Hubby and I got to take a little road trip to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. The first day we were there, we weren’t exactly sure where to eat lunch because we had a lot of meals planned and didn’t want to repeat any of the same type of cuisine. After consulting with you guys on twitter, I was inspired to try Au Cheval (thanks @rachelrubes). I have always heard good things, but had never gotten around to trying it. It’s on that strip of Randolph Street with so many great places to eat nearby.
|snack next door|
It’s one of those no-reservation places, but since we had a late reservation that night, we were fine with waiting the 45 minutes or so we had to wait to get a table. Also, we just walked down the street a bit and had a margarita and some chips and salsas at Hello Tacos. With the time change, we were a little hungry, so this was the perfect compromise. Their house fresh-squeezed margarita was crisp and delicious. And we got a basket of chip with the tomatillo lime salsa and pico de gallo. Both were really tasty (they have 7 different salsa choices). Easy way to kill the time, take a little edge off our hunger and enjoy their outside seating.
Au Cheval texted us right when they said they would and we were seated. From everything I read, it is imperative to try the cheeseburger there. We were ordering off of the brunch menu since it was Saturday, but luckily they had the burger ($11.95) on there as well. (Protip: a single is a double here and a double is a triple.) Ours was a “single” and we split it between us. It’s truthfully probably one of the best fat burgers I can remember. (Apparently Bon Appetit agrees, as they named it American’s best burger shortly after the restaurant opened.) It’s very tender beef, not over packed, cooked pleasantly medium, and each patty is topped with American cheese. The thing that pushes it to amazing for me (outside of all the great ingredients) is the sauce they put on top—it’s a Dijonaise sauce with Dijon and mayo, but also lemon and a bunch of super thin sliced housemade pickles. They were so thin and kind of mixed in with the sauce making just the perfect acidic hit with the lemon and mayo. There are also some chopped up red onions making for a nice little crunch. Their buns are also made locally and toasted before they’re topped so they stay together a bit better, even with all that stuff on it. Seriously, you should go try this burger.
We also shared an order of the fries with mornay sauce, garlic aioli and a sunny side up egg (another of their classic dishes apparently) ($9.95). First of all, their fries are just perfect. Super crisp, and with a depth of flavor on their own that makes them stand out (like they were fried in duck fat or something). But then they put just a little of the mornay sauce on top and the egg. They give you a side of the mornay sauce as well as garlic aioli. Honestly, I don’t know which was better. The mornay is thick and so cheesy tasting—it’s like a fancy cheese dip made with white cheeses. (Gruyere maybe?). Wow. But honestly, it was a good choice to also serve the aioli because you could almost overdose on the cheese sauce a bit—it’s just so rich. The aioli gives you a sharp garlic taste and tanginess from the mayo. It’s perfect to go back and forth (or hell, mix them together). And of course, you can only make everything just a little better with a bite of fried egg with it. I did notice that a lot of people just got a side of fries with the aioli, which would be a good, less filling way to go, but the first time at least, you gotta try the whole shebang. (You will also notice that probably 80% of the restaurant is ordering the burger, even though there are lots of other great sounding items on the menu).
I would also love to try some of those other things, and it I lived near, I would. As it is though, I would have a really hard to time not getting a burger. It’s perfection. I do think hubby and I could share one again and then get a second item and just get the side of fries.
It’s a loud place and constantly busy, so don’t expect a quiet romantic meal, but it makes a great lunch. Service is maybe a little brusque, but based on how busy they are, I can understand that. It was certainly efficient though. It’s a cool place, quite dark with a pretty wood bar and several booths as well as more traditional tables. It’s a place we will certainly return.
800 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607