Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Things you can still smoke in Chicago bars

Oh! Oh! I'll take "barbecued meat" for $500, Alex.

Wait... did I phrase that right? I got it backwards. Anyway. "Jeopardy" is not important. Barbecue, as you know, is.

I'm a Kansas Citian, and as such am always on the lookout for new purveyors of the tender, juicy ambrosia known as barbecue. Arthur Bryant's is the best stuff on the planet. Period. But finding a favorite place here in Chicago is a bit more of an adventure.

I've mentioned my favorite places before: Honey 1, up on the Northwest Side, and Lem's, down on the South Side. Both are finger-staining good.

And now we can add Risque Cafe to my top 10 list. The meat is smoked in bourbon barrels--that's one bonus point. They have more than 200 (actually, when I was there, 197) domestic beers available--that's another bonus point. And there are '50s style pinup girls on the wall--that's, like, two bonus points wearing fishnets and high heels.

The food itself, what you should rightly judge a barbecue joint on, is tasty. The brisket is nice and tender, and the smoked sausages were good too, if not particularly well-seasoned.

On the minus side of the culinary ledger (some call this a "menu") were, unfortunately, the sauces. As the kids might say, they were weak. Although the mild, spicy and sweet all contained bourbon, none really stood out. Like Bryant's. Yeah, despite being a Royals fan, I do set the bar high.

Ignore the white bread, you fools!

If any of you have any questions about Chicago barbecue or Risque--which I give, I dunno, three sauce mops out of five, for those of you keeping score at home--let me know. I enjoy barbecue snobbery almost as much as I enjoy barbecue munchery.


M. Gants v4.0 said...

Have you ever tried Smokin' Woody's on Lincoln Ave? I thought the bbq was pretty decent, but its the sweet potato fries that really do the trick for me.

Yummy :)

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic. I believe you were in an English class I taught years ago at KU. I read that you had published a book and I want to congratulate you!

Chicago was a great restaurant town...back in my dim memory. Enjoy.

Ellen Kroeker

Gerry said...

hey, ellen! I remember your class clearly... for some reason, the part that sticks in my mind the most is memorizing a randall jarrell poem about world war one. possibly because I memorized it VERY thoroughly.

anyway, it's good to hear from you--shoot me an e-mail!