As corn is king in Iowa, barbecue reigns supreme in Kansas City.
As a KC native, I consider it my duty to serve as Newton’s resident expert in all things sauce and smoke related. When I heard there was a new barbecue restaurant opening in town, I raised an eyebrow and thought to myself, “This should be interesting.”
It’s been about two months since Moo’s set up shop on the square. Since then, I’ve seen a ton of Facebook posts talking about how great it is or how much they loved it. However, as the residential barbecue expert, there is only one opinion that I trust most when it comes to examining KC’s pride and joy — my own.
I’ve laid in wait, like a predator stalking its pray. I wanted to make sure that my timing was just right before I struck and that time was last Wednesday. While scrolling Facebook before work, I saw a post from Moo’s that said three rib bones, brisket and one side for 8 bucks.
I knew where I was headed for lunch.
I told my editorial office mates about the deal, and Kate Malott and Ben Schuff decided it was too good to pass up, as well.
We arrived at Moo’s and I was more than impressed with the décor and atmosphere. I had previously spent months hanging out in the location for office hours — it used to house Worth the Weight frozen yogurt — and I was blown away by the transformation and the blues music that provided the background noise.
With the mixture of rustic sheet metal walls and artwork celebrating great blues musicians and shows, I could tell they were trying to emulate those hole-in-the-wall types of barbecue joints I grew up exploring, and I liked it.
I placed my order and chose bacon mac-n-cheese for a side. As I patiently waited, my stomach decided the tasty smoky aroma was enough of a reason to yell at me for not putting food in it sooner.
A short time later “Sherlock Holmes” was called — every ticket is named after something pop culture related —and I returned to predator mode and prepared myself to attack this freshly smoked pray.
• Ribs — These ribs were incredibly tender and juicy. They weren’t quite KC level but I’d rank them as the third best ribs I’ve had in Iowa. Number one goes to Newton’s own Smokin’ Mississippi Queen and number two goes to Hickory Park in Ames.
• Brisket — I think the only way to properly describe how tender this brisket was is to call it meat flavored butter. Seriously, although the cuts were thick, the meat was literally almost coming apart on my fork.
• Chicken — Kate traded me a brisket piece for some of her chicken and I may have fought back tears of joy caused by Moo’s chicken breast. I was amazed at how well it was prepared, and it was like biting into a pocket of flavors.
• Bacon mac-n-cheese — They could’ve just given me bacon and I would’ve been happy but the addition of my one of all time favorite side dishes with the bacon was just awesome.
No matter how well you barbecue, in Kansas City, if you have terrible sauce you won’t make it. If barbecue is our king, barbecue sauce is the queen.
After being pleasantly surprised with how well the meats were, I thought, “There’s no way this sauce will be up to par.” Well once again, I may have underestimated a bit. While the sweet flavored sauce is OK, the spicy is nicely flavored but real spice lovers wouldn’t consider it hot.
The sauce to beat is the Bridgehouse Coffee barbecue sauce. I almost feel cheated for not having it sooner. Coffee and barbecue sauce are some of the things I cherish most and Moo’s found a way to combine them in a delicious manner.
I took notes during our visit, and my note about the “coffeesauce” reads: “I think I’ve fallen in love.”
In the very first article I ever wrote for the Daily News, I vowed to critique any and all barbecue I sampled in Iowa and I’ve kept up my end of the bargain. I’m willing to give credit where credit is due, and I have to admit Moo’s is pretty good.
Don’t get me wrong, when I go to KC I’m still going to visit my usual haunts, but it’s nice to have another delicious option here in Newton.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.