Continuing with the comprehensive survey of Chicago barbecue (is that a VI project?), I returned to Salt Creek Barbecue in Elk Grove (in a mall on the northwest corner of Devon and Tonne/Wooddale - with two other restaurants, one of which, Mandana's, which started life as a suburban Noon-o-Kebab, is also worth visiting). The client has decided to use us, and it was time to see if I could expand the business. Since the meeting was at 3:30, and ended almost at 5, I decided to carry some barbecue home.
This time I was not going to be distracted by the specials, though they had some interesting ones yet again: beef ribs, fish, cajun links. One full slab, and one pulled pork dinner, please, extra regular sauce, to go. Sitting in traffic forever with the smell of the food was sweet torment, but I finally got home and broke into it.
The pulled pork was a sad experience. The meat was very well prepared, thick, long strings of pork, tender but with a bit of resistance. Almost perfect. But the sauce had no tang, and a very sugary after taste - way too sweet for me. And even when I dosed it with the extra sauce, which was not sweet, the sugar still came through, plus you drowned the tender pork. I really wanted to like it, because they had done such a good job with the cooking, but my verdict is definitely negative, with sadness. Unless you like your barbecue sweet.
The ribs were better, though I swear I caught them pulling pre-packed ribs from a refrigerator and popping them into a microwave to start (and how can I approve of that!). Then, I think they were browned in a flame, and re-sauced a little bit. The end result was pretty good. Nice meaty ribs, chewy (not fall off the bone), which is the way I like them. Slightly tangy sauce, applied to a shining glaze. Lightly smoky flavor. Turned out no one else in my family wanted barbecue, so I ate them for a few days, and they remained tasty. All served on thick, hearty, slighly yellowish, slices of white bread. A step up from Wonder.
The sauce is medium-thick tomato-based, but with a touch of chile and vinegar. They also offer other sauces, including thicker/sweeter, and a spicy one.
There is a link to a menu below. I had a lot of difficulty finding any info on this place off the web. Not in Metromix, and they do not seem to have a web site - this is all I could find. But I swear I saw another branch of this place on North Avenue out around Carol Stream recently.
Anyway, they get good meat, and know how to cook it, and offer some good, interesting specials. And prices are not bad. But they need to work on their saucing, particularly for the Pulled Pork. i would not make a special trip, but I will go back.
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