Marc T. Engberg
[Once a month we have a company member report to us about life on the road. This month, it's Marc T. Engberg. sharing what went on during our recent tour in Kansas City, MO]
Ah, Kansas City, MO - the historic birthplace of bebop jazz, tomato-based barbecue sauce, and Dianne Wiest! What’s not to like? The cast of BNHM was thrilled to be in KC for a seven show run. When we weren’t performing, we were eating. And boy did we eat well.
What is a burnt end? Nobody seems to know. It is a question that has vexed thinkers from Aristotle to Plutarch, from Rousseau to Roseanne. But does anyone really care? When it comes to BBQ, there are perhaps some questions best left unanswered. Burnt ends – whatever they are – are a Kansas City delicacy where enticing notes of flint, cedar, and the undercarriage of a Ford F-150 converge to delight the senses. The ones the cast enjoyed at Q39, an upscale BBQ brasserie situated in KC’s tony Roanoke neighborhood – where all the meth houses are handsomely appointed pied-a-terres - were a tour de force.
But Q39 seems very much a third wave BBQ spot. Gates BBQ, on the other hand, was an entirely different experience. The cast dined at Gates after our third show. It was time to find old KC. Gates is the kind of place that would have been a very fancy place to eat forty or fifty years ago. The service, which strikes the perfect balance between mildly rude and abjectly terrifying, reminded me a bit of the post office. Here’s a place where you order at the counter, but when you enter the dining pavilion, it’s the bebop stylings of Kansas City’s own Charlie Parker on the speakers. The black leather booths and the unabating smoky haze pervading the dining room harken back to a time when it was not uncommon to wear corduroy above the belt. The views of the industrial parkway abutting the restaurant are unrivaled. Sure, it’s nice to dine fine at a white glove establishment, but every now again you just want to get yelled at a little and eat a giant plate of pulled pork across from a Buick dealership. That’s Gates, folks. And it’s perfect.
Kansas City, thank you for feeding us with laughter, applause, great song suggestions, and the best dang barbecue a per diem can buy!