Chicago: Au Cheval

By | August 2, 2014 at 8:38 am | No comments | On The Road | Tags: , ,

Bon Appetite votes Au Cheval’s burger as the best in the country which was enough for our hungry brood. Located in Chicago’s West Loop, this dark brasserie with plush, overstuffed leather banquettes, subway tiles, and bar stools was reminiscent of a soda shop in the 50’s, but grown up, deconstructed and a bit heavier.

We arrived at 11:00 and settled into our booth. By 11:10, the restaurant was full, and a wait list had been comprised. Knowing we’d order burgers, except for the one poor non-beef eating soul at my table, the sides and fixings had us enthralled.

Now any place that serves foie gras and eggs has my vote. But, we settled on crispy French fries with Mornay sauce, garlic aioli, and a fried egg. The fries were crisp on the out, tender in and a perfect conduit for the rich sauce and runny egg. The garlic mayo cut some of the rich, who knew? Upon serving, each guest expressed guilt in their health choices; however those vultures dug in before we could get a pic.

Au Cheval Bacon

My non-angus loving dining partner went with a Croque Monsieur- deconstructed. Imagine the Mornay, thick smoked ham and Gruyere cheese broiled to a crisp and then spreading the goodness on thick brioche. While the dish wasn’t my choice, it was a great reminder that while restaurants may be known for a particular dish, other offerings may be equally as delicious.

Au Cheval

Now to the burgers… AMAZING.

And here’s why. Please refer back to the top. When you think of an all American burger, it’s classic, simple, and unpretentious. Upon its invention, the ratio of fat to meat probably wasn’t considered. Short rib vs chuck wasn’t discussed. It was prime beef, on a griddle, medium rare and we were done.

Each “single” burger is actually comprised of two, 4oz patties, cheddar cheese, and Dijonnaise, and bread and butter pickles, house brined. The bun is toasted and somehow light enough to be a supporting cast mate, but hearty enough to collect all the flavorful debris of the burger. The “double “equates to 3 patties. Don’t do the math. We aren’t here to do math.

Au Cheval Chicago Burger

Now, I had the single. It was perfect. It was like Winsted’s meets the show Happy Days, meets a cloth napkin. Each sense was addressed…thru a burger. My other dining partner also enjoyed a single, with bacon and a fried egg. He has no conscious. But, either did the table, as we also ordered a side of bacon. House/neighborhood cured; maple syrup and pepper glazed and a centimeter thick. Placed on our burgers or by knife and fork, we were pleased.

Au Cheval

Leaving the restaurant, we reflect how satisfying something so simple could be. The rest of our dining weekend was to be comprised with tasting courses and pairings, but our lunch left us content and somewhat nostalgic. This is what dining should be, this is where we came from and steadily we as a food community are home coming.

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