Posts Tagged ‘burger’

 

Shake Shack at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel on Michigan Avenue near Millenium Park in the Loop was a Godsend on my recent visit back to Chicago. I had flown in to O Hare and made my way down the Blue Line to my hotel at the Club Quarters over on West Adams Street by about 9pm and I was in dire need of some food. It was getting late and a quick search on Yelp was showing me that places were closing fast downtown.

It was pretty cold out there, well below freezing, somewhere around 20F and I didn’t want to waste a meal, so when I saw that there was a Shake Shack that I had not been too nearby that was open until 11pm? well I had my hat, scarf, and gloves on and I was out the door to MyFoodHunt it down.

It was a bit hidden behind the doors keeping the cold out from the hotel, but inside it was a pretty impressive location that they describe pretty well on the Shake Shack website as;

“Knockout! The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the gorgeously, painstakingly restored Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel across from Millenium Park. Where else can you chow down on burgers and crinkle cuts surrounded by stained glass, soaring ceilings, detailed millwork, and marble staircases?”

Lets move on and talk about some food though!

The Smoke Shack with Cheese Fries

I always seem to order the same thing at Shake Shack (well I have only been twice) and that was the Smoke Shack burger with a side of Cheese Fries.

This time I went for the Double, so I had the “Cheeseburger with all-natural smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry pepper and Shack Sauce” for $9.69.

Those crinkle cut cheese fries were another $3.99, and add to that the beer I ordered and there was not much change out of a twenty dollar bill! OMG! was it or is it worth that cash outlay?

I kind of think that it is.

Smoke Shack burger

There is something kind of magnificent about this somewhat overpriced burger sandwich. The meat patty on it’s own is pretty rustic, crumbly, moist, juicy and really quite chowable. Covered in molten cheese it takes on a whole new personality and becomes something that you kind of struggle not to gobble down like a mad man on a competitive burger eating mission.

That crispy thick sliced bacon is a demon addition, and the spicy cubed tomato relish packed with heat is just more genius added to the bun, you have to pause and breathe in between bites otherwise the moment passes to quickly and you could find that you have scoffed a classic meal without pause for thought. Please be restrained 🙂

I loved this burger just as much as the last time I ate ‘exactly the same meal’ when I was last in Chicago over at the River North location (read more here) and I felt no guilt that I had chosen to do so once again, as I knew in my heart that it was a great decision on both occasions. Lets be honest, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Menu (well a bit of it)

CAA Shack in Daylight

The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel

is located across from Millenium Park at 12 S Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL 60603

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monks Pub Chicago

Monks Pub in Chicago established in 1969 is as old as myself and that was reason enough to head over to the Loop to seek it out for a pint and a bit of food. The other reason being to meet up with an old friend who was working downtown and was recommending the place.

I was told that it had some of the best burgers in town, now that has to be a challenge in itself and certainly something worth checking out. The burger itself is described on their menu as a “Half-pound certified Angus beef patty flame-broiled & served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato & onion”. I love an Angus beef burger and I also love a brioche buns so this was all sounding really good straight away.

Apparently one of the burgers to eat here is ‘The Chili Beer Cheeseburger’ but there were so many other great sounding toppings listed that I really wanted to try, what should I choose? The Maple Bacon Brisket was a front runner for a while the combination of “Certified Angus and brisket blend patty, pretzel bun, Vermont maple syrup, cheddar cheese, bacon, and grilled onion” was really tempting me. Another burger combination that stood a chance of making it all the way to my plate was The Bison which was described as a “Ground bison patty, pretzel bun, cheddar cheese, whiskey charred onions, and garlic mayo”

I was floundering as I read down the burger section of the menu!

“What is a hungry man to do?”, “Too much choice!”

Then it hit me smack bang in the face when I saw that they have a  burger topped with a fried egg. “Oh yes, come to papa!”

