There were couple of things I found here that I wouldn't have expected to be on the menu...and was really excited when they were. One was hushpuppies. There are a few stories that accompany the origin of the hushpuppy...one being that it originated in New Orleans in the 18th century where it was a creation of French nuns and called croquettes de maise. Another story claims its roots to come from hunters making it at fish frys and cook-outs to "hush the puppies" who would beg for food. I seldom find it on restaurant menus in the Chicago area and when I'm really desperate I'll grab some from the Long John Silvers drive thru, although they always leave me feeling disappointed because I know they can be so much better. The version at Kinfork really blew me away. So crunchy and yummy....especially when dipped in their amazing jalapeño lime ranch sauce!
I could have eaten those two appetizers and left a happy camper. But, wait...there's more. So. Much. More.
First, let me clue you in on these lovely cocktails we enjoyed with Ole Smokey Moonshine. I sampled the Front Porch Punch, which uses a blackberry moonshine, the Peach Smash and the Electric Lemonade, a tasty but potent little beverage featuring the 100-proof White Lightening. I couldn't pick a favorite. I say, line-up your driver and have them all. ;)
Being the mac and cheese freak that I am, I honed in on the loaded mac and cheese. I knew I needed to try some of the meat, but this cheesy dish was just calling my name. And I'm so glad I didn't ignore that calling. It was phenomenal. So gooey and warm and delicious. It was covered in smoked cheddar, sharp cheddar, white American and pepper jack cheeses with pulled pork, crispy onions and scallions. It is a huge serving - but totally shareable if you're like me and want something else as your entree but just can't resist. Just dig in and put some on your plate and pass it on. And I love that this is one of the quick dishes on their special weekday "Hot Fresh Fast" Lunch Menu that is available from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, designed to have you in and out in 30 minutes.
Ok, on to the meat...you didn't think I'd go to a place known for their barbecue and skip the meat, did you? No way! We did a triple combo - you basically get to select three meats that are seasoned with an 11-spice rub and slow smoked for about 12 hours over hickory and oak. The combos come with cornbread, jalapeño coleslaw and a loaded baked potato.
Our combo included the smoked andouille links (definitely don't miss out on these!!!), the baby back ribs and the beef brisket (OMG good!) There was nothing I tried that I wouldn't order again.
I almost forgot to mention that they also brought out a sampling of some of their popular appetizers, which included burnt ends, crispy pork wings and some of the bourbon bbq and the dry rub wings (those were two of the six wing flavors available.) My husband was excited about these. I am not a big fan of wings and usually skip them over, but these made me want to eat wings again. I really loved the bourbon bbq sauce, but the dry rub wings were also really fantastic. This place seriously has some of the best appetizers of any casual spot I've been.
Oh, and if you weren't intrigued enough by the kind of mishmash of fun dishes from different regions - the Wisconsin curds, the New Orleans hushpuppies, they also do Nashville Hot chicken, pounded and breaded in house and tossed in sauce.
The pub-chic spot is inviting with some nice private event spaces. They also offer off-site catering and have a nice list of options on their "Little Grillers" kids menu - the usual kid favorites like grilled cheese, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and cheeseburger sliders, but also some not so common kid fare. Where else can you go and find baby back ribs, pulled pork sliders and seared salmon on the kids' menu (and at just $7 with side, beverage and a free ice cream bar?)
If you happen to be heading to Woodfield Mall to do your holiday shopping, make this your mid-day lunch stop or the place to unwind after your day is done. Or...if you're like me...plan out where you're eating and then do your shopping around it. :)
5 Woodfield Mall
***We did receive a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.