Morgantown Edition: Woodburn Shanks Pit Style BBQ

By Candace Nelson - 9:00 AM

Woodburn Shanks
Woodburn ShanksI've been eagerly awaiting the opening of Woodburn Shanks when someone told me about their kickstarter. Derrick Shanks and Alex Schoetz began the venture, but Schoetz left at some point. Shanks continued working, and I sent him an email asking when it might be finished back in January.

Woodburn ShanksHe told me: "I still need to get approved by the local health dept, which is going to require some elbow grease between now and then. I am starting on such a tiny budget, so I am literally doing everything myself, from fabricating the smokers, the logo and graphic design, and the restoration of the 33 year old truck (at this point it's just me, Alex has left the venture). If I had to estimate, I think I will be open in 6-7 weeks."

Fast-forward a few months later - after I moved across the state and back again - he posted on my Facebook to check out their location, which has switched from foodtruck to actual shop in the old Morgantown Mall. They have their truck and smoker in the back parking lot, but you can walk up to the actual storefront in the mall to get a bite to eat.

Woodburn ShanksThey're only open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so it's not bad for me considering I work close to the old mall. I imagine the folks who work at the mall and around there frequent it, but beyond Woodburn Shanks, there's not much in that old mall anymore.

Shanks was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. So, they specialize in Kansas City Style BBQ. From their page:

"He learned from an early age BBQ was his favorite food. So he built a smoker and forged his technique.  It’s a slow and long process to make excellent BBQ and Derrick is truly a master."

"Derrick Shanks, a Kansas City Style pit-master will provide meats rubbed with a Kansas City style rub and smoked to perfection. In our world that means the just the right amount of meat falling off the bone, the smoked flavor isn't hidden by sauce, but you can add sauce as you like. The mild sauce we provide has been named twice by the American Royal, the 'Best Sauce on the Planet.' We also have a hot version, and a Western Carolina sauce for those that don't dig sweets."

Woodburn ShanksYou order at the counter - and they take cards - and the woman prepares the food right there for you. It's basically already made and they just assemble it for you. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and for the two sides: cheesey corn and slaw. I grabbed one of each kind of sauce - a mild and a hot version - before taking a seat at a table in front.

Kansas City Style has lots of savory spices, sweet rubs and sauces that are then smoked in a pit for hours. Woodburn Shanks falls in that category. The pulled pork was smokey and tender and lovely. I like that some pieces were darker and had more texture. I like having the sauce on the side so I can add to it as I choose. While both of the sauces were good - I liked the more sweet mild sauce. It's a solid sandwich. One of the best I've found in  town. 

Unfortunately, neither of the two sides did it for me. The slaw was slathered in mayo and had no real flavor - just sog. And the cheesy corn, while it sounds great by description, it did nothing for me. I couldn't tell it was cheesy - it just tasted kind of greasy. High hopes for sides to complement the great sandwich, but fell flat.

Try the pulled pork sandwich, but maybe opt for the baked beans next time.

Grade: B
Woodburn Shanks Pit Style BBQ on Urbanspoon

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