The Egg

The Egg Burger at Monks

There are no surprised for guessing the prime component of ‘The Egg’! This is essentially a burger topped with ‘Bacon, cheddar cheese & a sunny-side up egg’. It cod have been called the bacon, cheese, and egg burger, but I have to a say that apart from the excellent meat pattie, the star of the show is that soft yolked fried egg that drapes itself over the top of the burger and that once bitten into released it’s yellow delight over the whole beast. I love a fried egg on a burger, a love affair that started many moons ago when I first met this combination at Meatheads out in the burbs. It has been an ongoing somewhat guilty pleasure ever since.

The Egg Burger on the plate at Monks

As well as that egg you were treated with a bountiful handful of crispy smoked bacon strips and a big slice of cheddar cheese. I like the way that they present the burger here at Monks by serving it as an open faced sandwich. This way you can keep as much of the simple green salad, red onion, and sliced tomato as you care to chomp on. For my part I was just keeping about half of the lettuce as I really wanted to get a much of that bacon, cheese, and egg in your mouth which each bite of the burger.

This is a really good combination, hold on when I said good I meant exceptional combination. I fear that if I come back to dine here at Monks I will never actually get to try any of the other burger combinations as my heart will have been given to this one… Perhaps? perhaps? perhaps?

Monks pub is located at 205 West Lake Street, kind of on the corner of Lake and Wells. It is alongside the track of the elevated railway which rattles by overhead and the nearest stops are probably at Washington and Wells, or at Clark and Lake. It is close enough to see the train but a 5 minute walk to catch one. To be honest after eating on of the burgers, you will probably need that walk!

Monk's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shake Shack in Chicago

Shake Shack in River North has been on my radar for ages, I really meant to come here on my last visit back to Chicago, but somehow I was distracted and didn’t make it. This time though it was to be my first meal off the plane, and as it was pretty close to my bed for the week at Hotel Felix, I was able to tick it off the list pretty quickly (within 30 mins after dropping my bags at reception to be exact).

This particular Shake Shack joint at Ohio & Rush opened in November 2014, and is one of two locations in the city area of Chicago, the second Shake Shack to open is on Michigan Avenue on the ground floor of the renovated historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at 12 S. Michigan just across from Millennium Park. That will have to wait for my next visit. I cant overdo these things.

SmokeShack on the Menu

 

smokeshack

Even before I walked in the door I knew that there was only one thing I wanted, and that was a bacon cheeseburger, so that meant that there was just one thing on the menu for me; the ‘SmokeShack’. This was described as a “Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce” . I didn’t know what the cherry pepper was going to bring to the bun, and as I had never been to ShackShack before so didn’t know what their sauce was like. I did know that I like cheese, and I love smoked bacon, so I kind of figured I had made a sound choice.

SmokeShack Burger at Shake Shack with Cheese Fries

Shack Shack Burgers

I was really happy to be sitting in Shake Shack in River North finally dining on Danny Meyer’s concept burger. The burger was really good, a well made and well seasoned patty inside a nice soft fluffy bun, a potato bun I would have said. I loved the crispy smoked bacon, and the tangy melted cheese that combined with the spiciness of the cherry pepper. It was all making my mouth drool and my taste buds tingle at the same time. I was ‘loving’ it. There is something else though in this bun that really makes this a great burger and a little unique, and that is the sauce. I am not sure what is in the sauce, but it seems to be that it is something along the lines of mayo, mustard, ketchup and some element of pickle. Whatever it is, I liked it and would not mind having a jar or squeezy bottle filled with it at home

I had also ordered myself a portion of the ‘cheese fries’ which turned out to be a stack of crinkle cut fries topped with “our special blend of cheddar and American Cheese sauce”. They are kind of great as you start to work your way through them, but after a while I found them to be a bit too rich and I struggled to eat them all. That could have been the impending jet lag though and the fact that my body clock thought it was 4am.

All in all it was a pretty good introduction to the world of Shake Shack burger and one that I would be keen to try again. ‘If only there were not so many other meals and burgers to try out?’ As I mentioned at the top there is another location in Chicago to try over on Michigan Avenue, and now I find out that there is also another location, a third location in the Chicago area which is located at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie. Perhaps I will head over there on my next trip home, that will be a good excuse to ride the Skokie Swift, the yellow line on the El.

