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Posts Tagged ‘Barbecue’

Crystal Lake Rib House Review – Crystal Lake, IL


Crystal Lake Rib House ReviewYeah, I’m just not a rib guy.  Never have been.  I’ll cook them for others, I’ll go to restaurants that serve them, they just aren’t for me. When it comes to BBQ, give me pulled pork (I make an excellent one), BBQ sausage, smoked turkey, chopped ham ‘cue, maybe some beef.

Besides, I’ve been to the two BBQ capitals of the western world, Lockhart, TX, and the North Carolina BBQ trail. Who can compete with those destinations?

A friend wanted some BBQ chicken, so after considerable research, off we motored to Crystal Lake Rib House, in Crystal Lake, IL, a distant suburb of Chicago, that toddling town.

These guys have apparently won bucketloads of awards, and in addition to the restaurant will cater your event or roast a whole pig for you. (I’d love that).

We started with the “Sweet Vidalia Onion Rings,” which were good sized and had a light breading primarily of cornmeal. You could have a choice of one or two dipping sauces with those. Enjoyable.

My friend ordered the BBQ 1/2 chicken, which was four generous pieces, taters, slaw and a roll, and I was up for catfish (I have been a lot lately), and they presented me with two monster filets, fries, slaw, and a roll. Tartar sauce, lemons, and honey butter on the side.

The cat had a crispy cornmeal based breading, not too heavy, fried to perfection, and the chicken was juicy and amped up with the flavorful sauce. Like most people mentioned about this, the side of “red potatoes in butter” will make anybody happy, and the fries are of the “steak fries” size and texture. Again, excellent.

I generally don’t read other people’s reviews before I go to a place, I know, odd, huh, but do after, and for some reason, this place is currently getting a bad rap. There is a trend for people to launch into trashing a restaurant based on hearsay from a friend or relative, and that can throw a joint’s stars/points/numbers way off. It’s not fair.

We had good food today, as good as I’ve had anywhere, at a fair price, with prompt courteous service.  I can’t ask for more.

Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Perfect Crispy Rings


Crystal Lake Rib House Review

BBQ 1/2 Chicken


Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Catfish fillets


Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Menu, Click to Enlarge, Prices Subject to Change

Crystal Lake Rib House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Crystal Lake Rib House Review


Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review


Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have  spawned in those areas, including the mini chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard grub on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave, or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chucks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crock pot, throw it in before leaving for the factory, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregular sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6 pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even liked the applesauce, which isn’t really sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Dine in / Carryout menu. Locations.


Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Prior to heating

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Out of the oven

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal Review

Memphis Factory





Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review


Sycamore, IL – The Country Store and Catering


Small towns delight me, and especially in the Deep South or Upper Midwest.  You can drive around almost any corner, and find a gem of a surprise, whether it’s a small town festival, a jewel of a piece of architecture, a funky shop, or a surprise of a restaurant.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I hit one last year by accident, we were driving down US 101 in California, feeling a bit hungry, and I said out loud “at the next exit we will pull off and there will be some cool small town thing happening, and we will eat there.”   The town was Paso Robles, and it was the “Barbecue Fest in the Park”, which was a little short on fest, and a little short on BBQ, but we, and the newest member of our family, our beautiful dog “Liv”, had a great time.

Tooling around outstate Illinois today, I was looking for one place, and ended up at another.  One of those places the car automatically slams on the brakes because of an aroma in the air.

Today it was the smoke from an outdoor barbecue, and the place is called “The Country Store and Catering” in Sycamore, IL.  More of a butcher counter than anything, the retail portion is full of house-made sausages and smoked meats.   But behind the register, there’s a sign with their grilled meats available as sandwiches, and I went with a ‘seasoned butterflied pork chop’.

Served on a hamburger bun with your choice of a whole host of condiments, including six different barbecue sauces, this is one fine sandwich, and one great piece of meat.

Clear blue summer skies, great barbecue, pastoral countryside, the kind of stop Mrs. Burgerdogboy and Liv would have really enjoyed.  But they couldn’t make this trip.  Maybe next time.

Country Store Sycamore IL

The Country Store on Urbanspoon


Nationwide – Famous Dave’s BBQ


See, I always thought if you wanted to hit the BBQ capitals of the US, you headed for Memphis, or St. Louis, or Texas…or the Carolinas.

But no, it turns out the BBQ mecca of the country is a tiny hamlet in Northern Wisconsin, called Hayward…. famous as the location of the Birkebinder,(oh, look it up!) Lumberjack contests, a couple of really big fish statues, and the birthplace of Famous Dave’s BBQ. (Caution, loud music upon opening the site).

Dave opened his first outlet there in the early 90s, at a resort he bought, and before too long, was serving up to 1000 folks a night! But this unveiling only came after Dave had spent 25 years investigating what puts the “Q” in barbecue, and perfecting his own secret recipes.

Today there are Famous Dave’s everywhere, in 36 states, with a couple hundred outlets open, both company owned and franchised locations.

I picked up the Baby Back and Meat combo for Mrs. BDB yesterday, she deserved a treat and she loves her ‘cue!

The platter, at $20.99, includs 1/3 slab of ribs, an extra meat choice (she got brisket), corn bread muffin, corn cobette, and two sides (mac n cheese and slaw).

She pronounced it delightful, and there was ample enough quantity that she’ll be gnawing on it for a second day. For her to like it says alot, because we have been to (arguably) the BBQ mecca of the US, Lockhart, TX, and grazed our way through their fine establishments.

Famous Dave’s is supposed to have a righteous burger, and I’ll have to try that sometime.

Location finder and menu online.

(Exterior shot of restaurant from the corporate website).

Famous Dave's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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