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Russell's BBQ

Russell's BBQ
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  • Post #61 - October 26th, 2016, 9:57 am
    Post #61 - October 26th, 2016, 9:57 am Post #61 - October 26th, 2016, 9:57 am
    Had a great dinner last Sunday.

    Russell's.jpg

    The sliced brisket sandwich My Bride ordered was noticeably better filled than my roasted ham sandwich (long time). Good thing as it was significantly more expensive. Two meals for My Bride.

    Atmosphere was awesome as it always is. Plenty of families with grandparents in tow. Plenty of grandparents visiting on their own. You could almost hear them mention "I have been coming here since high school back in the 40's". :)

    Place was very busy and as large as it is it was about half to 3/4 full. Bustling.

    All good!
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #62 - January 12th, 2019, 2:47 pm
    Post #62 - January 12th, 2019, 2:47 pm Post #62 - January 12th, 2019, 2:47 pm
    I heard WGN's overnight host Nick Digilio going nuts about this place last week. I haven't been in there in 25 years or so, and I remember being disappointed when I last was there. My parents used to take my brother and I there many times on our way back from paying the mortgage on Saturdays at St. Paul Federal Savings and Loan, on North Avenue in the 1960's. After moving into Chicago years later, I discovered actual aquarium smokers, and tasty ribs, tips, etc. I totally realize it isn't southern barbecue- I don't think Russel's ever had any kind of smoker. But it's a nostalgia thing, and a throwback to what our parents and grandparents generally thought of as "Bar-B-Que" from 1930 to 1970 or so. I'm wondering if it's worth a trip to taste a bit of history- even if it's not necessarily "good history".
  • Post #63 - January 12th, 2019, 3:01 pm
    Post #63 - January 12th, 2019, 3:01 pm Post #63 - January 12th, 2019, 3:01 pm
    adipocere wrote:I'm wondering if it's worth a trip to taste a bit of history- even if it's not necessarily "good history".

    Absolutely, though, you might want to pack a lunch! :lol:

    In all seriousness, I think that if you grew up with this, the nostalgia factor is enough to warrant a return visit. Who knows what kinds of memories that could stir up, and that could be fun. However, if, like me, you have no previous connection to it, I think this place -- and the love for it -- is a bit of a head-scratcher.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #64 - January 12th, 2019, 3:43 pm
    Post #64 - January 12th, 2019, 3:43 pm Post #64 - January 12th, 2019, 3:43 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    adipocere wrote:I'm wondering if it's worth a trip to taste a bit of history- even if it's not necessarily "good history".

    Absolutely, though, you might want to pack a lunch! :lol:

    In all seriousness, I think that if you grew up with this, the nostalgia factor is enough to warrant a return visit. Who knows what kinds of memories that could stir up, and that could be fun. However, if, like me, you have no previous connection to it, I think this place -- and the love for it -- is a bit of a head-scratcher.

    =R=


    Thanks Ronnie Suburban. I just checked their reviews on Yelp- it appears that perhaps Russell's may have upped their game by recently installing a genuine smoker of some kind. That would almost certainly chase away a significant percentage of the senior citizens who still frequent the place. But maybe they have moved to at least try to partly smoke some of their animal proteins, in an effort to grab younger customers- not to mention people of color, who after all represent a significant portion of the population in that part of Cook County nowadays- many of whom would otherwise pass right by. The recent Yelp reviews are decidedly mixed. Perhaps a trip to Elmwood Park is in order at some point.
  • Post #65 - January 12th, 2019, 6:03 pm
    Post #65 - January 12th, 2019, 6:03 pm Post #65 - January 12th, 2019, 6:03 pm
    Since the beginning it was always baked. Still is.

    It was good roast meat with a unique sauce.

    Several years ago they added smoked meats in addition to the baked.

    Not sure if they smoke there but it’s a nice addition to the menu.
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #66 - January 12th, 2019, 6:26 pm
    Post #66 - January 12th, 2019, 6:26 pm Post #66 - January 12th, 2019, 6:26 pm
    Russell's BBQ has been around since 1930. In 1940, Jacob and Fannie Bernstein purchased Russell's. The Bernstein's were the grand parents of my friend Joe Bernstein. As a young adult, I ate there a few times with Joe(1965-1969), but in my early days(1950-1961), my parents would take me to Russell's after a visit to Kiddie Land. In the late 70's, I worked part time at the Polk Bros warehouse in Melrose Park, a short walk to Russell's down Avenue for lunch. Back then, that was bbq, unless you went to the west or south side of Chicago. In 1980, the Bernsteins sold Russell's and it was the last time I ate there until 2006. While the building remained the same, the food wasn't what I remember from my youth. Thank goodness for memories.