To add to that in the ShakeShack world, next time I am in NYC I will try another one from the home of the original in Madison Square Park.

I have no idea why I did not in the three years I was living just outside that city? My bad (as they say, these days)

This particular Shake Shack is located at 66 E. Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611

You can check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Did I mention that they also have Beer?

Shack Meister AleMy Shakemeister Ale

The ‘Shackmeister Ale’ is apparently brewed ‘exclusively’ for ShakeShack by Brooklyn Brewery. Well I wanted a beer, So I thought ‘when in Rome’ and ordered a pint or rather a 16oz on draught as they call it in this part of the world. They say on their website that “We brew Shackmeister Ale as a hearty pale ale with plenty of malts to match the rich, griddled beef in every Shackburger. A bright burst of hops unifies the finish and invites the drinker to take another bite and accompanying sip” #Awesome and true

M Burger Sign in Chicago

M Burger in Chicago is a simple yet effective local burger chain with Five joints scattered around the city. The first one opened only 5 years ago in 2010 and over the few years that I lived in Chicago I think I have eaten in them all. It was only recently though now on one of my trips back since I moved away that I thought to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard to add it to the blog.

If you want a little taste of the history of how it came to be, there is a pretty interesting article on BurgerBusiness.com called ‘The Tru story of M Burger’ that tells the story. It is well worth a read.

Burger Menu at M Burger

If you walk in to M Burger without ‘the knowledge’ then you will find yourself choosing from their basic Menu perhaps a Cheeseburger or an Old Fashioned, but if you have inside information you may be about to order from their ‘not so’ secret menu. What is on that menu? I hear you ask. If you head to their website you can click on the burger to find out, but just to whet your appetite I may throw down a few.

M Burger wrapper

The “Barnyard Burger” looks to be the one for me ‘Lettuce, Pickles, Onions, Sauce, Burger Patty, Chicken Breast, Bacon and American Cheese’. Another choice might be the “Chicken Mikey” which is described as ‘The Most Secret Secret Menu Item – Chicken Breast with lettuce, pickle, onion, ketchup and mayo’

But if I was to go totally out of the bun so to speak I might order “Roman Style” which is any burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of burger buns as your top and bottom. Sounds like one to order secretly and to be eaten in the corner on your own

I found a pretty good run down on the secret menu with some good pictures of the sandwiches on Thrillist well worth checking out!

The Old Fashioned Burger

Old Fashioned Burger at M Burger

The Old Fashioned Burger at M Burger, is well, as described a nod back to the classic ‘old fashioned’ toppings of ketchup, mayo, lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion and American cheese. I know that you can choose from that secret menu, but in all honesty this is one of my favourites from the menu. I even like the pickle on this burger!

The first one I ever ate at was the one in River North where I just had a cheeseburger, after that I tried the one just off the Magnificent Mile opposite the Allerton Hotel and it was the last one I ate at too just a week or so back as I was staying at that Hotel.

I wonder what impact Shake Shack will have on the joints as it has opened in relatively close proximity right in the midst of the M Burger empire. It is also ironic as it was Shake Shack that provided that first spark and thought that led to M Burger being born at the back of Tru. Interesting.

Anyhow to summarize they serve pretty good burgers at a good price and well worth a visit.

Check out M Burger out on Facebook and on Twitter 

 

M Burger on UrbanspoonM Burger on Urbanspoon

M Burger on UrbanspoonM Burger on Urbanspoon

Good Stuff Eatery Good Stuff Eatery by the Loop Lie

Good Stuff Eatery has finally opened it’s doors just under the rails of the Loop in Chicago this February. There has been much prolonged anticipation heightened late last year following Spike Mendelsohn’s victory at the 2014 Hamburger Hop in Chicago at the nearby Millenium Park during Chicago Gourmet Week. That win did make me stand up and take notice more for the category in which the victory had come where the burger was voted; the burger winning the vote of the judges panel that included former People’s Choice winner Jeff Mauro, and Top Chef and Bravo darling Carla Hall (Hootie Hoo!)

