So I’m going on my fourth year here in Chicago. And ever since I moved here, I’ve heard over and over again, “You have to go to Au Cheval. They have the best burger in town.” So you’d think – being the foodie that I am – I would have gone 200 times by now. But it seems every time I made plans to go, they somehow fell through and I was left hungry and heartbroken. Not a good combo.
But wait, this story has a happy ending. I made it to Au Cheval. Cue sigh of relief. Yes, it took me three and a half years, but that’s not the point. I made it.
And I enjoyed every finger-licking last minute of it.
Okay let’s start with the downsides first, just to get them out of the way. Being that it is a super well-known dining destination in Chicago, there is always a wait. Alright, that’s it for the cons. Glad we got that over with.
Let’s talk décor. It’s dark. But that gives it an almost speakeasy-esque vibe to it. Like you’re in a VIP club that’s invite only. Which, by the time you get a table, you might actually feel that way.
Jokes aside, it’s well worth the wait.
The restaurant is oblong with a handful of booths against the wall and tables near the back. Across from the booths is a diner-style bar. The majority of the interior is black, minus the exposed brick by the windows. Simple bulbs hang from the ceiling to slightly light your table. The ambiance is simple, yet sultry.
Alright, enough about the looks. On to the eats.
Did I mention the air smells like butter when you walk in? Well it does. If Au Cheval had a catchphrase, “gluttonous” would be a good fit.
I pined over the menu for a good 15 minutes when I sat down. Of course I had already looked it over online a million times, but I had to reassess the situation once there. My friends and I were looking for something to start with. I had read a lot about the roasted marrow bones, and I saw a couple of orders float by that looked divine. I had also heard great things about the foie gras terrine. Remember that time I mentioned gluttony? See where I was going?
But after careful consideration, we decided to go with General Jane’s honey-fried chicken. What led to that decision you might ask? Well, besides the fact that it sounded insanely delicious, we knew we wanted to relax on the richness of our starter since we’d soon be indulging in our much-anticipated burgers.
Luckily I read up before we went, and I knew going in that the single cheeseburger at Au Cheval is actually a double. Which leaves me wondering, is the double actually a quadruple? I guess I’ll have to return to investigate.
When you order your burger you have the option of adding a fried egg and bacon. I said yes, and yes. The egg is cooked perfectly so that the yolk breaks when you bite into your burger. But let’s talk about this bacon. It’s about half an inch thick. Okay, it’s not that thick, but it is about three times the thickness of your average bacon. While delicious, I actually preferred the burger without the bacon. Sacrilege, I know. But I felt that the bacon was almost like another patty on the sandwich, and it took away from the main star – the burger.
Anyways, back to the goodness. Egg, bacon or not - it’s all layered on top of two deliciously seasoned, perfectly cooked beef patties that are cloaked in melted cheese. Aka paradise in your mouth.
Wash it all down with a beer or “strong drink” as Au Cheval refers to its charming cocktails. From staples like the Old Fashioned to more original drinks like the Strange Brew – gin, pineapple, lemon and IPA – you can’t really go wrong. Cheers, y’all.