We were able to get a sneak peek of Lillie’s Q last night, which officially opens today in Bucktown. The restaurant takes the place of Aberdeen, and is going for the “urban barbecue” design theme. So plan on finding proper napkins and cutlery at every table, though the beer still comes in mason jars. Of course, if it’s barbecue that you care about, then we have some info on the baby back ribs, the eight-hour smoked pork shoulder, and the beef tri-tip. Chef Charlie McKenna was on hand to describe how he went from working in some of the city’s most expensive restaurants, to getting in the barbecue business. Check out the full slideshow below.
The first time McKenna entered a barbecue contest with his dad they came in dead last. “We thought it was great, but the judges didn’t agree.” It was the summer before he went to culinary school at the CIA, and he’s been working constantly on his rubs and sauces since then. Even though he has gone on to work at Tru and Avenues, he’s always had barbecue on the brain. “People have asked me why I’m jumping on the barbecue bandwagon this summer. But I’ve been in it for years.”
That includes winning first place for his pork shoulder at the 2007 Memphis in May competition. In 2006, his tomato-based sauce took home the first place prize. As we mentioned earlier, this is actually the second Lillie’s Q. The first one is run by his father in Florida. When asked whether all the sauces are staying the same for this location, he confesses, “We’ve actually always made the sauces and rubs here in Chicago. I’d mail them down to my dad every once in while.”