    CSD
    Mark A Reitman, PhD
    Professor of Hot Dogs
    Hot Dog University/Vienna Beef
  • Post #67 - January 14th, 2019, 9:47 am
    Post #67 - January 14th, 2019, 9:47 am Post #67 - January 14th, 2019, 9:47 am
    Russell's is one of those places that just goes on and on against all odds (or to me logic). We went there from time to time when we lived in the area and always asked ourselves "why" after every trip, but yet every once in awhile the urge hit. Now that we've moved away there's no motivation since, in Michelin lingo, it "isn't worth a journey." I never cared for their sauce at all. But, yet, they do draw in a crowd.
  • Post #68 - January 14th, 2019, 10:00 am
    Post #68 - January 14th, 2019, 10:00 am Post #68 - January 14th, 2019, 10:00 am
    Hi,

    Before I learned more about BBQ by tasting community approved examples (and learning to DIY via Gary Wiviott), there was a lot more BBQ I liked. Now it is a much narrower band of what I really like and a broad swipe I don't.

    I found knowing what better BBQ can be has been a bit of a curse. Before I could be so happy with so little. Oh well!

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #69 - January 15th, 2019, 3:08 pm
    Post #69 - January 15th, 2019, 3:08 pm Post #69 - January 15th, 2019, 3:08 pm
    chicagostyledog wrote:Russell's BBQ has been around since 1930. In 1940, Jacob and Fannie Bernstein purchased Russell's. The Bernstein's were the grand parents of my friend Joe Bernstein. As a young adult, I ate there a few times with Joe(1965-1969), but in my early days(1950-1961), my parents would take me to Russell's after a visit to Kiddie Land. In the late 70's, I worked part time at the Polk Bros warehouse in Melrose Park, a short walk to Russell's down Avenue for lunch. Back then, that was bbq, unless you went to the west or south side of Chicago. In 1980, the Bernsteins sold Russell's and it was the last time I ate there until 2006. While the building remained the same, the food wasn't what I remember from my youth. Thank goodness for memories.

    CSD


    Like w/Twin Anchors and Carson's, I'm in the LTH minority of people here who likes Russel's. I'm sure I've gone before moving out to Oak Park in 2000, but mostly my memories of Russell's are since I've lived out here. Which means, post Bernstein is all I know. I admit that Russell's is not a place I need to go to that often; it's not like Johnnie's where I am really attuned to the day-to-day variations, but I will say that there have been better and worse days for the ribs.

    Anyways, my bigger point or question, is that I find it interesting that the owner was Bernstein. I'm assuming Jewish. One of the things I like or do like about Russell's is that it reminds me a fair deal like Booby's, which I grew up with, and my Mom (zl) would say that Booby's was like Sally's across the street from Friedman's on Western, Sally's. And as my sister would call him, Mr. Booby was Jewish, and Sally's, not sure the ownership, but thriving in a then very Jewish area, and Bernstein's Russell's, I'm wondering if there is a "Jewish school" of ribs in Chicago--did Wesley's have ribs or just chicken? I should add that the original location of Carson's was in Skokie, when Skokie was still very Jewish.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #70 - January 15th, 2019, 4:21 pm
    Post #70 - January 15th, 2019, 4:21 pm Post #70 - January 15th, 2019, 4:21 pm
    Wesley's had ribs. I usually had them as a combo with broasted chicken and potatoes.
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #71 - January 15th, 2019, 6:17 pm
    Post #71 - January 15th, 2019, 6:17 pm Post #71 - January 15th, 2019, 6:17 pm
    Vital Information wrote:
    chicagostyledog wrote:Russell's BBQ has been around since 1930. In 1940, Jacob and Fannie Bernstein purchased Russell's. The Bernstein's were the grand parents of my friend Joe Bernstein. As a young adult, I ate there a few times with Joe(1965-1969), but in my early days(1950-1961), my parents would take me to Russell's after a visit to Kiddie Land. In the late 70's, I worked part time at the Polk Bros warehouse in Melrose Park, a short walk to Russell's down Avenue for lunch. Back then, that was bbq, unless you went to the west or south side of Chicago. In 1980, the Bernsteins sold Russell's and it was the last time I ate there until 2006. While the building remained the same, the food wasn't what I remember from my youth. Thank goodness for memories.

