Chow Town

Burnt End’s barbecue is bliss in a bowl

If your Chow Town digs are so far from southern Johnson County that you seldom venture there, Burnt End BBQ, Burgers & Beer is worth breaking out of your routine.

Thanks to PB&J Restaurant’s business and culinary savvy and their gift for creating unusual dining options, another quality barbecue venue has settled into the southern Johnson County Chow Town terrain.

Burn End blends in with the surrounding suburban sprawl serviced by big box-anchored shopping centers, health care satellites and the usual fast food and high-end chain dining options. Burnt End barbecue, however, will please palates of barbecue aficionados all over Chow Town.

It is Kansas City barbecue with some creative touches that reflect executive chef and pitmaster Stephen “Smokey” Schwartz’s southern California roots.

Only three years old, Burnt End’s barbecue credentials are substantial. Schwartz has been involved in Kansas City barbecue since 1982, when he and some friends opened the former Joe’s Barbecue affiliated with Joe’s Barn in Olathe.

Later he worked the pits as executive chef and pitmaster at Fiorella’s Jack Stack for more than 10 years before joining the PB&J team in 2005. Schwartz has competed against other chefs in venues such as the Share our Strength fundraiser in Chicago, where his Burnt End Bowl won against stellar chefs’ entries from other cities. He also competes at the Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle with the PB&J Smokin’ Old Men team.

Burnt End offers a complete menu of the meats you expect in a barbecue restaurant, but the bowls are what attracted my attention. The signature Burnt End Bowl has burnt ends, pit beans, cornbread and onion straws.

Other options include the pulled pork Pig Out Bowl, the 119th Street Bowl with brisket, ham, bacon, cheddar jack cheese, fried potatoes and onion straws, or a bowl of your choice with two meats, two sides and cornbread. I chose the latter, with a combo of burnt ends, pulled pork, pit beans and cheesy corn, with add-on servings of coleslaw and beer batter dill pickle chips.

It was so good that I called it barbecue bliss in a bowl. The burnt ends were tender and flavorful with a kiss of smoke; likewise the pulled pork with a slightly sweet tomato base sauce. Schwartz clearly believes in using enough seasoning to enhance, not overpower, the natural meat flavors. He also strives to keep it local as much as possible with his meat and produce suppliers.

Balanced seasonings, real barbecue with a creative twist, and a talented pitmaster make Burnt End a winner in the Chow Town barbecue scene. I’ll be back for ribs, burgers and the jumbo beef chili cheese dog.

Burnt End BBQ, Burgers & Beer is located at 11831 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. Its telephone number is 913-451-8888. Click here for its website.

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. He is also the author of books on barbecue. His most recent release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”