By Christina Lieffring
From the lopsided parking lot we could hear the harmonica wailin’ and smell wood-smoke and spice. The low red-brick and wood building was packed with booths and long rows of tables with red and white checkered tablecloths inhabited by Johnson County teens in skinny jeans, a ponytailed senior donning a “Willie Nelson for President” t-shirt and everyone in between. BB’s Lawnside Barbecue has the quintessential barbecue and blues joint vibe, but people from all over don’t just come here for the ambiance; there is substance behind the style.
The Nick Moss Band was blasting down-home blues when we came in and local (and personal) favorite Trampled Under Foot was lined up to play the following Tuesday. Owner Lindsay Shannon’s longtime presence in the KC blues scene means that any given night diners will be treated to quality local blues. However, since we valued conversation and our hearing, we opted to sit at the picnic tables on the patio and enjoy at a reasonable decibel level.
The ribs were (and I am not hyperbole-prone) perfect. They were not covered in sauce because they didn’t need to be – the meat was flavorful, moist, tender but not overcooked. Their sausage, linked at local meat legend McGonigles and smoked in-house, finds the right balance of sweet, smoke-y and savory. The pulled pork and beef were not especially flavorful and dry but that could be remedied by drowning it in BB’s in-house mild and spicy hot sauce. The extra kick in the spicy sauce brings out the sweet undertones without being so spicy you can’t slather it on.
The BBQ Sunday is a combo of hickory smoked beans, coleslaw and pulled pork served out of a mason jar. But instead of the nicely defined layers we expected, we got a mason jar of brown goop with some coleslaw and a pickle on top. Once it was dumped out on a plate it tasted fine, but presentation matters. Our waitress recommended the meatloaf made of burnt ends but it was a little dry on the outside though the center was more flavorful. BB’s also offers Louisiana-style fare, but the jambalaya was dry and nothing to write New Orleans about.
A nice surprise was the amount of care gone into the sides. Fries, coleslaw, green beans and smoked beans are standard barbecue sides, but BB’s has tweaked them just enough to make them stand out. The fries are battered and fried, the coleslaw had less mayonnaise and more flavor, and green beans and smoked beans had an extra kick to them.
Overall BB’s provides a wide enough selection that each visit could bring something new. (After tasting their smoked ribs, I’m curious to try out their smoked chicken.) Combine that with their ribs, sauce, sides, atmosphere and music, and you’ve got a classic summer night out.
Contact Christina Lieffring, staff reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.