Getting excited

chef spike tweet

Last week as I packed my bags for a trip over to the Windy City I was getting excited for the prospect of visiting Good Stuff Eatery. I had found it on the map and worked out my nearest El Stops in the Loop from which to alight to track it down. I had planned to jump off the Brown line at Madison and Wabash, but in the end I rode the red line down to Monroe and walked across one block. I think that it was pretty much the same distance.

Winner of Gourmet Hamburger Hop 2014

As I noted earlier Spike had won that award for the Best burger at the Hamburger Hop in 2014, and so unsurprisingly they were advertising that in the window as you walked in. I was keen to sample of these winning burgers as I missed the 2014 Hop so that part of my order was already fixed in my mind as I walked in through the door to join the lengthy yet patient line of punters waiting to munch.

The Prez Obama Burger

Prez Obama Burger at Good Stuff Eatery

The Hamburger Hop winning effort was the famed Good Stuff Eatery staple the “Prez Obama Burger”. This is essentially a Farmhouse burger topped with “Applewood Bacon, Onion Marmalade, Roquefort Cheese & Delicious Horseradish Mayo Sauce”. I knew that I could not pass up the chance to try one of these bad boys. Even though I was initially perhaps a little uncertain about that Horseradish mayo I had nothing to fear, as it was a light and constrained flavour component to the sandwich. I liked the burger meat which was solid and moist, and the cheese, marmalade and that mayo sauce all made for a kind of really grown up savoury taste. I am not sure that it will be everyone’s cup of tea, but I for one kind of liked that flavour combination.

This burger first appeared back during that 2008 election in Washington DC at the original branch of Good Stuff when it was created as part of a fun ‘burger election’ competition. Back then the Obama burger beat the McCain Burger somewhat easily a reported 4:1.

If that result had been reversed and the election gone the other way I wonder if we would be eating that McCain burger in a Good Stuff Eatery in Arizona?  Probably not as Spike was a Top Chef Chicago Alumni so this is a good fit for him to be opening one of his restaurants here in the Windy City. That isn’t the only Chicago connection though, I heard that his sister, who we got to meet through “Life After Top Chef” had attended NorthWestern University.

The Prez Obama is not the only White House inspired sandwich on the menu. You can also get your hands or it that lips on the ‘Michelle Melt’ created for the First Lady. This is a Free Range Turkey Burger topped with Caramelized Onions, Swiss Cheese, Ruby Tomato, and Lettuce served on a freshly baked wheat bun with southlawn herb garden mayo (featuring herbs grown in the White House garden). Sounds tasty and mostly healthy.

The ‘Farmhouse Cheese’ Burger

Good Stuff Cheeseburger

Now perhaps, it may have been a little greedy but I really did not think that I could travel all this way just to eat one burger so had to try a Good Stuff Staple Cheeseburger. This is know as the ‘Farmhouse Cheese’ on the menu. In detail it is one of their Handcrafted Burgers which they describe thus “Our Farmhouse Burgers are topped with Farm Fresh Ruby Red Tomatoes, Thinly sliced onion, Crisp Lettuce & Pickles” ‘served on a sweet, buttery soft, freshly baked Pennsylvania Dutch Bun with a loving spoonful of Good Stuff sauce’

If I am totally honest I liked this burger sandwich more than the Prez Obama burger. It was packed with crunchy fresh salad and I even enjoyed the crunchy green pickles which I usually just fish out and discard. I really liked the plentiful runny Dairy Fresh American cheese which was complemented with that Good Stuff sauce (a mix of mayo, ketchup, molasses, rice vinegar and sea salt). Tangy, lightly sweet and tasty.

More Burgers on the Menu

Good Stuff Eatery Menu

All in all I really enjoyed the burgers that I ate at Good Stuff Eatery. It was really busy and the line was out of the door on the lunch time that I walked in. It is early days and they are still in training so I kind of felt that there was more to come.

tweet about burger

Good Stuff Eatery in Chicago is located within sight of the overhead Loop track at 22 South Wabash Ave, Chicago IL 60603.

