NORTH CENTER — North Center's newest barbecue joint, Ravenswood Q, received a chilly reception on its first day of operation Monday — holding its grand opening in the midst of a polar vortex.
"It's been slow today," said Angelika Grozdic, daughter of Ravenswood Q's owner Dean Grozdic. "It's a little tough when the media says, 'Stay in, stay in.' "
With signs in the window promising a Jan. 6 opening, the decision was made to stick to that plan.
"We're ready," she said.
At midafternoon Monday, the restaurant, which has seating for nearly 50, was empty, save for a skeleton crew that included Grozdic, who's handling marketing chores for the eatery, and her brother Alex, Ravenwood Q's business manager.
"We've had some phone calls and some Internet traffic," she said. "People might come in for dinner."
The lack of diners scarcely dampened the spirits of chef Greg Roffe, most recently of The National in Wrigleyville, who kept busy perfecting his recipes for brisket, pulled pork and ribs. The menu also features grilled salmon, a smoked portabella sandwich and burgers.
"Good barbecue is really lacking around here," said Roffe, who described his approach as a "light smoke."
"I am not a fan of Chicago barbecue that smokes stuff for hours and hours," he said. "You're going to get a dry brisket."
Patrons of Ravenswood Q should expect a "nice smoke ring," with hickory and cherry notes complementing, as opposed to overwhelming the flavors of the meat, the chef said.
Each dish has its own unique "taste profile," said Roffe. The various rib offerings, for example, are all made with different rubs. Servers have been trained to recommend which of the restaurant's three sauces will best match any given meat.
Ravenswood Q — occupying a storefront at 1800 W. Irving Park Road that was vacated by Cafe 28 last February — is BYOB while it awaits its liquor license. Once the license is obtained, the intention is to offer craft beers by the bottle, with standbys like Stella Artois and Guinness on tap.
Grozdic still is expecting the arrival of big-screen televisions, which will be used in the main dining area, though it "won't be like a sports bar," she was quick to add.
She hopes to bring in live music and other special events, part of Ravenswood Q's bid to differentiate itself as as more sophisticated barbecue experience, she said.
"We're a little step up from casual, cafeteria Southern-style," she said.
For those venturing out in "Chiberia" this week — Ravenswood Q is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. — Grozdic promises plenty of comfort food.
"We've got chicken noodle soup," she said. "And the smokers are smoking."