PorkChop Glenwood's Grand Opening is Friday

Living in the South suburbs, we definitely have a shortage of new restaurants being added to the culinary landscape. We have some great classics that are good and reliable and some innovative and trendy spots, but for the most part there hasn't been a lot happening on the food front this far south for a while. For most new openings, re-models, new menu launches I've been to since starting this blog, I find myself traveling into the city or to the west or north suburbs...until now. And Jovanis Bouargoub, I thank you for that!

Bouargoub is the restauranteur who has opened seven restaurants in the past four years, including south suburban Glenwood's new spot, Porkchop. The French-born graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris moved to the states in 2001 and relocated to Chicago in 2004, opening his first Porkchop restaurant in the West Loop in 2011. This latest PorkChop location (the first outside of Chicago) joins five others and also a steakhouse Bouargoub opened called Chop.

Walking into the Glenwood location, it gives the vibe of a classy casual, yet cozy neighborhood joint that is wrapped in Southern Hospitality with aromas that give you a hint that you're about to dig into something even better than grandma would make. Bouargoub describes PorkChop as “a mashup of the French lust for living in the moment and the quirkiness of rural counterculture."

With a few minutes to spare on the way to catch a train at the VanBuren stop last fall, I quickly popped into the express location at 29 E. Adams and grabbed a pulled chicken sandwich that was AMAZING, so when I was passing through Glenwood recently and saw a "PorkChop" sign affixed to the building at 90 Nugent Street, I prayed to the foodie gods that it was going to be a new location by the same owner and that I'd be able to have another one of those pulled chicken sandwiches much closer to home. When I learned that my foodie prayers had been answered, I couldn't get there fast enough.

With my first visit to a PorkChop being to an express location, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Glenwood's location is a full service restaurant and beer and whiskey bar. So, really my prayers were answered and then some.

My husband and I visited on a quiet afternoon as they were open and operating and easing into things before the grand opening, but I could envision what this place will soon look like on a Friday night with tables full and live music playing and I plan to soon get back there to enjoy the atmosphere even more.

There's a very big menu that might seem overwhelming at first, but covers something for everyone. We started off with some fried pickles after our server mentioned how good they were. She didn't steer us wrong. They were fantastic - thick-sliced and crispy served with Green Goddess sauce and greens with a light dressing.

There's an extensive drink menu and a variety of whiskey flights. Hubby had one of his favorites, the Old Fashioned, and I simply requested "something fruity" and was happy with the vodka/raspberry Schnapps/Sprite that was delivered. It was a nice switch from a current go-to, vodka/cranberry juice, and I have to admit, the sweeter the better for me. It was like a grown-up kiddie cocktail. 

I simply couldn't decide on one menu item, so we got three, including a big combination platter for maximum sampling. I loved everything we tried - and it was a diverse bunch of tastes - but I think my favorite may be the chicken and waffles. The marinated, battered & fried chicken was succulent and as good as it gets. It was served with a side of ancho chili syrup that added a flavorful touch of heat.

We also tried shrimp and grits, which were absolutely amazing. 

And with so many choices of BBQ, I had to try the BBQ platter so that I could get a taste of several items. It came with 1/4 ribs, hot sausage, a chicken slider, a pork slider, brisket, corn on the cob, coleslaw and cornbread. Every piece of meat was so tender and every drop of sauce was delicious. The platter came with the "Damn Good" sauce on each item. I also tried the Chipotle Bourbon and the Texas sauce. There is a fourth sauce that they offer - a Rosemary Olive Vodka Sauce. If you opt for something non-BBQ for your entree, be sure to get the BBQ sliders (you can get pork or chicken or a combination) as a starter. There's three in an order and, in my opinion, they are A MUST if you visit PorkChop.

At the chef's suggestion, I made a go at dessert even though I was pretty stuffed at this point. I tried a couple bites of the rum raisin bread pudding, which was magnificent (and even better warmed up the next day at home.) They have a scrumptious selection of desserts that includes cinnamon rolls, an adult root beer float, bacon maple glazed doughnuts and the pie of the day.

If you're as excited as I am about BBQ and all the other good stuff they'll be serving up, be sure to stop by this Friday, January 29, starting at 7 p.m. for their Grand Opening. The event is free and includes live music, complimentary appetizers, menu samples and $5 beers and shots. Follow PorkChop-Glenwood on Facebook for more info and updates and visit the website at www.chicagoporkchop.com www.chicagoporkchop.com.

Oh, and the manager shared the daily specials with me, so keep these in mind if you are planning a visit.

A few other random tidbits:

- They'll be serving brunch! (weekends only)

- There's an outdoor patio space and you can look for outdoor dining after we get through this crazy Chicago winter.

- They have pretty much any Southern comfort food you could ask for. Besides traditional barbecue dishes like rib tips, brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, short ribs and chicken, you'll also find red beans and rice, collard greens, po' boys and etoufee.

- Drink up! They carry around 50 different bourbons and whiskeys.

- Drinks in mason jars.

- You'll also find PorkChop locations at 941 W. Randolph in the West Loop, 1516 E. Harper Court in Hyde Park, 555 S. Dearborn in the South Loop, 29 E. Adams in the Central Loop and also at Navy Pier.