The spacious and festive new place on Higgins near Barrington Road is busy smoking meats 12 to 16 hours each day satisfying barbecue fans but, wait! There’s more. The recently opened Sweet Caroline’s Crab ‘n’ Cue also serves inventive hand crafted cocktails as well as market fresh seafood. If you’re craving crab as tasty as Gibson’s (minus the parking woes and steep tab) a stop to this busy intersection in Hoffman Estates is worth your time.
Owner Mark Hoffman warns that the seasonal, made fresh daily food may run out – it’s that popular just a month or two into the restaurant’s debut. Go ahead and make a meal out of some perfected executed appetizers such as: fried oysters (as good as those coming from the kitchens in New Orleans); spicy grilled jerk shrimp; greaseless and tender fried calamari. You’re sure to watch waitstaff serve platters of barbecue pork nachos (enough to serve a family) and smoked chicken wings. Sweet Caroline’s cornbread is made every two hours and served with maple butter. It’s moist, not crumbly, and will appeal to even non-cornbread loving diners.
Sweet Caroline’s in intentionally closed for lunch because all the culinary effort goes into dinner service. Spice fans will appreciate the perky Louisiana Hot and Spicy Shrimp; Alaskan Snow Crab Legs (only the largest Opilio snow crab clusters); Wild Alaskan Rad King Crab Legs; a ginormous bowl of steamed mussels offered lolling in either garlic butter and white wine or a Cajun concoction of broth and spicy Andouille sausage.
If you’re attracted to brisket in a nearly wanton way, Caroline’s will hit your sweet spot. The beef brisket is slow smoked for 14 hours and sliced to order – it’s tender and some of the best you’ll bite into this side of the Mason Dixon line. Another winner is the hand pulled pork shoulder as well as darn good and satisfying baby back ribs. The menu also offers various combinations of seafood and barbecue, renditions of filet and smoked barbecue chicken. Sandwiches include the expected pulled pork and brisket but also wonderful versions of po-boys, lobster roll and a hefty burger.
Any ‘cue place worth its reputation lists great sides and Sweet Caroline’s does not disappoint with creamed succotash, bbq beans, rich mac ‘n’ cheese; crisp cole slaw, Louisiana brown rice and chunky chili. Try one of the hand-crafted cocktails that pair well with either seafood or barbecue; a decent list of craft beer; and by all means, get there for Happy Hour to save serious dough on drinks and eats like pork or burger sliders, smoked chicken wings and crab & shrimp artichoke dip.
Fresh crab, slowly smoked ‘cue, reasonable prices and live entertainment Thursday through Saturday nights equal a satisfying night out at Sweet Caroline’s.