Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lillie's Q

I like barbecue and there are a lot of bbq places in Chicago.  There are many that aren't so great, but there are enough that are really good to be able to enjoy some good barbecue regularly.  I hadn't been to any barbecue places in a while and there was a place that I live relatively close to that I hadn't been to so I decided that place.  On paper, Lillie's Q should be one of the best barbecue places in the city, if not the best.  The pitmaster, Charlie McKenna, has been to Memphis in May several times, placed in the top 5 five years in a row, and actually came in 1st in 2007.  Cooking in a competition and cooking in a restaurant though, are two different things and while he does well in competition, there is more to running a restaurant than making good food.  I came for lunch one afternoon and was seated quickly at the bar.  The place is very rustic as are many barbecue joints and really, it fits.  While I was perusing the menu, I took a look at the beer list, which was pretty creative, and asked for a recommendation from the bartender who was very friendly and helpful.  I started out with an IPA which was pretty good and not as bitter a typical IPA.  After I ordered my barbecue, he bought me a tray of the sauces that they made and served.  I tried all of them on their own and decided that I liked the Carolina Gold (Mustard based) and Carolina (tomato and vinegar) best.  Ivory (a creamy pepper sauce) was very different.  Most were very good, although I didn't care for the ENC (Eastern North Carolinan) which was a little too thin for my liking.     
For my food, I decided to start out with some Fried Pickles which were served with a Ranch Sauce.  The pickles were breaded with a light tempura-type breading and were very hot when they hit my table.  When they cooled enough that I was able to taste them, I found that the pickles were vertically sliced, crisp and flavorful.  While the ranch dressing did add to the flavor of the dish, the pickles were good without it.
For my main course (and side), I would normally go with Baby Back Ribs so I can more easily compare them to other barbecue joints.  I did get Baby Back Ribs but I saw that they had a sampler plate called a Taste of LQ which included three meats.  With the Baby Back Ribs, I also got Tri-Tip, and Pulled Pork.  For my side, I went with Mac and Cheese.  I did try everything without added sauce and with a variety of different sauces and they were good with and without them.  I did like the mac and cheese with the Hot and Smoky Sauce.  As far as the meats were concerned, the ribs were best with the Carolina, the Tri-Tip (which was actually a little rare for my liking) was best with the Carolina Gold, and the Pulled Pork was best with the Smoky Sauce.  
 For my Dessert, I went with a standard Southern Dessert, a Bread Pudding.  It was a Brioche Bread Pudding, Golden Raisins, Candied Pecans, and Chocolate Bourbon Sauce.  While it was surprisingly dense, it was sweet, flavorful, and I really liked the bourbon chocolate sauce.  It was a good finish for a meal that ended up satisfying me for the rest of the day.

The barbecue here is very good, but ultimately, it is not my favorite.  I will say though, that the service was very good and helpful, they have a better dessert list, and a liquor license, so this may actually now be my favorite barbecue place.


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