What else can I possibly say about Big Ed’s that I haven't already said before?? Tons, but this night’s visit was less about me, and all about the guys who met me for dinner this past Thursday night.
But all they knew was that I wouldn't select a dud for a guy’s night out; especially when the food category is BBQ! Other than that, they had no idea of the treat they were really in for.
They in came from far and wide. Larry who had been working in the mid-state town of Peoria miraculously made the drive back north and met us, what a trooper!, Lou trekked up from Downtown, and somehow they managed to pick up John along the way and arrived in one car.
We ordered food to the point of gluttony! They decided that two of the Big Ed platters ought to get things started right, along with some chicken wings, catfish, a few sides…
The food cometh!
Big Ed has said on a few occasions something to the tune of “if your gonna eat at a place called Big Ed’s, you better feel like it and want to take a nap afterwards”. These portions are immense!
The first thing that caught the guys attention was the quantity. Pound for pound, Big Ed’s may be the best food “value” in the BBQ business. The next thing that hits you is the taste, and it hits you full on. That what I call “quality” talking. And last is the total restaurant “experience”. By the time Ed makes his rounds to see how his patrons are doing and greets you with that big wide smile, he knew he had you back at “Hello, may I take your order”.
Larry thought it was off the charts, and real BBQ finally in Northern Lake County, Lou & John who are Southsider’s were in heaven. Everyone proclaimed the Tips the best in the business, ANYWHERE. The pulled pork & brisket were also excellent, as was the wings & catfish
Now about me. I still have a few areas of the formidable menu that haven't been explored yet, and in mentioning this to Big Ed, he promptly declared he would not serve me any more BBQ until I had accomplished the entire menu! So I’m calling it the Bid Ed diet plan! Big Ed decided that my next meal would be the Maxwell St Style Polish and his Chicago Style hot dog.
The Polish is GREAT! I loved the snappy skin and fried exterior, the “dragged through the garden” garnishes I could have done without, but next time I will order it with grilled onions and mustard and keep it true to Maxwell Street.
The hot dog was killer! Its a perfectly steamed 9:1 Vienna natural casing dog, perfectly assembled. This is one of only 5 places that is serving the natural casing franks in Northern Lake County, so its a pleasant surprise. And once again, Big Ed has impressed me with his solid and consistently great menu offerings. Someday, I’ll write a book about all the great places I’ve ate, and Big Ed’s is going to be a future story in it.