I am sort of torn about the whole Groupon thing—I mean, who doesn’t love a deal right? But sometimes Groupons and coupons in general (but particularly when you have paid for them) just make me feel guilty. I keep seeing it, knowing it is going to expire at some point, and then forgetting to use it. Maybe it’s just me. I bring this up, because I had a Groupon to Chef Mike’s Charcoal grill, had had it for about a year, and I finally got around to using it recently (about a week before the expiration date). It is a bit of a haul for me, particularly during rush hour, so we were pretty hungry by the time we got there.
Unfortunately, upon arriving, and it was one of those ridiculously hot days, we found out their air conditioning was not working. Of course, I can’t blame them for this, as it wasn’t their fault, but it made for quite a warm dinner (we sat next to the portable air conditioning unit for our dinner and the thermostat read 91 degrees). I did find it humorous that I had my daughter bring a sweater because we are both usually always cold in restaurants, but obviously, she didn’t need it this time. The staff was extremely gracious about it though and worked hard to get us the coolest spot in the place that they could.
Chef Mike’s specializes in charcoal grilled items, and I went with a burger ($9.75) and hubby the grilled chicken wings (buffalo flavor) (6 for $6.99) because we thought wings sounded interesting since they are usually deep fried. We both started with a salad, which was probably a mistake, but it was so hot, it sounded good. The lettuce was fresh, but the blue cheese dressing was clearly bottled and had that sort of fakey sweet flavor that a lot of bottled dressings have.
My burger was outstanding though—I ordered it medium rare hoping it would be a little pink (no one really seems to be willing to cook a burger medium rare) and it was. My problem with grilled burgers is usually that they are dry—this one was not. And it had a wonderful charcoal smoky flavor to it. I had ordered the bacon cheddar burger, and the cheddar was nice and melty and hot, but the bacon a little hard. They actually use a mixture of Bourbon and chives in their burgers too—hard to say exactly how they impacted the burger, but the burger was moist and tasty. I got what they called “potato skins” on the side, which are not what you think of when you think of potato skins. They were red skinned potatoes that were sliced with the skin on, and deep fried. Not as thin as a potato chip, but fairly thin. They were also delicious, and fresh. The light batter they use on the fries and skins was really light and crunchy and had a unique flavor with a little bit of seasoning and a healthy dose of salt. My kids had the fries, which were also very good—hand cut and fried in the same batter. At first I couldn’t chose which I preferred, but by the end, I think I liked the “skins” the best because they were a little crispier. Hubby preferred the fries.
Hubby’s wings were interesting. They were pretty meaty and were also charcoal-grilled, having even more of that distinctive smoky flavor—I think you could taste it even more with the wings because the meat has a more mild taste than the beef. There was just a drizzle of buffalo sauce on them, and it didn’t really add much. I would be tempted to try one of the other flavors, like the spicy garlic sauce. My skins came with my burger, but we also tried the potato salad ($2.50) just because. It was your standard potato salad (although certainly homemade) with red potatoes, egg, mayo and celery. Not bad, but not super exciting.
I also liked that kids under 6 eat free, so my son got his meal for no cost. They both liked it ok, although they were a little grumpy from the heat. The service was quite friendly, especially considering they had to work in that heat. And I was impressed with how many people came in anyway. I might have changed my mind if it weren’t such a haul, and if I didn’t have that Groupon. Oh, and on the subject of the location—just so you know in case you want to check it out, it is a little challenging to find. It is located on the west end of 71st street just inside 465—in a little strip mall behind the Holiday Inn. We drove by a couple of times before we spotted it. But you know, if it were in my neighborhood, I would certainly add it to my local, kid friendly list. The food was good, the people nice, and it is one of the only non-chains in the immediate area that I saw. I hear they also have decent lunch specials.
Chef Mike’s Charcoal Grill
7102 Woodland Drive