Monday, November 22, 2010

Lillie's Q - New Winter Menu Items

I was invited (read: offered free food to try) to Lillie's Q to photograph and taste some new items that will (or have) appear on a winter menu. This was an exciting opportunity because Lillie's is my favorite new BBQ spot to invade Chicago amongst many rivals (read my previous experience). Even though I did not pay for my food this time, my opinion of the high quality and tasty food coming out of the kitchen is unchanged. The various BBQ sauce options on the table are reasons alone to keep returning. The four items we tried were hush puppies, grilled pimento cheese, hot-links and collard greens. 

Hush puppies
A new “For The Table” appetizer. Homemade corn batter is mixed with scallions and pimentos, then formed into balls, and finally deep-fried. The light and crispy hush puppies are served with a homemade sweet potato dressing for dipping. There are nine hush puppies in each order, and each order costs $5.

Erica is more the expert on all things cornmeal and bread and she gave two thumbs up. I liked the sweet potato dipping sauce, though it could have used a bit more kick and it was a little to runny for my taste. When in doubt, reach for the BBQ sauce and life is grand (I can put good BBQ sauce on anything). The presentation is great, a silver cafeteria tray with a small cast iron dish and glass jar. 

Grilled pimento cheese
A new “Non-Q” item added to the menu due to customer requests and popularity of the pimento cheese appetizer. Lillie’s Q pimento cheese (cheddar, pimentos, jalapenos, Duke’s Mayonnaise, spices) is spread between two slices of thick brioche Texas Toast. The sandwich is then cooked in cast iron and served hot. The sandwich costs $8, and patrons can add house made bacon to it for an additional dollar.

Perhaps our favorite of the day was the Pimento cheese sandwich (grilled cheese Lillie's style). This is a great option for non-q visitors, though you're missing out if you skip the meat. It's served on delicious Texas toast and has just the right amount of kick to keep non-spicy people (i.e. Erica) around. A very good dish. I'm a little skeptical of the $8 price tag, especially compared to other menu items, but the flavors are great. 

Texas-style hot link
Lillie’s Q has added a house made Texas-style hot link to its list of BBQ meats. The Texas-style hot links are half beef and half pork, and they are smoked in-house for about two hours.

There’s a “Hot Link Sandwich” served on a brioche bun for $8, and patrons can make the sandwich “Southern Style” (topped with house made coleslaw) for an additional dollar. The hot links are also available by the half-pound ($10) and by the pound ($18).

The Texas-style hot link is also available as part of the “Taste of LQ” where patrons choose three of the five Lillie’s Q BBQ meats (Texas-style hot link, pulled pork, baby back ribs, tri-tip, quarter chicken) as a platter. The “Taste of LQ” costs either $17 (without baby back ribs) or $19 (including baby back ribs).

Collard greens
A new side. The collard greens are braised with ham hocks, pork stock, cider vinegar, hot sauce, and onions. Each order costs $4.

Our main course featured house made hot-links and collard greens. The greens are a unique and acquired taste. Chef McKenna agreed that some people love them and some hate them. I appreciate his adventurous spirit to make the best collard greens available. And to his credit, they were probably as good as you can get them (without having a previous experience). Erica had eaten them before and agreed they were the best she had experienced (though she is in the "not love" camp). For me, throw a little BBQ sauce on and everything is great. 

As for the hot-links, I am impressed with the ability to make great sausage in-house. My first impression was that those two links was a lot of food. In fact, that was only the half-pound portion. After a few bites the "hot" starts to come through slowly, but in a good way. The heat is subtle enough to prepare yourself with either a glass of cold beer or mild BBQ sauce. I significantly enhanced my hot link experience after I added BBQ sauce to the equation. This is just another example of the way the delicious sauce perfectly compliments the meat. Next time I will try a hot-link sandwich, my preferred method of enjoying BBQ. 

It is no surprise that the new items are just as good as the "old" items. Lillie's is a welcome addition to the Chicago Q scene and I look forward to more great dishes and bottles of BBQ sauce.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see a place making its own sausage! We need more places like that in the world.

    But bummed you beat me to Lillie's Q! I replied to their tweet less than 24 hours after they announced they were looking for a blogger, and they had already picked one!



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