Easy walking from both the Madison and Wabash, and Adams and Wabash Brown Line stops. You can follow on them on Twitter @chefspike

Good Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon

The South Loop Club

Recently I found myself staying down by the Harrison El Stop kind of by accident. I was pretty much desperate for something to eat and ended up at the South Loop Club, a kind of half dive bar half sports bar, I quite liked it.

Burger Options at South Loop Club

I will be honest and say that apart from a cold beer or two I was not expecting too much food wise so I played it pretty safe and selected from the South Loop Club Burgers section of the menu.

This was to be a pretty good move as both burgers that we ordered ended up being pretty decent affairs.

The SLC (South Loop Club) Burger

The South Loop Special Burger

 

I was going to just get the Mushroom Swiss Burger, but at the last minute I caved into the moment and decided to give the  SLC special a whirl. The ‘South Loop Club’ special (to give you it’s full name) is an 8oz Broiled Burger topped with Sautéed Mushrooms, Cheddar Cheese and ‘Crazy’ onions. I didn’t really know what the crazy onions were going to be, but as it happens they were just thinly sliced onion rings. In other places I have seen these called ‘frings’ as they are kind of a combination of ‘fries’ and ‘rings’. To be honest they were a bit ‘meh’ so I just pulled them out of the bun and turned them into a side. For some reason the SLC seemed to think that I wanted some sort of children’s plate as they served me a portion of curly fries as well. What was that all about?

Bacon Cheese Burger

OK but the burger? Yes the burger was pretty good, the patty had been cooked on the open broiler so you got all that charcoal type flavour and lots of smoky juice. I asked for it to be medium and that was how if came. Really well seasoned and a really good solid bite that mixed with the soft mushroom and the molten cheese was just what I needed. I was washing this down with a pint of 312 and that was also a pretty good accompaniment.

The Bacon Cheeseburger

South Loop Club Burger

My Companion played it a little more simple and ordered ‘The Cheeseburger’, which as you might expect was a Burger topped with cheese. So OK it wasn’t the most amazing gourmet cheese on the top, it might have been just a simple slice of  Cheddar cheese, but sometimes that is all that you need. He appeared to have enjoyed it as well, he even liked the curly fries. I have no further comment on that part of his enjoyment.

South Loop Club Menu Front

The menu describes the South Loop Grill as ‘An Intown Bar and Grill with Neighborhood Flair’. Well now I am not sure about that, it wasn’t any kind of club that I have even been into, but it seemed to be an OK kind of place to hang out for a while, drink a beer and eat a burger, while watching the sports on one of their many televisions.

It is within easy walking distance of the Harrison El Stop on the Red Line, and the Orange Line rattles by overhead as you walk along the streets outside. You can easily spot the place as it has a great big sign and awning outside. If you are down this way I would say that it is a pretty safe bet and worth popping in for some simple fare and sustenance.

If you so wish you may follow them on Twitter and on Facebook

South Loop Club on Urbanspoon

When in New York and I am in the mood for some Food Truck food, it seems that the best port of call these days, is to head over to Union Square. There are always a whole mass of Food Trucks lined up there and the only decision for me is to try a new one that I have not encountered before. On this day that encounter was to be with The Morocho Van.

Even though there were many tasty looking items on the menu board, if you stick a sign in the window that claims that you have one of the best 10 burgers in New York well that claim has to be tested.

The Morocho Burger is an All beef patty topped with a fried egg, fried plantain, lettuce and tomato, some salsa criolla (basically a Peruvian Onion, Pepper & Lime Salsa), and Rocoto mayo (the Rocoto is a Peruvian red pepper). So the first picture on the left is the actual burger as presented to me, the second one on the right is the picture from the village voice. Both look equally good and it was a particularly tasty burger. Top Ten? Um not sure. As always I love a fried egg topping, but it is getting a bit ‘de rigeur’, everyone is doing it these days, we need something new to tickle our taste buds with. I quite liked the plantain, but the whole burger was so big that they fell out too easily and got lost in a whole pile of bits in the tray. The mayo and the salsa were total money, I think that they could have been the factor propelling the burger into the Village Top Ten, originality could have been the key here.

It was still pretty darn good though!