    CSD


    Like w/Twin Anchors and Carson's, I'm in the LTH minority of people here who likes Russel's. I'm sure I've gone before moving out to Oak Park in 2000, but mostly my memories of Russell's are since I've lived out here. Which means, post Bernstein is all I know. I admit that Russell's is not a place I need to go to that often; it's not like Johnnie's where I am really attuned to the day-to-day variations, but I will say that there have been better and worse days for the ribs.

    Anyways, my bigger point or question, is that I find it interesting that the owner was Bernstein. I'm assuming Jewish. One of the things I like or do like about Russell's is that it reminds me a fair deal like Booby's, which I grew up with, and my Mom (zl) would say that Booby's was like Sally's across the street from Friedman's on Western, Sally's. And as my sister would call him, Mr. Booby was Jewish, and Sally's, not sure the ownership, but thriving in a then very Jewish area, and Bernstein's Russell's, I'm wondering if there is a "Jewish school" of ribs in Chicago--did Wesley's have ribs or just chicken? I should add that the original location of Carson's was in Skokie, when Skokie was still very Jewish.


    In 1971, I moved into the town houses in Niles on 8800 block of Washington, west of Dempster. Little did I realize that Booby and Sally were going to be my new neighbors in the same town house complex. I was already a customer of Booby's since they opened and was used to his sarcastic and humorous treatment. My favorite sandwich was the Big B with C on marbled rye. I never ate the ribs or chicken. I was strictly a burger man and enjoyed his salad bar with the chocolate pudding. My place for baby back ribs was The Cork on Dempster in Skokie. I loved their salad tossed with the creamy Corkette, cream of garlic dressing. As for your Jewish school of ribs question, to me it was always back ribs with a sweet sauce. Not smoky, not vinegar, but sweet. BTW, the Bernsteins and Booby and Sally were Jewish. https://www.journal-topics.com/articles ... eart-soul/

    CSD
    Mark A Reitman, PhD
    Professor of Hot Dogs
    Hot Dog University/Vienna Beef
  • Post #72 - January 15th, 2019, 9:10 pm
    Post #72 - January 15th, 2019, 9:10 pm Post #72 - January 15th, 2019, 9:10 pm
    Vital Information wrote:Anyways, my bigger point or question, is that I find it interesting that the owner was Bernstein. I'm assuming Jewish. One of the things I like or do like about Russell's is that it reminds me a fair deal like Booby's, which I grew up with, and my Mom (zl) would say that Booby's was like Sally's across the street from Friedman's on Western, Sally's. And as my sister would call him, Mr. Booby was Jewish, and Sally's, not sure the ownership, but thriving in a then very Jewish area, and Bernstein's Russell's, I'm wondering if there is a "Jewish school" of ribs in Chicago--did Wesley's have ribs or just chicken? I should add that the original location of Carson's was in Skokie, when Skokie was still very Jewish.

    The founder of Sally's was Jewish. I'm not sure about his wife Sally who it was named for. Their ribs were barbecued on an open pit in the back by an African American and then refrigerated. When ordered they were finished under a broiler.
  • Post #73 - Yesterday, 9:51 am
    Post #73 - Yesterday, 9:51 am Post #73 - Yesterday, 9:51 am
    chicagostyledog wrote:As for your Jewish school of ribs question, to me it was always back ribs with a sweet sauce. Not smoky, not vinegar, but sweet. BTW, the Bernsteins and Booby and Sally were Jewish.


    Artie wrote:The founder of Sally's was Jewish. I'm not sure about his wife Sally who it was named for. Their ribs were barbecued on an open pit in the back by an African American and then refrigerated. When ordered they were finished under a broiler.


    I do not think it was a sauce or a sweet sauce (open pit?) thing. Booby's has and had an aquarium. I'm pretty sure that it's been retrofitted to be gas, but surely at one time it was not. The Booby's style (at least way back) and Russell's is I think more akin to what Artie describes. There's some grill or grilling in there.

    Interestingly, Carson's ribs are quite distinct from that style. The Booby's/Russell's style is more naked, where Carson's is about a melding of sauce to ribs via a baking/grilling combo. I do not remember what Wesley's ribs were liked. So, I'm not quite positive if Booby's/Russell's/Sally's speaks to Jewish style or a Jewish love for ribs.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.

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