Lem's Catastrophe/Army and Lou's to the Rescue
- Seth Zurer
Spurred by the recent barbecue discussion, and on my way down south for an evening at the Checkerboard, I went last night to Lem's to satisfy my cravings. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that Lem's has burned down. The building is still there, but completely shut up, with signs that read, "Closed due to Fire, Will reopen soon". A great loss. Here's hoping that they are able to get up and running soon, and that the newly constructed pit won't change the quality of the barbecue.
The night was not a total loss. Dejected, we went to Army and Lou's instead, a soul food joint a block further east on 75th St. While not everything on the menu is brilliant, they do an incredible fried catfish (fillets or steaks). The crust is very crisp, impeccable fried, and the fish is just cooked, with no tough spots, or uncomfortably slimy spots. My friend had a pork chop, one smothered, one fried, which were good, but not exquisite. I've had the short ribs there before, and been a little disappointed. And the sides were not great--my spinach was OK, and the navy bean ham soup was fine, but the cornbread stuffing left a lot to be desired. Anyone else know about other superlative items on Army and Lou's menu?
Have only been to 59th and state (5914 S State St)- quality is best in the city IMHO I don't know about the 79th st location but the 59th one has had to have been around forever judging from the old-style sign out front. a couple of stools to sit in the smoke if you want to eat there and a take-out counter.
speaking of BBQ, was in KC this weekend and had lamb ribs at Fiorellos jack stack, man were the tasty - I wonder why more places don't offer lamb bbq, the high fat content smoked for a while makes for some melt in your mouth goodness. I couldn't say much for their sauce or their burnt ends but I'd definietely go back for the lamb.
Huh...how do you like that. The two lem's are the same proprietor (i've seen him toiling over the wood stove, and have a polaroid of myself embracing him in tears of gratitude). If the 59th st location is significantly better than the 75th st, then chicago may have the best barbecue in the world, becasue the quality down there is phenomenal.
I agree on the lamb front. I had some incredible lamb ribs outside of San Antonio at Bob's Smokehouse, that knocked my socks off.
Army and Lou's is also fairly well known for the standard southern fried chicken, and (if you do not mind a little more excess) the smothered fried chicken. You also might try the smoked turkey drumstick (with or without the greens). Finally, the desserts on weekends are pretty good: the berry cobblers are really well prepared. (Not too sweet, as one sometimes finds in the peach cobbler).