I’ll admit it: I’ve been there before.
As a former resident of Logan Square, there would be many weekends where I’d be out with a group of friends, hopping from bar to bar on Milwaukee Avenue, and end up looking for some food. But, the kitchen at Revolution Brewing closed early, and the Boiler Room’s pizzas were a 30-minute line away. The solution? Some pretty bad tacos…every weekend.
Fortunately, Logan Square residents and Milwaukee bar crawlers now have Q-Tine, a unique fast food restaurant at 2339 N. Milwaukee Avenue specializing in Montreal poutine and Memphis barbecue that’s open as late at 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Montreal to Chicago via Hawaii: a Poutine Journey
Recently I got the chance to try out Q-Tine and was met by founding partner Harvey Gladman. Up until a few years ago, the Montreal native and former semi-pro hockey player was a Hawaiian resident. Working in advertising with a specialty in elevator ads, Gladman arrived in Chicago hoping to do the same.
Finding the advertising climate a bit chillier (pun intended), Gladman turned to his passion for poutine creating an initial concept and the idea of bringing poutine to college campuses. Originating in Quebec, the 1-2-3-punch of gravy, cheese curds, and French fries can be found nearly everywhere in Canada. It’s so popular even American fast food chains, like McDonald’s, sell poutine in Canada.
Here in Chicago, and the rest of the United States, poutine has been growing in popularity. While it hasn’t overtaken the hot dog or a slice of deep dish, Chicagoans have come to appreciate poutine so much that there’s a yearly Poutine Fest.
To supplement the growing popularity of poutine, Gladman’s partner Thomas Morton, a BBQ chef with more two decades of experience, brought in his passion for Memphis-style barbecue and a huge smoker that sits in the back of the restaurant. With third musketeer Ron DiNella (Morton’s Steakhouse, Cheesie’s, and many more) as a partner, Q-Tine was born. While expansion to college towns is still part of the plan, the bar-heavy scene in Logan Square made for a perfect place to open a hip fast food restaurant.
As a writer for The Chicago Traveler, covering restaurants across the city, it can be easy to get a sense of déjà vu seeing wall after wall of exposed brick. That’s never going to happen when you walk in and order your food from an airstream trailer. Created with the help of Flux Design, Q-Tine serves street food in a setting that makes you feel like you’re ordering from a retro-futuristic food truck. The airstream motif is carried over to the metallic table tops and counters.
Meanwhile, the two walls provide a nice contrast with each other. A handsome brick wall is painted with “Memphis Meets Montreal” to display the restaurant’s theme while the other with its look of layers of faded paint and stripped-off posters gives you the feeling you’re walking along a city street. It’s a casual restaurant, sure, but with a distinct, personalized look you won’t forget.
Keep the Party Going With Craft Beer and Cocktail Slushies
One of the things I love about Chicago is you can get a quick bite to eat and still have a beer. Q-Tine has a diverse selection of bottled craft beers from local brewers, and they also have rotating alcoholic slushies. While I was there, I tried a thick, frozen Moscow Mule dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day that had the same refreshing flavor you’d get at any cocktail bar—just much, much colder.
If you’re not out on the town or want a drink after work, or coming early with the family, Q-Tine also carries craft sodas. As an adult who still enjoys a fizzy drink or two, it’s always a pleasure to come across a restaurant that carries sodas with real sugar, and not high-fructose corn syrup– and fun flavors.
A Happy Union of Poutine and Barbecue
The Q-Tine kitchen serves up Memphis-style smoked BBQ sandwiches, Montreal poutine, and a mix of the two. For instance, you can order a Smoked Cornbeef sandwiched dubbed the Montreal Meat or poutine topped with pulled pork or chopped beef brisket. To try the best of both worlds, I ordered the Three Pigs: a godly dish of poutine topped with pulled pork, pork belly, and bacon.
It all starts with crisp Kennebec fries that are fried just enough to soak up the house-made gravy without getting limp or taking away from the hearty potato taste. Fries and gravy are topped with Wisconsin cheese curds heated to melt in your mouth. Now for the pork: tender, juicy pork belly and crisp bacon merge with perfectly smoked pulled pork for a nearly unholy trinity of meaty greatness. Both the poutine and the barbecue are equally great, nothing’s a gimmick here.
If pork’s not your thing, the chopped beef brisket poutine was just as delicious, and they have vegetarian options as well. Poutines range from $7.50 for the Classic Poutine to $15.99 for the orgy of meat that is the Montreal Meets Memphis (with a little bit of everything). Portions are quite big, and you can easily share unless you’re really hungry.
Maybe poutine isn’t your thing—who are you, though?—or you’re not feeling the heaviness of barbecue that day. Then I’d suggest trying out the jumbo corn dog made with Angus beef and homemade corn bread. The cornbread here is perfectly crispy on the outside, but soft, warm, and comforting once you bite in with just a little bit of saltiness. I’m not really a corndog guy, yet this was really tasty.
Logan Square has developed a reputation for fun and unique restaurants, bars, and shops– Q-Tine is a great example of that. By joining together a Canadian staple with southern BBQ, and a little bit of Midwestern flavor, Q-Tine offers tasty fast food in a way you won’t find anywhere else in the city and that’s perfectly suited for its location. Whether you’re looking for a quick and tasty bite after work or to fill your belly at the end of a night on the town, you need to try Q-Tine.
2339 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647