Getting off the Red line at the Lawrence Red Line CTA station I was headed to the Windy City RibFest at Lawrence and Broadway. The sun was shining, it was early enough to beat the crowds, and best of all I was still hungry and ready for a rib session for Brunch. Well at least that was how I felt at the start, half way through I was to learn that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, in this case ribs
My first taste of the day was from “Famous Dave’s” I was pleased to see that they had a ‘sensible’ sample size of just 2 bones for $5. The ribs were already coated in their ‘Rich and Sassy’ sauce which was a tomato based sauce sweetened with molasses and pineapple. The ribs themselves looked appealing, they had a really nice bite to them, solid meat, moist and not too fatty. The real kicker was the ‘sweet and sassy ‘ sauce which was a nice sweet flavour. I am no rib expert but I was pretty taken with this effort, these are my kind of ribs.
The next set of ribs was taken from the “Big Bone” team, for $7 their sampler was a good size and you got a few different rib cuts. The ribs were a bit fattier, and they had a light smoky taste, you really needed to add one of their sauces to complement them. I had their sweet BBQ sauce which was really good and made the plain ribs 10 times better. I think I am starting to get the idea of this Rib eating business. Some stand alone and some need sauce to make them work.
“Uncle Bub’s” ribs won my award for the best presentation, I had the sampler again, 3 bones for $7 (starting to see a pattern yet?), but to help with the eating they chopped them into the three and laid them out cleanly so that you could add a different sauce to each if you so wished. I was a bit boring and just went for a drizzle of their basic BBQ sauce. Although these ribs seemed to have the least meat on them so far, the meat that they did have was crispy and the bones were nicely charred, I really liked the sauce too.
My last plate of ribs was from the Aussom Assie guys, I had to show some colonial brotherhood or something like that anyway. I was tempted to try some of their shrimps but I was fixated on getting my handle on this whole rib thing. I ended up (for a change) getting another 3 bone sampler for $7. These were a bit fatty and I actually struggled to eat them, maybe I was all ribbed out by this point. They did come with a traditional Australian fruit based barbecue sauce which was probably the best sauce I tasted all day. I feel that I ought to apologise to the guy at my table who enthusiastically enquired as to what I had got and whether it was any good. I can still see his crestfallen face as I gave my considered opinion that to be honest they all taste the same to me and I can’t really tell you which ones are the best. Just at that moment I felt that maybe I was at the wrong table, I think that the real rib enthusiast should be made to wear a badge or a bell of some sort to alert those like myself who are just passing by and getting passed by. whoosh.
There were two other teams at the RibFest, Texas Thunder BBQ (http://www.texasthunderbbq.com/) and Chicago BBQ Company (http://www.chicagobbq4u.com/). The only reason why I did not eat from them was that I was totally ribbed out, but to be honest would I have been able to tell you anything different. I think I have used up my full complement of rib describing words.
In the end my highlights, apart from watching the el rolling by every 15 minutes, were the ribs from Famous Dave’s both the bones and the sauce, after that the bbq sauce from Aussom Aussies,and then the meat from Uncle Bub’s. But what do I know? just that ribs are much more filling than I expected and there is something different about each one, and that your face gets covered in sauce and 1 napkin is just not enough.