Chicago q has brought the down-home feel to the city's Gold Coast area, thanks to BBQ fare that rivals spots on the South Side.
The spot is deceptively large and more elegant than what one might expect at a BBQ establishment: What looks like a smaller facade opens to a two-story establishment that seats 240 people. Among the features are two working fireplaces, a large mural, striking pine floors, a private dining room and a lounge area on the second floor with a big-screen TV and couches where a group can have a game-watching party.
As for the food, you really can't go wrong. A sampler plate included Kobe brisket that melts in your mouth, smoked chicken, pulled pork, bruleed macaroni-and-cheese and wonderful dry-rubbed spareribs. ( The smoker actually cooks up to half a ton of meat at a time, according to General Manager Lee Lampert. ) Sides include baked beans with Kobe brisket; honey-butter cornbread and braised greens. The restaurant sells three different types of sauces ( which also accompany "BBq" dishes ) : original mild, spicy and Eastern North Carolina Vinegar.
Chef Lee Ann Whippena reality-TV veteran who is president and owner of Wood Chick's BBQ Restaurants & Catering Company ( in Chesapeake, Va., from where this writer hails ) talked with Windy City Times about coming to Chicago: "I came here from Chesapeake, where I barbecue, and I have been competing [ in various BBQ contests ] for 14 years. The owner actually came across my name through the BBQ community, which is pretty tight. He knows that I'm well-educated when it comes to restaurants, and he wants me to continue to compete."
By the way, Whippen has a tip for those who grill and those who aspire to do so: "Grilling is when you put your meat over direct heat. One of the biggest mistakes I think people make is that they put their sauce on too early. They should put it on during the last half-hour so it doesn't burn on your meat."
Customers can also look forward to delivery service, which should start within the next few months.
Chicago q is at 1160 N. Dearborn; call 312-642-1160 or visit www.chicagoqrestaurant.com .