Since opening last May, Babygold Barbecue, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road., has been delighting music lovers at FitzGerald’s Nightclub with #berwynstyle smoked meats and creole influenced sides. And now, Babygold’s dedicated dining room, with a capacity of approximately 45, is poised to celebrate its grand opening with a prosecco toast this Friday.
“We are hoping to sustain the same level of business we did during patio season,” said Will Duncan, owner of Fitzgerald’s and Babygold Barbecue. “We have 60 employees, and we want them to be busy year-round. This is just another reason for people to come and hang out.”
Duncan “self-designed” the dining room to preserve the spirit of the music venue while carving out a unique identity for the restaurant. The well-appointed room boasts vintage-style chandeliers, white wainscoting, plenty of greenery and a backlit bar. Large scale black and white photographs of performances held at the venue galvanize the space. Gallery images include Howard Greenblatt’s photo of Cha Wa as well as David Kindler’s image of Lil’ Ed. Plaques honoring both the musicians and photographers give the space a micro-museum flair; photographs will rotate on a regular basis.
“Our goal was to retain some of the patio vibe we are known for,” said Duncan. “But the room has a lighter more delicate feel to serve as a nice contrast to the heavy flavors of smoked meats.”
Generously sized custom banquettes, evocative of picnic tables, beckon guests to slide in for a hearty meal and lively conversation. The fresh, modern aesthetic matches the casual approach they take to barbecue offerings including refined nightly specials and an impressive array of whiskey and bourbon — expect to find Willet, Weller and Noah’s Mill behind the bar.
“I pretty much sat down and wrote the whiskey and bourbon list from memory,” said Duncan. “My years managing Longman and Eagle gave me a nice understanding of what to look for.”
Babygold also offers a selection of American wines at varied price points including a couple of splurge worthy selections. Duncan worked with sommelier, Gene Olsen to put together a list reflective of FitzGerald’s American music roots. Expect a dry Riesling from Michigan with tropical fruit notes and a Red Zinfandel with licorice and black pepper notes to pair beautifully with barbecue flavors.
“There will always be things on the menu in the dining room that you can’t get on the patio or in the club,” said Duncan. “Our food takes on a whole different feeling in this room and we made a couple of choices to help differentiate between the club and the restaurant.”
Popular pork belly, smoked turkey and brisket are always on the menu at the service-focused, family-friendly restaurant, but plated specials like smoked duck confit over dirty couscous, smoked prime rib and salmon entrees bring a refined energy to the regular offerings. Chef John Manion continues to have a hand in operations at Babygold, but Chef Steve Domanik helms the kitchen on a daily basis. Chef Domanik, who also worked at Longman and Eagle, has passion for barbecue and a background in fine dining. He has been at Babygold since the day it opened working under Chef Manion. Domanik is now bringing his own touch to the American-style barbecue offered at FitzGerald’s.
Eager eaters should anticipate jazz and honkey tonk themed brunches to debut on Saturdays and Sundays after the new year. Duncan and Domanik are excited to put a Babygold Barbecue twist on breakfast fare.
“Will is a phenomenal owner who has brought new life to this music venue,” said Domanik. “He has real vision for this place and I know I have room to grow as a chef inside FitzGerald’s.”
Thanks to natural curiosity, foot traffic and a “fishbowl” effect, the restaurant has been enjoying a soft opening in the days leading up to the official launch. Drew Brennan, who is a deep lover of barbecue, and his children Conner, 6, and Rosey, 4, traveled from Glen Ellyn to snag a table in the dining room. They were all smiles after enjoying their meal –the happy trio sang the praises of the cheddar-jalapeno hot link, macaroni and cheese and Spilt Milk pie.
“I really liked the chicken,” said Conner Brennan confidently.
“I liked the chocolate pie,” chimed in his sister, Rosey.
“I am a big barbecue lover, said Dew Brennan. “They definitely know what they are doing here.”
Reservations are available via Babygold’s website. Customers dining in this Friday will receive a complementary glass of Prosecco to celebrate the grand opening.