“Ronnie — Ham & a fry. Best Wishes, Eric Stonestreet.”
A signed, framed photo of beloved hometown talent Eric Stonestreet, best known these days as Cameron Tucker in the hit TV sitcom, “Modern Family,” hangs on the wall at the order counter at Wyandot Bar-B-Q No. 1. Look up to your right; can’t miss it.
Wyandot No. 1 on State Avenue is not slick or fancy. Same can be said of Wyandot Bar-B-Q No. 2 in Overland Park, although the buildings are different inside and out. The traditional Kansas City-style barbecue they serve is what’s important.
In both places you order, pay and pick up at the counter. Owner/pitmaster Ron Williams learned the barbecue method and the ropes of running a barbecue business from the legendary Anthony Rieke at Rosedale. Williams learned it well.
The business has been serving a steady line of loyal and new customers for almost 40 years. Wyandot’s second generation, Ron Williams II, already is an integral part of the business.
Wyandot’s barbecue ribs and beef are my favorites. Untrimmed, unskinned hickory-smoked ribs, Wyandot’s specialty, are fall-off-the-bone tender and kissed with smoke. The marriage of rib meat with rendered fat and a touch of sauce make me wonder why Williams would bother to smoke anything else.
Kansas City barbecue customers, however, expect more than ribs on the menu. Beef, ham, turkey, sausage and burnt ends better be on the menu. Wyandot has it all. The beef is lean and tender with a just right touch of hickory smoke. No big deal that it doesn’t have smoke rings.
Wyandot sauce is of the Rosedale genre but distinctly its own: tomato base, smooth, slightly spicy with a cayenne bite, sour with a touch of sweet, fused with secret spices.
The barbecue at Wyandot No. 2 reaches the same level of excellence as at No. 1. Williams has trained more than one person to keep an eye on the pit and maintain consistent quality. The Wyandot team has been doing it for almost four decades in a city that is picky about barbecue.
Although I tend to stick with ribs, beef, beans and fries at Wyandot, one of these days I’ll try Stonestreet’s “ham and a fry.” I am not a big fan of ham in most barbecue joints, mainly because it is usually cured ham warmed in a barbecue pit.
I don’t know of any place in Kansas City that serves ham that starts out fresh, uncured, and then smoked slow and low like the late Grace Proffitt did it at her Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, Tenn. The flavor is entirely different than pit-heated cured ham. I think it could become Stonestreet’s favorite.
“Ronnie—Fresh ham & a fry. Best wishes.”
Wyandot Bar-B-Q No. 1 is at 8441 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan., 913-788-7554.
Wyandot No. 2 is located at 7215 W. 75th Street, Overland Park, 913-341-0609, wyandotbbq.com.
Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with Chef Paul Kirk.