Who would have thought that Stormy’s Tavern and Grille in Northfield would have ribs that rival some of the best I’ve had in Chicago. Under the guidance of “BBQ Master” Eric Jordan, Stormy’s is delivering amazing BBQ ribs, pulled pork and brisket every Sunday afternoon. I haven’t had the greatest luck finding solid BBQ, especially ribs, outside of the city of Chicago, but Eric and Stormy’s are definitely cooking up some quality food.
From what I’ve been told, Eric has been participating in the Northfield Rib Fest competition for a few years now, and actually took home the title a couple times. Ironically enough, I was a judge at that same ribfest last year, but I honestly don’t remember who won. However, I do remember that there was one plate of ribs that was the best by far, and was clearly the winner that year. Whether or not it was Mr. Jordan’s, I’m not sure, but even if it wasn’t, the ribs he’s cooking up at Stormy’s on Sundays rival anything I had at rib fest.
Ribs, Pulled Pork, Brisket
The BBQ menu is limited to ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and brisket sandwiches, each of which comes with cole slaw and baked beans. We ordered a full slab of ribs, a brisket sandwich and a pulled pork sandwich, along with a small pizza, to share between four people. Everyone wanted to try everything, so this was the best way to accomplish that. And don’t be fooled, this is truly smoked BBQ. If you go out behind the restaurant you’ll notice a large smoker filled with all of the delicious meats they are cooking up.
Along with the actual smoked meats, there are three different types of BBQ sauces. There was a traditional sauce, a sweet and spicy sauce, and some sort of mustard based sauce which I didn’t even try. I’m not a fan of the mustard base sauces; I prefer the sweetness of molasses or honey based sauces. Even the vinegar based sauces don’t really appeal to me, but I’ll take those over mustard based any day. I will say though, of the traditional and the sweet and spicy sauces, I preferred the sweet and spicy by far. It wasn’t too spicy, which I don’t like, and it wasn’t sweet to the point where it was overpowering; I just wish I could get a copy of the recipe!
As for the meats themselves, let’s start with my least favorite… the brisket. It’s not that it was bad, it’s just that I’m not a fan of brisket. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, and it was actually better than the brisket I had at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX last year, but I’m probably not a good judge of brisket in general, so take that as you will.
The pulled pork was definitely better than the brisket, but obviously not as good as the ribs. The pulled pork sandwich was pretty big, in fact it was more like a “chunk of pork” sandwich as opposed to a pulled pork sandwich. Definitely not a bad thing, as it seems like the meat was pulled directly off of the main piece of meat and placed directly on the sandwich, as opposed to being pre-pulled. There was a bit more fat on the end of the chunk than I’m used it, but it wasn’t anything I wasn’t going to eat. Topped with some of that sweet and spicy BBQ sauce, the pulled pork sandwich was definitely a tasty sandwich that I’d come back for.
As for my favorite of the meats, it was obviously the ribs. These ribs were meatier and fuller than most of the ribs I’ve encountered at BBQ places, even in the city. My only minor complaint, which the other people with me actually liked about them, was that they didn’t totally fall off the bone. The meat wasn’t hard to pull off the bone, and it wasn’t chewy at all, I just prefer that my rib meat melts off the bone when you bite in to it. But combine the sheer amount of meat on the ribs, the tenderness, and the BBQ sauce, and you’ve got some damn good ribs.
Eric is definitely doing something right over at Stormy’s in Northfield, so if you have a chance to head over there on a Sunday, I suggest you give it a shot. My only complaint about all of the food is that there weren’t any other typical sides that you expect with BBQ. Macaroni and cheese, cornbread, etc., would have been a welcome addition to our meal, but the baked beans were pretty solid. I’m not a fan of cole slaw out side of KFC (I know…), so I didn’t even try it, but I’m sure it’s just fine, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Does anyone have any other amazing BBQ places in the northern suburbs that I should try? Let me know in the comments below.