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Posts Tagged ‘ranch’

Saturday night I got a free pass from diaper duty to go out for a few hours. Ever since doing the Playboy Pilot and meeting my new friend Melody there I’ve had a hankering to give DMK Burger Bar a whirl. You see, she works there and talked that place up to no end. I figured that Saturday would be a great time to go since that’s one of her work nights. I had a buddy all set to join me up until the last minute when he bailed. That wouldn’t deter me though. When I have a burger in my sights nothing is going to stop me! So, I headed up to Lincoln Park all set to sit at the bar and fill my belly with beef…and beer. Happily, Melody was able to join me at the bar. When I eat a burger alone, I prefer to be by myself. But, I prefer to not eat a burger alone. It all worked out.

French fries with parmesan and truffle cream started the meal off. Good starchy potatoes home-cut, fried to a nice crisp with pillowy innards, and topped with some parmesan cheese. A thing of truffle cream on the side. Funny, that’s exactly what the menu said it would be. The truffle cream was pretty good. Just enough earthy truffle oil mixed in to let you know that it’s there. Honestly though, I love that expensive swine found fungus and would not have minded a little more truffle oil. But, you do get what you pay for (except for in Lincoln Park usually) and the price was right for the amount. Good french fries.

We also got deep-fried okra with herb ranch. Again, exactly what we were supposed to get. The okra was fresh and there wasn’t too much coating allowing the okra flavor to stay in the forefront. Simple, but tasty.

We split two different burgers so that I could enjoy two different flavors and see just what DMK had to offer. The first was number 1 on the menu. A grass-fed piece of ground up cow topped with aged cheddar, smoked bacon, charred balsamic red onions, and Rufus Teague’s BBQ. First, the good. The quality of the ingredients were fantastic. I’m a big fan of the real beef flavor of grass-fed bovine. Nature did not create any of the multiple stomachs to digest corn. With grass-fed you get a more natural flavor from a usually healthier animal (one that does less damage to Mother Earth as well). The toppings were high quality as well. I have a Rufus Teague sidenote for you at the bottom of this post. The bad, the patty was a little bit too thin. I’m a believer that you don’t need a 1 pound patty, that’s just way too American and unhealthy. But, a little more beef wouldn’t hurt me at all. I mean, I did have some beer to thin my blood and counteract the cholesterol intake. Honestly though, that’s my only gripe as the burger was damn tasty.

The other burger was the number 11, grass-fed lamb with sheep’s milk feta, olive tapenade, greek salad, and tzatziki. Again, really high quality ingredients full of natural flavor. However, this one tasted a bit too much like a gyro for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gyro as much as the next guy (sometimes even a bad one will do). But I wanted something a little more creative than a gyro with olive tapenade smeared all over it. That’s not a huge complaint though as I’d eat this burger any day of the week. I’m just pickin knits here.

Overall I will say that DMK Burger Bar does serve up some tasty grub, as well as a really nice beer list. If it were closer to my humble abode I’d probably make it over there on at least a semi-regular basis. As it is, with my friend Melody working there, I will probably make it back over there anyway. They are pretty much true to what they try to be and I applaud the use of grass-fed animals. It’s also not overpriced like much of its surrounding neighborhood. Even though the burgers aren’t ginormous, at $8 a pop you’ll be satisfied. That is unless you’re one of the 63% of Americans who are obese (only 30% of you were in 2002!).

Now, on to my Rufus Teague story. Way back before Binny’s corporate take-over of Sam’s Wine and Spirits I used to get little birthday gifts from Sam’s. They’d send me a card before my birthday telling me to stop by their meat counter. One of those gifts was a little jar of Rufus Teague Blazin Hot BBQ Sauce. Binny’s doesn’t do that, one of the many reasons I miss Sam’s. The hot sauce was fantastic though! I slathered that all over chicken and shrimp before grilling ’em up. I never thought about using Rufus on beef though. It did work pretty well, probably because of the smoky bacon. Whatever the reason, there’s a soft spot in my heart for my boy Rufus. Plus, Rufus is just a fun name to say.

