Brother Dave's Barbeque

Delightful Smoked Meats for the Lover of Bold Flavors

On these pages you will find wonderful tidbits of information related to the art and craft of smoking anything edible.

Ancient Techniques

It is said that the very first barbeque was not created but rather was "found" by ancient peoples traversing a burnt forest.  They found small mammals and, being the resourceful people they were, decided these smokey little fellas smelled pretty good and tried a bite.  They liked what they tasted!  These people were also industrious and worked out a way to prepare the critters on a small, occasional fire.  From that point on, advances in cooking with wood have evolved over time.

Restaurant Review - Lone Steer BBQ 

Score on based on the KCBS judging scale of 2 to 9:       7
My Review of Lone Steer BBQ - 2176 East 23rd Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66046 (the old Don's Steak House building)
by James David Childers, Kansas City Barbeque Society Certified Barbeque Judge #24295
(I'm at the bottom of page 4 of the Cs along with my brother John.)

I headed out to Lone Steer BBQ with my daughter Sara and her husband Mike Gillum.  We went on Friday night at about 7:20PM

There were about 15 or 20 cars in the ample parking lot and the place was easy to get to from the center turn lane of K-10/23rd Street coming from the west.

When you walk into Lone Steer BBQ you will see a sign that says something like 'This Way To Great Q' and an arrow pointing you to another arrow which points to another arrow.  By the time you get to the third arrow, you get the idea that this is a buffet style BBQ and not a regular restaurant.  The list of beers on tap are written on a chalk board near the last arrow.

The first disconcerting thing is the stack of blue plastic two-liter bottle trays.  These serve as your carrying tray as you move through the line.  A little unorthodox, but OK.

The second disconcerting thing to me was the cooler full of sides. This is where I found my Cole Slaw (more later) serving sitting in a foam bowl with a plastic lid.  I spent too much time scanning the potato salad and other containers looking for the baked beans - but they were not there - and I was to find that they were not there on purpose.

We moved on to the ordering area where the person at the counter must have recognized my deer-in-the-headlights look because she asked if this was my first time here.

The ordering process is pretty simple, really.  They sell their BBQ by the pound.  They do have a couple three sandwiches.  They come on a hogie bun with about a 1/2 pound of chopped beef, pulled pork or the "Po' Boy" which has those two meats in smaller quantities plus a smoked sausage.

After some contemplation, I asked if I could get the Po' Boy without the bun.  My order taker (who had a great attitude and was very genuinely friendly) said 'Sure!' and placed my order with the guys over at the pit.

Ah, the pit.  Now here's something to wonder about.  The pit appears to consist of a brick box split into two chambers of about three feet square with heavy iron covers that open from the top using counter weights.  The servers appeared to be almost constantly retrieving the meats from the pit to slice off the next order on the carving block.  I'll bet they have more than one of each kind of meat in there so that one brisket or one pork shoulder/butt doesn't get cold because they were preparing order after order.  One thing that I did notice was that there was no smoke coming from this pit.  It must be a 'holding' or 'serving' pit and the real BBQ low-and-slow-smoke cooking take place on the pit out back. (I've read about the pit out back, but I did not have a look at it that night.)

They very nicely asked if I wanted all the meat together in my basket or if I wanted them separate.  Since BBQ meats should be judged separately, I said separate.  They placed the meats on their squares of food service waxed paper and placed them in my tray.  I had also ordered some "Home Cut Fries" and they placed those in the tray.

The third disconcerting thing was the stock tank full of iced down bottles of beer.  I thought I had seen a list of beers on tap, but all I saw was the stock tank, full of many of the same beers that were on the list of tap beers . . . and no taps behind the counter.  So, although they obviously had a list of beers on tap back towards the front, I asked the order taker if they really had Shiner Bock on tap.  She said 'Sure!  Someone will bring that out to your table.'  The beer mystery was solved.  Kind of.

I took my tray of BBQ meats and fries by the condiment bar and decided against any onions or jalepenos.  Even though I love them, I was here to judge their Barbeque.  Onions and japs would only hinder my palate and leave an unfairly favorable impression.

Judging BBQ by the standards of the KCBS CBJ program is different and just a little less subjective than the squabbles that have broken out here.  Three attributes are analyzed and scored in the judging of competition BBQ.  Those three are taste, tenderness/texture and appearance. More information about  the Certified Judges program can be found at the KCBS web site.
One benefit to judging Barbeque "in the wild" is that I can enjoy a glass of beer with the food.  KCBS judging rules are such that no alcohol can be consumed before judging at a sanctioned contest.

