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[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Gary Wiviott is one voice in the barbecue choir that you can and should single out. Author, critic, general barbecue savant, I followed that voice through the hickory smoke wisps to Barn and Company, where he serves as Consulting Pit Master. While I have somewhat mixed feelings about cheese-on-beef endeavors, I ordered the Brisket Melt ($13 with fries) with high hopes. Unfortunately, it didn't quite measure up.

Hickory-smoked, sliced (not chopped) brisket, cheddar cheese, smoked onions, and bacon barbecue sauce sit between some hearty, toasted bread. The brisket has a nice smoke ring and good bark, but also sports a hefty fat cap. I'm certainly no fatophobe, but this was a good 1/3-inch thick after smoking; just enough to make you notice you're eating fat. Still, it had a lot of flavor.

What did not was the bacon barbecue sauce, so indistinguishable here, I had to ask if it was even on there ("I think," I was told). The cheddar was pretty neutral, but the smoked onions are so dominant, I had to take some off. Basically, if you could somehow make French onion soup in sandwich form, it would taste a lot like this. I still prefer mine in liquid form, and my brisket a bit more dressed down.

Barn and Company

950 West Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map)
773-832-4000
barnandcompany.com

Josh Conley once went to Antarctica. But not for the food. He ridicules his two small children HERE, because they can't read yet.

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