Blackwood BBQ has four locations in Chicago, but the food is far from standard chain fare. I popped into their small counter-serve outlet at 307 West Lake Street for lunch on Wednesday August 24.
On my visit, I opted for the pulled pork sandwich, which consists of a 1/3 lb. of house-smoked meat on a buttered brioche bun, with house pickles and a choice of sauces (I had the Alabama white sauce, which added a tasty tang). On the side, I got the 3 cheese mac 'n' cheese, the smokehouse beans, and a portion of Blackwood's apple coleslaw.
Blackwood's pork is mustard brined, rubbed with hand-prepared spices and herbs, and smoked for 15 hours over hickory and apple wood logs. The flavour at the end of this is amazing, as is the consistency of the meat.
The sandwich was pure pleasure, and the sides were equally good. Sometimes you can get tasty meat but then feel let down by sub-par side dishes; not so at Blackwood, where they treat side dishes with respect and make them all in-house. Of the 3 cheese mac 'n' cheese, they boast
We take our mac and cheese very seriously – this is not something out of a box... We spend more time on this side dish than some people do their entire menu.
They have every reason to feel proud of this dish as the combination of yellow cheddar, extra sharp white cheddar, and aged Gruyere makes the dish feel like a meal in itself. Similarly, the smokehouse beans were spot-on, and the apple coleslaw was impressive.
Service was quick, friendly, and efficient. Overall, a great experience and one I'd highly recommend for anyone wandering in the Loop around lunchtime. An authentic taste of the South in the heart of the big city.