Ole Hardwood, the Texas-style "gastro smokehouse" that quietly opened in the South Loop last week, will begin serving lunch today. The menu will serve smaller portions off the dinner menu, like the Jamaican jerk chicken and the oak wood pork "St. Louis cut" ribs. In addition, the restaurant, which is filling a BBQ void in the South Loop, will have salads like a calamari salad and a warm pear-glaze frisee salad; and a half-pound buffalo burger. Vegetarian options include a three-bean chili and seitan. Lunch will operate from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30, but Ole Hardwood won't close its doors between then and when dinner officially starts at 5 p.m.
Chef Andrew Nelson (Kevin, Coobah) sources local and fresh ingredients and plans to change the menu seasonally to keep things interesting. He uses a variety of rubs and housemade sauces to incorporate various BBQ styles. Some of the sauces can have quite a kick and we were told they're "not making BBQ for amateurs" by general manager Alexander Carlin, who is also a sommelier and will hold free wine tastings every Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
While Chicago has seen its share of BBQ joints opening this year, Carlin said that what separates Ole Hardwood is they have their own smoker, use all-natural planks, have a growing collection of small-batch bourbon and have "high quality yet casual food." Another thing that sets them apart? Fried pork chops. That's right folks. Fried pork chops. Start drooling now.