Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Honey 1 BBQ

Note: This is a guest post from my good friend Danny. He's been on a ton of JEC outings with me, and I finally got him to write a little something. I think you all will enjoy his humor and writing style.

Location: 2241 N Western
Cost: About $10 per person

Ever since Jeff started his blog, he's been asking me to write a post and I've mostly said no because I didn't want to be the jerk that takes photos of everyone's meals, a challenge that Jeff tackles gracefully (side note: I've long joked with Jeff that I wanted to start a blog called "Danny eats Jeff eats Chicago" where I just re-review everywhere Jeff has been....except funnier and with mildly better prose).  With Jeff and Jeremy hungry after a roommate outing at Men's Wearhouse, I threw out the idea of a restaurant Jeff hadn't been to in Logan Square and we ended up at Honey 1 BBQ.

Honey 1 is located just south of Fullerton on Western. Street parking is pretty easy for the area. The restaurant is BYOB and it is across the street from Danny's liquors, which seems to always be stocked with Zombie Dust.

As for the service, Honey 1 is a no-frills, order at the counter operation. Your food is brought out to you on a red tray atop a piece of wax paper. Also, it's worth noting that Jeff commented on how remarkably clean the bathroom was. He makes a good point; the bathroom was very clean.

The Food
Honey 1 is somewhat of a staple in my BBQ diet and I immediately steered both Jeff and Jeremy to the only item I've ever had there: the rib tip and sausage link combo* (I should note on this particular visit I was ready to order ribs in the spirit of trying different things for the blog but they were all out). We threw in an order of four wings for good measure.**

The Rib Tip and Sausage Link Combo

The Hot Wings

The Coleslaw

*Jeff asked the man working about the sizes available for the combo and he placed the three different size baskets in front of Jeff. When Jeff asked him how big the mini basket was, the employee remarked, "Don't worry about what's not on the counter." This story probably doesn't translate well but for Jeremy, myself and the stranger in line adjacent to us, it was unspeakably funny.

**I talked up the BYOB angle so I'd be remiss not to explain why we didn't drink: Jeff had a cold. Jeremy and I both ordered sodas and Jeff declined. 30 seconds after we ordered, Jeff went up to get a pop at which point the man working, the same man who ragged on Jeff no less than 30 seconds ago, remarked "I thought you might be back." It can't be overstated that a stranger made fun of Jeff twice in a 2-3 minute span but I digress.

The tips and links combo comes on a bed of previously frozen fries, covered in Honey 1's signature sauce and with two pieces of white bread on top. Combined, these items make for a damn near perfect culinary experience but as this is a food blog, I'll address the parts individually.

Tips: always come with a nice smoke ring and a delicious bark. I've had them overcooked once but usually, they're as good as it gets. 

Sausage: clearly made in house and with visible pepper flakes, the links pack a nice punch to balance the relatively sweet sauce.
Fries: the fries would be entirely forgettable except after sitting in the bottom of the combo basket long enough, they become extraordinary vehicles for soaking up residual BBQ sauce.

White bread: see fries explanation.

Sauce: while some BBQ purists may scoff, the combo at Honey-1 comes laden in their BBQ sauce. A sweeter sauce with a little bit of heat on the back end, it tastes good on pretty much everything.

The only other items we sampled were the coleslaw and the wings. The wings came in hot sauce and while not quite reaching the levels of the BBQ, the meat was tender and the breading soaked up the hot sauce nicely.

I get the coleslaw every time because I like how it complements the BBQ. It is relatively generic but the meat is so good it doesn't really matter.

Now you're probably wondering how I can talk so highly of a meal that has a few parts that do not stand up on their own. But this is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Let's use the 1996 Chicago Bulls as an example. Two obvious stars in Michael and Scottie (the tips and links), two players, Dennis and Harp, who knew their roles and stayed in their lane (the fries and coleslaw) and Luc Longley, a seven foot white stiff (white bread). This probably wasn't the best starting lineup ever put on paper but everybody knew their roles and everybody worked off of their teammates. The combo functions similarly.

(I guess if we were to continue this analogy the sauce would be Steve Kerr and the pitmaster is Phil Jackson).

If Smoque is The Beatles of the north side BBQ scene, then Honey 1 is Exile-era Rolling Stones. There is nowhere else like it on the north side, most people haven't even heard of it and yet they continue to churn out some of the best BBQ in the area. If you go there and get the ribs, let me know how they are. If you go there and get the combo, you won't regret it. I'm giving them 4.5 pearls.
Also, this has nothing to do with anything, but writing this has made me realize how difficult writing about food is. I mostly like the rib tip and links combo because it tastes "delicious" but that doesn't really paint much of a picture for you, Jeff's parents and other relatives he makes read this. The point I'm trying to make is the fact Jeff knows his way around a scalpel and a sifter is admirable.
Honey 1 BBQ on Urbanspoon