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Some Soul and Barbeque Notes

YourPalWill | Aug 15, 200411:31 PM

Today, I ventured down 79th Street with the original intention of trying out a new looking place called Lagniappe, which advertises cajun and creole specialities via brightly colored neon in its windows. Lagniappe is located on 79th one block east of Ashland.

I can't decide what the deal is with this restaurant. Today, the door was locked, there was no furniture inside, and the menu board was blank. Did this place have the fastest opening and closing of any restaurant in the history of Chicago or has it just not yet opened.

I hope that it's the latter because this town is in serious need of some good creole cooking.

With my Lagniappe plan scrapped, I opted for Soul Unlimited, just half a block east on 79th which had recived good press from paul Mollica in recent months. Unfortunately for me, I arrived right as the 2:30 church crowd was letting out. I grabbed a table and waited, waited and waited. My waitress checked in at about ten minutes to ask if I was dining in, to which I replied "yes", then disappeared to the back only to be seen 15 minutes later delivering tea to the table next to me.

Having waited 25 minutes without a menu, water or anything close to acceptable service, I decided to scrap this option too and move on. As I walked out the door, I was enticed by the wonderful smell of very good barbeque.

Ribs Unilimited makes up one third of the 79th Street Unlimited empire along with Soul Unlimited and Fish Unlimited. It is your typical south side rib house decorated with bullet proof glass.

As I stood in the three deep line, I inquired to the lady in front of me as to whether the ribs were worth the wait. She proceeded to tell me that the ribs were so good that everytime her sister visisted from Columbia, SC that Ribs unlimited was their first stop.

Obviously, she had this Carolinian's attention with that statement.

I ordered a large order of tips with mixed regular and hot sauce. The tips were excellent- tender and smoky with good evidence of a smoke ring. The sauce was outstanding- a basic red sauce with spicy hints of yellow mustard which led me to understand why a South Carolinian would be so crazy about them.

I'm looking forward to making another trip to Ribs Unlimited soon to give the slabs and wings a try.

A couple of other notes I have made of late:

It appears that BJ's Market is either franchising itself or is an aggressive expansion mode. I've noticed two new stores within relative close distance to each other- one on 79th at Damen and one on Western Avenue around 97th Street. I certainly hope that their expansion doesn't led to a dimunition in the quality of their excelklent soul food.

Recently, I praised the baking effort of AM's Lil Sweet Me Me Bakery at Western and 118th. Two weekends ago, I drew the straw for providing dessert for a dinner at Inspiration Cafe, the northside program provide meals and life training with dignity to homeless people.

I originally intended to serve Lil Sweet Me Me's outstanding Pecan Pie. However, at the last minute, the staff there talked me into going with their grandmother's recipe Lemon Meringue.

My oh My oh My. That may be the finest lemon meringue pie I have tasted in my life. Forget that insipid lemon jello looking stuff that you see in most lemon meringue pies. This filling was tart and sweet with the consistency of a soft creamy key lime pie filling. The meringue was sugary and sweet crackling as it touched the tongue- what a treat.

While I was in, i inquired about the name. AM is the initials of the present owner of the bakery. Lil Sweet me Me is the name that the children in the family gave to their grandmother from Tennessee who was the source of and inspiration for the tremendous recipes that they use in the bakery today.

The folks at Lil Sweet Me Me's are fine folks and tremendous bakers.

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