When you talk barbecue, you have to talk about all the great places that are in and around the Kansas City area. There are so many excellent places to choose from, if a barbecue place falters even a tiny bit, they're usually out of business sooner than later. One place that has been around for nine years in Overland Park is Brobeck's BBQ, but they have a number of years prior experience on the barbecue contest and catering circuit before they opened their restaurant.
Doug Brobeck grew up in eastern Tennessee and understood the importance of good pork barbecue in the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. He perfected his technique of pork barbecue as a young man and eventually ended up in the Kansas City area. Brobeck entered a handful of barbecue contests and won many awards in the early 1990's. Buoyed by the accolades he received from the barbecue competitions, Brobeck opened Stilwell Smokehouse on the far south side of Kansas City in 1994. Soon, Stilwell Smokehouse was known as one of the top places in the Kansas City area to get pork barbecue.
But they did more than pork at Stilwell Smokehouse - they were also famous for their smoked sausage, chicken and they held their own in the barbecued beef category versus some of the more prominent barbecue places in the Kansas City area. But by 2004, Doug Brobeck decided that he'd had enough and sold the restaurant to two young men. Unfortunately, the two guys had different ideas as to do barbecue and it didn't jive with the loyal customer base that Doug Brobeck built up over a 10-year-period. The Stilwell Smokehouse closed not long after Doug Brobeck sold the restaurant.
But with barbecue in his blood, Doug Brobeck knew that he had to have another barbecue place. In 2007, Brobeck - along with his sons Dave and Dean - opened Brobeck's BBQ in a small strip mall just east of Roe Ave. on Indian Creek Parkway in Overland Park. (see map)
I got into Brobeck's BBQ around 7:30 one evening when I was in Kansas City. I was staying less than five minutes away from Brobeck's and I was able to find parking in front of the restaurant. The interior of the L-shaped restaurant features a bar area with a number of tables, as well as a long narrow space toward the front of the restaurant that featured a number of booths.
I was seated in one of those booths by the young hostess who dropped off a menu for me. I ordered a Boulevard Single Wide IPA, but was then told by my server that they were out of the IPA, but they had the Boulevard Frequent Flier Session IPA. I do like the Single Wide IPA, but the Frequent Flier was fine enough.
One of the signature appetizers at Brobeck's BBQ is their house-made ham salad dip. My server brought out a small sample of the ham salad after she asked me if I had ever been to Brobeck's before. She said that they sold over 200 pounds of the ham salad dip weekly. She said, "It's our most popular appetizer and people buy it by the pound to take home." A guy and his wife seated near me ordered a pound container of the ham salad to take home with them after they finished their dinner. The ham salad was tasty, it had a sweet taste to it and it would have been a good opener for any meal.
They also had the ham salad available as a meat choice for sandwiches and platters as well. Their most famous sandwich is the pulled pork "Tennessee Porker" sandwich served on a large hoagie bun. But I just wanted to get some barbecue and I went with the sampler platter with smoked sausage, three pork ribs and sliced beef brisket. I got a side of their baked beans and some steak fries as my sides.
Brobeck's has a proprietorial spice rub that they use on their meats. They are served dry with a choice of either their sweet molasses barbecue sauce or a mustard-based sauce. Brobeck's also has a barbecue sauce bar featuring a number of locally based barbecue sauces such as KC Masterpiece, Gates BBQ, Arthur Bryant's and some other places. I stuck with the Brobeck's sweet KC-style sauce.
I normally don't get smoked sausage, but I had some outrageously great smoked sausage in Chicago the week before I was in Kansas City. When I found out that the barbecue sample platter came with sausage, I thought that would be fine. And it was. The sausage at Brobeck's had a great smokey and spicy taste. I liked the sausage tremendously.
The ribs were also fine - the rub on the outer bark of the ribs had a slightly spicy and peppery taste. The meat pulled away from the bone rather easily and it was tender and flavorful. The ribs were above average in my book.
The brisket, however, left a lot to be desired. The beef was thinly cut, but it was dry and tasted like buffet-style roast beef. A lot of sauce was needed to help get the brisket down. As good as the sausage was, the brisket was very disappointing.
Maybe they need to concentrate on just pork products at Brobeck's BBQ. The sausage - I thought - was excellent and the pork ribs were very good, as well. The brisket, aaaah, not so good. It was the only disappointing aspect about Brobeck's BBQ during my visit there. The service was adequate and the ham salad sample was a nice touch. And it was also very tasty and it's easy to see why they go through so much of it during the course of a week. I think I'd recommend just sticking with the pork barbecue on visits to Brobeck's BBQ. That seems to be in their wheelhouse - more so than the beef brisket.