The owners of Hubbard Inn (Adolfo Garcia, Daniel Alonso, and David Mitria) have teamed up with barbecue expert Gary Wiviott for Barn & Company, which is set to open tomorrow in Lincoln Park. As we've mentioned before, this is the first time Wiviott has associated himself with a restaurant, making this a pretty big deal for local barbecue fanatics. We talked to him a few weeks ago about what he had planned for the menu, but we didn't actually get to see the 'que until yesterday.
Of course, barbecue is only one facet of this massive new project by Garcia, Alonso, and Mitria. Much like Hubbard Inn, it is obvious that loads of attention has been paid to the design of the space. To be sure, this is no barbecue shack. The rough, white wood on the walls shares space with massive panels of flat-screen TVs. Portraits of dressed up pigs even hang around the restaurant.
Though Wiviott was in brought in to develop the barbecue, executive chef Bob Zrenner will be in charge of the kitchen. He hopes the rest of the menu will complement the smoked meat, while also appealing to the bar side of the crowd. Menu items include turkey chili, Cobb salad, and pulled chicken quesadillas.
Zrenner is also in charge of making sure the restaurant continuously maintains quality que, and he seems to be taking the job very seriously: "We're here for the guests; we're a hospitality industry. But if it comes to compromising the technique and craft of barbecue just to meet volume, we won't do it."
That attitude partly explains why Wiviott became involved. He was able to pick out the kind of smoker he thought was best and was even able to select the specific kind of meat he thought should be used. He's particularly happy with the baby back ribs, which he described as being 1-3/4 down. Meatier than normal baby backs, they have more of the loin left on them from the butchering process. "We're getting a really nice rib," said Wiviott.
Of course, we'll have to wait to see how the critics stack this place up to the best in the city. In the meantime, check out our slideshow of the space and few of the dishes, along with the food and drink menus.
Barn & Company, 950 W. Wrightwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60614; 773-832-4000