Since opening last May, Babygold Barbecue, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road., Has delighted music lovers at FitzGerald’s Nightclub with #berwynstyle smoked meats and Creole-influenced sides. And now, Babygold’s signature dining room, with a capacity of approximately 45 people, is ready to celebrate its grand opening with a Prosecco toast this Friday.
“We hope to maintain the same level of business that we did during the patio season,” said Will Duncan, owner of Fitzgerald’s and Babygold Barbecue. “We have 60 employees and we want them to be busy all year round. This is just another reason for people to come hang out. “
Duncan “designed” the dining room himself to preserve the spirit of the music venue while creating a unique identity for the restaurant. The well-appointed room features vintage-style chandeliers, white paneling, lots of greenery, and a backlit bar. Large-scale black-and-white photographs of on-site performances 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 musicians and photographers give the space a micro-museum style; photos will rotate regularly.
“Our goal was to preserve some of the backyard environment that we are known for,” Duncan said. “But the room has a lighter, more delicate feel that serves as a nice contrast to the rich flavors of smoked meats.”
Generously sized custom stools, reminiscent of picnic tables, invite guests to drop by for a hearty meal and lively conversation. The fresh, modern aesthetic matches their casual approach to barbecue offerings, which include fine nightly specials and an impressive range 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,” Duncan said. “My years managing Longman and Eagle gave me a good understanding of what to look for.”
Babygold also offers a selection of American wines at varied prices including a couple of splurge-worthy selections. Duncan worked with sommelier Gene Olsen to put together a list that reflected FitzGerald’s American music roots. Expect a dry Michigan Riesling with hints of tropical fruits and a red Zinfandel with hints of licorice and black pepper to pair perfectly with barbecue flavors.
“There will always be things on the dining room menu that you can’t get on the patio or at the club,” Duncan said. “Our food takes on a completely different feel in this room and we made a couple of decisions to help differentiate between the club and the restaurant.”
The popular pork belly, smoked turkey and brisket are always on the family restaurant’s menu and focused on service, but specialty dishes like confit smoked duck on dirty couscous, smoked ribs and salmon entrees bring a refined energy to the usual offerings. Chef John Manion continues to be involved in Babygold operations, but Chef Steve Domanik runs the kitchen on a daily basis. Chef Domanik, who also worked at Longman and Eagle, has a 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 twist to the American-style barbecue offered at FitzGerald’s.
Eager diners should look forward to the jazz and honkey tonk-themed brunches debuting on Saturdays and Sundays after the New Year. Duncan and Domanik are excited to add a Babygold Barbecue twist to the breakfast fare.
“Will is a phenomenal owner who has brought new life to this music venue,” said Domanik. “He has a real vision for this place and I know I have room to grow as a chef within FitzGerald’s.”
Thanks to natural curiosity, foot traffic and the “fishbowl” effect, the restaurant enjoyed a smooth opening in the days leading up to the official launch. Drew Brennan, who is a huge barbecue lover, and his children Conner, 6, and Rosey, 4, traveled from Glen Ellyn to get a table in the dining room. They were all smiles after enjoying their meal – the happy trio sang the praises of the cheddar-jalapeño hot link, mac and cheese, and spilled milk cake.
“I really liked the chicken,” Conner Brennan said confidently.
“I liked the chocolate cake,” interjected her sister, Rosey.
“I’m a huge barbecue lover,” said Dew Brennan. “They definitely know what they are doing here.”
Reservations are available through the Babygold website. Customers dining this Friday will receive a complimentary glass of Prosecco to celebrate the grand opening.