Recently, Chicago Culinary Kitchen held the grand opening of their new BBQ restaurant in the northwestern suburb of Palatine. They specialize in Texas-style barbeque and local craft beer, so when we were invited to check out their new space we couldn’t resist. We decided to partner with a hilarious local podcaster and fitness foodie. He visited CCK and ate a bunch of food in order to give you the scoop on what they’re cooking up. He paints us all a colorful picture of his visit to this BBQ restaurant that doubles as Culinary Studio.
There comes a time in all of our lives when certain urges, desires even, consume our thoughts. This very thing happened to me one weekend when I was awakened by such a feeling. I knew at that very moment that I would have to feed this longing. My aching, sore, gym worn muscles demanded it, in fact. Protein, in the form of meat forged by smoke and fire! This was a primal urge. Fortunately for I, the Chicago Culinary Kitchen rose to the challenge effortlessly.
Located in Palatine, right off Quentin Rd, I could see the piles of both Apple and Cherry wood as I drove up. Confident that I had found the right place, I walked to the door, opened it, and my nose was greeted by a wonderful smell that spoke clearly to my early morning urges. No doubt about it, CCK is a place of barbecue. The smells of brisket and ribs were not all that greeted me however, there was a friendly voice as well. Kristina Gaardbo, one half of the dynamic duo behind Chicago Culinary Kitchen and resident craft beer expert, welcomed me warmly. Taking a look at the menu; I honed in on traditional favorites such as beef brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, and links. What caught my eye in particular though was the special for that weekend, Pastrami beef ribs. Encouraged by Kristina to give it a try, I decided upon a feast of brisket, pit beans, and those curious pastrami ribs.
I turned to take my seat in anticipation, and then quickly absorbed the scene around me. Perhaps it was my hunger that clouded my eyes and ears before, but I was charmed by the atmosphere. Long, solid communal tables were lined up in rows across the restaurant, promoting conversation between the many patrons already seated. Rock music filled the air as I leaned back in my seat and hummed along with the tune. This place seemed the perfectly understated mixture of rustic and punk. It had not been even five minutes since I had sat down when the doors to the pit room flung open, and there I saw it.
Sitting unassumingly upon a metal tray, and quickly making its way toward me, were the objects of my desire. Thick, beautiful cuts of brisket with a strikingly dark, rich bark and deep smoke rings that expertly told its tale. Hulking, meaty bones of pastrami ribs turned heads with its wondrous fragrance. The tray was then set in front of me and my nose was tickled by the sweet smell of the beans, I smiled. Thanking the server, I turned my attention back to the tray and what accompanied my order. Fresh, spicy pickle chips stood ready to cleanse the palette and two fluffy slices of white bread looked well suited for sopping up the juices that would soon flow.
Unable to hold out any longer, I dug into the brisket. It was brisket done right; tender and juicy with a beautiful bark. It would have melted in my mouth had I given it a chance. Now fully committed to my meal, I took a bone of ribs into my hands and sunk my teeth into it. The pastrami ribs were simply wonderful. Spicy, fragrant, and deeply satisfying, I didn’t regret my choice. The pickle chips made for a fresh and crisp transition between the flavors of the brisket and ribs. The pit beans were fantastic and filling. I could taste the bacon as well as the drippings of the brisket, it made for a very substantial side. The bread cleaned up the meal quite well and I was soon looking at an empty tray. It was at this moment that I made the acquaintance of the Pit Master, Greg Gaardbo. I thanked him readily and he smiled and asked if I had tried the pulled pork? I replied that I had not but was very much ready to.
I soon got my wish and found myself staring at a mini cast iron skillet filled with the good stuff. Tender, juicy, fragrant, and rich; I’ll spare you the additional adjectives. Not once, did I find myself wishing for sauce. Curiously, I asked Greg about his technique, to which he openly shared some of his secrets. It’s not often that you find a Pitmaster willing to talk about how they make magic. It makes total sense that Greg and Kristina also teach classes at CCK. You can find out more on the Chicago Culinary Kitchen website.
My meal ended on a sweet note. A bold, spiced, wonderfully tart, sweet note. I devoured a slice of the Fireball Whiskey glazed apple pie. I loved it. I could taste the whiskey, it perfectly bridged the gap between the barbeque I’d eaten and the dessert I was now enjoying. The thick, hearty crust was stuffed with a refreshing apple filling that both cleansed my palette and cooled my mouth. Did I mention that this was just lunch??
In my opinion, Chicago Culinary Kitchen is a Barbeque destination. Check their website and social channels for hours and availability. Visit soon, but get there early because they do sell out.
What He Ate
- Pastrami Seasoned Beef Ribs
- Pulled Pork
- Pit Beans
- Fireball Whisky Apple Pie
O. is a fitness and food enthusiast. A self-proclaimed millennial of the Nintendo generation, he’s obsessed with storytelling and video game design. Currently he is developing two new podcasts, one exploring game design and another that will take listeners on a trip through World history infused with humor. To find out more about O. and what he’s up to, bookmark this article and check back frequently because once his newest podcasts go live we’ll link to them here.
*Photos courtesy of Chicago Culinary Kitchen
Chicago Culinary Kitchen