Kansas City. Texas. Arkansas. Memphis. North Carolina. Each of these destinations is either known for their barbecue or next to a place known for its barbecue – and that sauce runs over. Having eaten barbecue in each and every one of them, I think it’s fair for me to say that I know my way around a plate of charred meat (as evidenced by the size of my jeans). So, I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about dinner at Chicago q. Its cool, hip name. Its tony location in the Gold Coast. Even when I entered the refreshingly bright and airy dining room, (evoking more a chic farmhouse than the barns called up by many a barbecue restaurant in the south) I was still pessimistic as I glanced around at all the hip, 20- to 30-somethings in large groups, happily wiping barbecue sauce from their faces.
Luckily for me, crow wasn’t on the menu at Chicago q, or I certainly would’ve been eating it. Instead, my dining partner and I feasted on Chef Lee Ann Whippen’s competition baby-back ribs, kobe-sliced brisket, fried green tomatoes, house bacon cheddar hush puppies, cole slaw, braised greens, honey butter cornbread, Kobe brisket baked beans, and bruléed macaroni and cheese.
A word about those baby-back ribs – they fall off the bone, a real sign of the good stuff. The online menu suggests making that request 24 hours in advance of dining at the restaurant. Oops. We forgot to do that. Luckily, the knowledgeable and extremely helpful staff had them ready for us. The ribs are treated to a dry rub before cooking. Then at the table, we had our choice of four house-made sauces: original mild, spicy, eastern North Carolina vinegar and South Carolina mustard. They go nicely on the Kobe brisket, too.
The Kobe brisket baked beans were flavored with the spirit of the night—bourbon—and with delicious hunks of brisket. As a southerner, I also don’t eat a plate of greens just anywhere. But this mix of kale, collard and mustard hit all the right the notes.
“When might be a good time to visit Chicago q?” you might ask. What luck – Whiskey Week is fast approaching, and q is celebrating with three exclusive dinners in the private Wine Room. The dinners, on Mar. 20-22 will feature whiskeys from Heaven Hill, George Dickel and Bulleit Bourbon. And if you can’t make it for one of those dinners, be sure to sip your way through a bourbon flight any night of the week.
1160 N. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – midnight
RESERVATIONS: required for Whiskey Dinner, $100 per person, all-inclusive. Call 312-642-1160