I waited to begin while Sara and Mike brought their food back to the table. Once they were seated, I began to unwrap each of the three papers containing the meats.  I was happy to see that Mike had bought a pint of BBQ Beans. I knew he would share them and I asked Mike where he had found them. They kept them hot behind the counter.  Mike set the styrofoam bowl at the middle of the table so we could all three sample them.  Our beers magically arrived, delivered by a smiling and pleasant lady who came up to our table from a direction other than towards the ordering counter.

The first meat I tried was the "Chopped Beef" which was clearly brisket pieces that couldn't hold together for more formal slices.  This cut of beef is one of the most difficult to cook, but I'm here to tell you, this brisket was done perfectly.  It was tender as could be, but not to the point that it was mushy.  It was juicy and very flavorful.  The rub they put on the brisket had cooked into a very tasty bark and the servers had not been shy about including plenty of the bark in this serving.  There was an obvious smoke ring but, according to KCBS judging rules, we're not supposed to allow the smoke ring to affect our scoring.  However, I was not judging at a competition and this smoke ring was very nice, assuming they didn't induce it artificially (and why would they?).  This indicated to me that the cook who had prepared this brisket truly did use low-and-slow smoke cooking.  The smoky flavor that filled my mouth was very beefy without being too salty.  The only thing I didn't care for was the rather prominent blob of fat in the middle of the serving.  But overall, it was an excellent meat.

Next, I ate a few fries to 'cleanse my palate' since I didn't have any saltine crackers.  The fries were cut to pedestrian dimensions with the skin left on.  They were fried to a nice golden brown and served in a paperboard boat.  I liked them.

The serving of Cole Slaw was delicious. The slaw dressing was the non-mayonaise style made primarily of vinegar, sugar and celery seed - not too sweet.  I liked the slaw too, even though it was served in a non-environmentally friendly styrofoam cup.

Next I tried the pulled pork meat.  It was very flavorful and seemed to have some BBQ sauce mixed in with the meat.  Once again, what tasted like the same rub as the brisket was used to create a tasty bark on the meat.  The only drawback here was that about half of the serving was obviously overcooked and was mushy in texture.  The other half was perfectly done. The servers had pretty clearly mixed in the over-done with the perfectly done. I still thought it was very tasty and I ate it all.

The smoked sausage was last to go after a few more fries.  This was about the biggest disappointment of the three meats.  It had obviously been cooked, but not nearly enough for my taste.  It wasn't raw so I didn't feel like I was in danger.  The sausage stuffing had small bits of jalepenos that had been mixed into the sausage and the other spices mixed in made it taste something like a cross between a Chorizo and Andouille.  Very tasty and, yes, I ate it all.

The BBQ sauces were on the table along with hot sauce.  I tried a small amount of each along with a bit of each of the meats.  Juan's Sweet sauce is very much a Kansas City sweet style - but with a definite black pepper overtone.  If you don't like black pepper, don't use this sauce as this is the first flavor that jumps out front and center. As for my taste, I enjoyed the peppery counter-balance to the sweetness.

Juan's Tangy sauce was what I will call a Kentucky red sauce.  Very thin in consistency - but not too watery - vinegar was the major overtone, although it was still sweet.  It reminded me of Gates Original but a with a little more volume in the vinegar channel.

Mike and Sara had enjoyed their food.  Mike said the ribs were very good but he would have ordered more if he would have known that only three ribs make up about a pound.  I am looking forward to trying the ribs myself the next time we go or I'll get a full slab to go.

 As we were leaving I noticed that they had retained the full bar located near the entrance, just as it had been the last time I was at Don's.   This was where the beers were delivered from.

About an hour after we had arrived we were on our way home.  The final disconcerting feeling I got was after we had left Lone Steer BBQ .  As I was driving west on 23rd Street towards the setting sun, I realized that a lady had brought our beers and at least a couple of folks stopped by to make sure everything was OK and the beer lady had stopped back by to see if we needed another round.  We had felt very well taken care of . . . but I didn't think to leave a tip.  Now I felt kind of bad.  My first wife had worked as a waitress and I know how important those tips are to the servers.  They had done everything right for a buffet style of service but for some reason, I never thought to (and I was never reminded to) leave a tip.  Strange.

Conclusion:  I got packed full of very tasty BBQ food and enjoyed a decent pint of beer for around $15 including tax.
YES - I will go here again.

/David C.