Au Cheval is not somewhere that I would think of going, based on the name alone. “Au Cheval” just sounds too fancy for me, and the pictures and menu on the website weren’t helping their case either. Most of the things on the menu I would probably never even try, but I was told that I had to try the cheeseburger before I passed judgement… and I’m glad I did.
Lunch at the office normally consists of walking 2 doors down to Flo, which is an amazing little restaurant in the Noble Square/West Town area. And I have absolutely nothing against Flo, we go there on average 3 times a week, but sometimes it’s nice to change things up a bit. Last week Iman had asked me if I’d ever been to Au Cheval, which is a weird question because he knows me and should have just assumed that I hadn’t. When I told him that I hadn’t, he obviously wasn’t surprised, but he was insistent that we head over there for lunch one day this week; and that day was yesterday.
When we walked in to Au Cheval I was actually surprised that it wasn’t as fancy as I had assumed, based on the website photos. It’s more like an upscale diner-looking restaurant. I wouldn’t describe it as hipster, but it has that old timey-ish feel, if that makes any sense. But that old timey feel ends when you get seated and realize that the music playing overhead is a variety of hip-hop ranging from Ice Cube to Wu Tang Clan… I was right at home.
Thankfully we went to lunch a little later yesterday and things were clearing out as we walked in. We got 2 seats at the counter which was actually really cool cause you got to see everything that went in to making this delicious food. I’ve watched too many of those bar/restaurant rescue shows, so I appreciate when I can see how clean the cooking area actually is, and it’s hard to have a dirty kitchen when it’s in direct sight of all of the customers.
The service was a little on the slow side towards the end of the meal, but who cares about that, let’s talk about the food. Iman and I both got cheeseburgers, since that’s apparently what this place is known for. I got a single, which is actually 2 burger patties, and Iman got the double, which is 3 patties… interesting. Iman also suggested that if I like bacon, I had the bacon, so I did. Little did I know that the bacon itself is just as thick as one of the beef patties, and almost half as much as the burger itself! Ok, maybe not that much, but the bacon was about 1/4″ thick, which is awesome, but it was an extra $3.50, not so awesome. The burger itself though, was amazing. Iman might be right, this might be one of the best burgers in the city. I don’t really eat a ton of burgers, but I eat enough of them, and this is definitely up there near the top, if not at the top. This even tops the breakfast burger I had at Bad Apple a couple weeks ago. My only complaint is that I wish they mentioned there would be pickles and some sort of white sauce on top of it. It wasn’t a huge deal as I just scraped it off, but I would have liked a slightly less tainted burger.
I’m definitely glad that Iman dragged me over to this place and I can’t wait to go back and try the Fried Bologna Sandwich… mmm, sounds amazing. When we do eventually go back, and I do get a burger again, I would probably forego the bacon and just rock the plain single cheeseburger. The meat itself was just that good that, as much as I love bacon, I had to pull some of it off the burger at the end just so I could enjoy the flavor of the meat. So if you’re looking for an amazing burger in Chicago, I highly suggest checking out Au Cheval. If you go during the lunch hours (and probably dinner hours), be prepared to wait for a table. We went at 1PM and it was still crowded, but starting to clear out. There’s a reason this place is always packed… it’s delicious.