Saturday's dinner service marked opening night for Lillie's Q, a concept first executed by Charlie McKenna back in 2010. Earning the title of "Best New Barbeque Restaurant In The Country" by Food & Wine Magazine in 2011, McKenna's ode to his grandmother's kitchen influence can be found next door to TAPS Fish House & Brewery. TAPS owner Joe Manzella co-owns this branch with Charlie-- making for one excellent collaboration.
An upscale venue for 'que, they are firm proponents of sourcing items domestically. Their J&R oven smokes meats with only peach wood, found roughly 80-miles away. This classic preparation imparts an ideal balance of sweet and smokiness. A Carolina rice plantation still supplies cornmeal used in their stone ground grits, a dish McKenna asks all of his team to pitch in on, "If you walk by the grits, you stir them."
Pouring only American liquor, it was a no-brainer to include TAPS brews in their lineup. In fact, Brewmaster David Huls crafted a signature ale just for Lillie's Q. Hog-Tied amber (5.3% ABV) has subtle malt character and hop bitterness. Another item created specifically for Brea: a tasty Southern Caesar salad featuring crawfish tails, pickled pink peppercorns and biscuit croutons on Lollo Rosso red leaf.
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Their selection of starters includes pimiento cheddar spread, beer batter fried pickle chips, and super crunchy pork rinds. One app that made us scratch our heads had Kosher dill pickles marinated in cherry Kool-Aid. You're either gonna love or hate 'em. Our favorite tastes were the tri-tip and smoked fried chicken, the latter served alongside a honeypot of Tupelo (harvested in the Southeast) that you can drizzle over your meat. The liquid sunshine is also used in their side of honey butter offered with orders of cornbread, baked to McKenna's sugar-free specifications.
Here's hoping Edwin adds Lillie's Q to his review rotation, because we want in-depth coverage of their porky Q and lineup of sauces. FYI: Their mayo-based Ivory used in their coleslaw is NOT ranch, and vinegar-based ENC is considered their spiciest. We are currently seeking dining companions for when they begin offering a $325 whole hog dinner. Now that's a party waiting to happen!
Lillie's Q is located at 240 S Brea Blvd in Brea, (714) 482-2001; www.lilliesq.com.