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Last night my buddy Nick wanted to meet up for a happy hour drink. In the morning he suggested either grabbing a beer or trying a new taco joint or something, he’s a taco eating freak of nature who would hook La Pasadita up to an IV bag if he could. I had read about Lillie’s Q and was very intrigued by a BBQ place whose chef had logged time at places like Tru and Avenues and who used his grandma’s Memphis In May winning BBQ sauces. When I noticed that they served fried pickles I knew I could get Nick on board as he’s from The Muthaland, better known as Louisville, KY, where a place called Genny’s serves up frickled pickles, a dish near and dear to his tracts.

We got a table quickly as it wasn’t full yet, it did fill up shortly after we got there. The space is nice, simple, and clean. Brick walls and a nice bar, very typical of a Bucktown storefront. On the tables are the various in-house BBQ sauces. There’s the Hot Smokey, Smokey, Carolina, Carolina Gold, and Ivory. They’re all pretty self-explanatory, but we both agreed that they should tell a little about the flavor profiles. We opted to taste little dabs of each. They were all pretty solid sauces.

Of course, we started withe the fried pickles. I’m not a big pickle fan (I think my younger brother and I are the only two Jews in the world who wouldn’t slather ourselves in pickles if it were socially acceptable) but these weren’t too bad. The frickled pickles at Genny’s are thinly sliced while these were big chunks. Having been to Genny’s myself I think I agree with Nick that thin slices are better because you get a better ratio of coating to pickle. Also, these were served with their Ivory Sauce, a variation of Ranch Dressing. The proper sauce for a fried pickle should be a mixture of ranch with ketchup. All in all though, not too bad.

As we looked further into the menu we noticed a 4 bone option for the ribs. Since we wanted to try a bunch of things that seemed like a great second appetizer to share. The ribs were really good. Very tender, moist, nice subtle smokey flavor, and just the right amount of BBQ sauce caramelized on the surface. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying they are the best ribs I’ve ever had, I will say that they were damn good. Nick claims that Honey 1 has a better rib, but I’ve never tried them so I can’t comment. I will say that the ribs at Smoque are a little better than these. So, the verdict is that these are very good ribs, but not the best ribs.

For the main event we decided to try the pulled pork sandwich, tri-tip sandwich, and seasoned sweet potato fries and split everything. We got the sandwiches with the “Carolina-style” option, which is basically a pile of slaw thrown on top of the meat. The pulled pork was excellent. Very tender and juicy meat. The tri-tip, not the best. The meat was cooked properly, it just didn’t have any flavor. The brioche they use for buns had a much stronger flavor than the meat, something that should never happen with BBQ’d beef. If you take the meat out of the bun and squirt some of the Carolina Gold, a vinegary mustard sauce, all over it the meat becomes a great vessel to enjoy the sauce. Otherwise, it has no real purpose in life. Neither of the sandwiches came sauced, which is nice because you have the option of choosing the sauce that best fits your style. I thought the Smokey on the pulled pork was a great sandwich. As for the sweet potato fries, they were just your regular sweet potato fries. I will say that they were perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.

While the food was well above average I kind of expected a little more considering Chef McKenna’s background. I actually think his background was a bit of a hinderance on the food. Real BBQ is not served on brioche, and last night I found out why. The sweetness of the bread was too much for these sandwiches. A regular bun would take these sandwiches from really good all the way up to great on my scale of good to great. What do the French know about southern BBQ anyway?

We didn’t try any of their “Moonshine” cocktails, instead opted for jars of beer. They have a decent little beer list that washed all of the food down nicely.

As for the service, I thought it was fantastic. Timely, professional, not pushy at all. The place is run very smoothly.

Overall, Lillie’s Q is a really good BBQ joint but by no means a must go. If I’m walking around the area and get the craving for some BBQ I have no problems stopping in and filling my belly with their grub. However, if heading to BBQ is something planned ahead of time I’d rather meander over to Smoque. But, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Lillie’s Q, it’s just not an out-of-this-world BBQ experience.

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