There is still no official word as to what caused the fire at Ole Hardwood. Police called the fire “suspicious,” and and a few local residents think something nefarious might have happened. Either way, the “significant” damage done by the fire means that the restaurant probably won’t ever return. So it's odd that three publications all recently came out with reviews of the place. What do they all have in common? Well, let's just say that the critics won’t miss it that much.
Julia Kramer gave it one out of five stars, noting that it was hard to adequately communicate "just how disastrous my two visits to Ole Hardwood were.” The $30 Competition ribs contained “tough, congealed-tasting meat, caked with mushy dry rub,” while the brisket was “stringy” and had not “a whiff of smoke.” So what was the best part? “When you’re racking your brain to come up with 'cole slaw?,' there is a serious problem.” [TOC]
Emily Withrow says that “nowhere is ‘lipstick on a pig’ more apt than at Ole Hardwood.” The “mediocre barbecue comes dressed in its Sunday finest,” but “neither the service nor the decor--all wood, glass, and dramatic lighting--make up for them.” The appetizers are small, the pulled pork “a bit of a disaster,” and the waiter was about as “familiar with the menu as we were.” [Chicago Reader]
Pat Bruno found the menu to be a “train wreck,” and says that “gist of the grub is that it's really not very good.” The ribs were uninteresting and poorly presented. The sauces were okay, but it “was like throwing a life preserver to a rubber duck in a bathtub.” There were some hits: The pork chops were “juicy and flavorful,” the pork sliders were “quite good,” and the “slaw was crunchy and had a fired-up flavor.” But mostly it has a menu that “spells disaster.” [Sun Times]