This is going to be a strange review. First, I usually don’t write about a restaurant after visiting only one time. So much can be overlooked, so keep that in mind. Second, q is an enigmatic concept. It’s just… well, different.
Let’s start with the location. q is on the Gold Coast, at Dearborn and Division – a quiet, upscale neighborhood you wouldn’t expect to host a barbeque joint. And the buildout is really nice. And they have an Executive Chef.
Okay, enough with the italics. After being seated in a spacious booth and opening my laptop, a server came by with what we in the South call lagniappe – a bit of something for free. House-made chips and bread & butter pickles made my mouth water. Bread & butters are my favorite pickle, and these were exceptional for having all the flavor without being as sweet as the store-bought variety. The chips had an excellent texture but were lacking just a bit of kick (especially for this genre); I would have enjoyed a dash of paprika or something similar to light up my tongue. However, they steadily disappeared as the meal went forward.
Oh yeah, another important benefit to eating barbeque in a more formal environment: there is a full bar. And they carry Chopin vodka.
A server named Ya-Ya (hope the spelling is correct) came by and chatted. She was friendly, laid-back, and answered all my questions. We talked about favorites and what I might eat. It was decided that the bacon-cheddar hush puppies were a must-try. They rocked. Crispy outside, flaky inside, with flecks of jalapeño and wonderful bacon-cheddar flavor. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! The tasties were served with a chipotle aioli that was the perfect complement. It had just a hint of sweetness to it. Use the sauce and life will be good.
Being a native of St. Louis, the St. Louis-style ribs were a no-brainer. These are spare ribs and contain a bit more fat than back ribs, but are all the more flavorful for it. I highly recommend them, but some people may be put off by the small layer of fat along the edge, if you’re not expecting that. My half-slab contained about seven bones, which were smoked to the most beautiful pink. They were so tender the meat fell from them while I inhaled their intoxicating aroma. They were served with three sauces: a Carolina-style vinegar sauce, a sweet & smoky sauce, and a sweet & smokey sauce with some heat in it. While all good, do what any self-respecting barbeque eater does, and push them to the side. The meat doesn’t deserve to have sauce put on it.
And yes, those are tasty pickled onions. And the cole slaw is excellent: red and green cabbage with a mix of savory herbs in a creamy dressing. My pet peeve with barbeque joints is the crappy sides they set alongside their food. Why spend so much effort getting the meat right and then slap cole slaw from a bucket on the plate? From what I experienced, you won’t have that problem at q.
It’s only been open a couple of months, but q has its shit together. My service was attentive. Ya-Ya was friendly but didn’t hover over me. The restaurant manager found a good time to ask how everything was going. I was able to talk, eat, and work on my laptop without ever feeling like I was being interrupted. The environment is beautiful. And, as I’ve shared my experience with others over the past week, I’ve discovered there is quite a bit of buzz in the city. This restaurant is not undiscovered.
I’ll be going back, just as soon as I nap off the last meal. I noticed a macaroni & cheese brulée that has my name on it.