Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lillie's Q

Location: 1856 W North Avenue
Cost: About $20 per person

Generally, I love running into friends unexpectedly at restaurants (although when they shout out, "how many pearls" it draws some funny looks). One exception is when you go to a restaurant that involves eating with your hands. The reason I bring this up is because I went to Lillie's Q a few weekends ago with my buddies Arif and KVG. We ran into my old neighbors, the Donenbergs, and when we went over to say hi, there was a mad scramble to find a napkin or wet nap so that we could shake hands. After a few awkward moments we decided that giving the knucks was the appropriate thing to do. I'm not a general proponent of knucks (aka fist pounds or whatever you'd like to call them), but it seemed called for here.

Side note: One of my fraternity brothers once lost a job offer by giving the knucks to his interviewer. They should be used cautiously. BBQ seems like one of those times.

Sorry for the tangent there. Let's get back to Lillie's Q.

Logistics
Lillie's Q is right in the heart of hipster country (although the neighborhood seems to be transforming to the next phase of gentrification). We got there at 7:30 on a Friday night and were told the wait would be 45 minutes. They have a nice bar with plenty of interesting things on tap which was perfect for us while we waited. After 45 minutes had passed, I realized that parties of 4 were getting sat down that came in after us. They had two tables that only fit three people, and it was clear that they were trying to optimize their seating and get us into one of those. The problem was that both of those tables were filled with squatters. At the 1 hour mark I asked the hostess what was going on, and she accused me of being inpatient and said that it had only been a half hour (then she sat two more parties of 4 that came in after us). At 1.5 hours I made a real stink about it and told her that I was on to her game and that there was no way those chatty cathys were getting up soon. She gave me a whole bunch of attitude and put us at a table for two with another chair on the side. She is the worst, and to be fair, the rest of the post may be more judgmental than necessary (but as the gateway to the restaurant, it's her fault).

Our server on the other hand was fantastic. She was friendly and not black of heart at all. Our food came out in a reasonable amount of time. The cost was good and matched the portions well, especially compared to the last BBQ place I hit up (Chicago Q). A slab of ribs runs $19, appetizers are around $5, other BBQ entrees like the brisket were near $10, and sides float around $4.

The Food
I'd heard a bunch about the Fried Pickles, so that's what we got started with. They were the perfect thickness to the point where you could bite through them but not feel overwhelmed by the breading. The ranch like dipping sauce brought it all together nicely. We also got an order of Hush Puppies that KVG and Arif were not very fond of. They were a bit too dry, but the sweet potato dressing on the side saved the dish for me.

The Hush Puppies

 The Fried Pickles

For our entrees we got the Tri Tip, the Pulled Pork, the Hot Link, and the Baby Back Ribs. The pork had a nice mix of soft and crispy pieces, and it wasn't too greasy. The hot link had a nice snap to its casing, but there wasn't any unique flavor that jumped out at me. The ribs were a bit tough to get off the bone, but the meat was tender and the sauce was sweet. The tri tip came out luke warm, but the marbling was extensive. There was a prominent smoke ring as well. To go along with these meats we got orders of Fries, Baked Beans, and Coleslaw. The fries were crispy and heavily salted. The beans were sweet and not too grainy. The ones at Smoque with the chunks of brisket are still my favorite. The coleslaw was creamy and clean, but I think the cilantro version at Smoke Daddy takes the cake in this category.

The Tri Tip

The Pulled Pork

The Baby Back Ribs

The Hot Link

The French Fries

The Coleslaw

 The Baked Beans

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the sauce lineup. They have 5 options including the Smoky, Hot Smoky, Ivory, Carolina Gold, and Carolina. The hot smoky was my favorite and reminded me of the spicier option from Twin Anchors. The Carolina Gold was also fantastic for the mustard lovers out there.

 The Sauces

Overall
The highlights of our night were the fried pickles, the tri tip, and the pulled pork. We weren't crazy about any of the sides, the hot link, or the ribs. I don't think Lillie's Q is one of the strongest players in the Chicago BBQ scene, but it's got some quality items. I'm giving them 2.5 out of 5 Pearls.


Lillie's Q on Urbanspoon

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