Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe

I went to Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe on Burbank, IL last week. Burbank would normally be a little far outside my range but as it was for a friend's birthday, I made the trip. So who is Chuck? Chuck is a native of Burbank who worked for several years under Rick Bayless at his fine dining Mexican restaurant, Topolobampo before studying the barbecue world and opening up his own barbecue, Mexican, and Southern restaurant. This is actually kind of funny because Rick Bayless came from Oklahoma and his family ran a barbecue joint before he started his own Mexican restaurant (in Chicago). On the surface, Mexican and Southern foods don't seem like they would go together but barbecue brings them together. There is both Southern barbecue and Mexican barbecue on the menu and the influence of Rick Bayless can be seen in his Mexican food. The restaurant also has a tremendous beer list with 120 different beers. While the number sounds large, it actually covers a huge number of categories so there are only a few representatives of each category. I actually was surprised not to see a few beers that I like that were not included in a given category. While I generally stayed with the Southern style barbecue, there were a few people that ordered the some of the Mexican dishes which I will get to. We started with the cornbread which was served in a cast iron pan with a whipped butter on top. It was a nice looking dish with a good texture and taste and actually avoided the sweetness that seems to be popular at other places.
As is my tradition at barbecue joints, I ordered the ribs so I could compare them to the ribs that other barbecue joints. I ordered a BBQ Combo which included a half a rack of ribs with another meat of my choice. I chose the brisket because it gives a little variety and I love brisket. The meal came with a choice of sauces, mild, hot, or honey chipotle, and 2 sides. I like my barbecue sauce to be spicy with a little sweetness so I went for the honey chipotle and I chose baked beans and mac and cheese for my sides. My half rack was bigger than I expected but I erred in the ordering of the honey chipotle sauce. It was too sweet with a little spiciness. The meat though was nicely smoked and had a nice chew to it. I ended up adding some of the hot barbecue sauce which I saw was what I actually should have ordered. The sides, while not spectacular, also were not bad. The brisket was sliced, was nicely smoked, and was also pretty tender with out being meat jello. I also tried some of the Cochinita Pibil which a couple of people at our table ordered. It is a Mexican barbecue consisting of a pork shoulder rubbed with achiote pepper and wrapped and smoked in banana leaves. It was excellent and I saw that that was actually what I should have ordered.

Chuck's is a good restaurant that does everything we tried well. My friend made a good choice in coming hear and I'm glad I came. While it won't be a regular stop for me, I know that it is a good choice if I happen to be in the area.

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