Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three Aces -- The Verdict

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, the restaurant was dark; the reviews were stormy.  This was a complex burger.  "Nor for amateurs.  For auteurs maybe."  It was the Roshomon of burgers -- as no two reviewers saw the same thing.  "As complicated a burger as God will allow on this rock."  We could agree on some things:  we all liked the bacon jam, and we all thought the homemade ketchup was disappointing.  We also thought the complex combination of beef, bun, jam, and other toppings had great potential, but the experience was off.  For proponents:  "An amazing burger:  I'd have scored just the bun and bacon jam highly.  The fantastic patty was a bonus."  For detractors:  "A hot mess."  We also liked our server, but the kitchen took forever.  In sum:  "Could have been great, but it took too long, the sides were tasteless, the fries were cold."  Indeed, the fries were more like nubbins than proper-lengthed stalks.  Said another:  "I just wish the burger was served somewhere else, by some other cook, with other sides."  Low of 57; high of 89; average of 74.

Exhibit 34 -- Three Aces

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sepia -- The Verdict

Rich, flavorful beef.  This must be a custom blend from a talented butcher/chef combo.  A real artist.  A beef-ista, if you will.  We loved the flavor, the Red Dragon Cheddar, and the duck-fat fries on the side.  Very well prepared; all our burgers were cooked perfectly to order.  The flavor and presentation meant that condiments were not needed.  Also, professionally served by warm, friendly, but not cloying staff.  It's hard to find faults here.  Perhaps our buns could have used 30 more seconds on the grill, but c'mon man, this was a wonderful experience.  The quality and even distribution of reviews shows that Sepia knows its burgers.  Low of 87; high of 93; average of 90!

Exhibit 33 -- Sepia

Saturday, October 6, 2012

25 Degrees -- The Verdict

We Chicagoans are welcoming folks.  So, we welcome this West Coast import to our midst.  This boĆ®te brings a baroque bordello brassiness to the burger bar battles.  It also brought a wide range of opinion from our reviewers.  25 Degrees offers pre-designed creative burger options, as well as a build-your-own selection, drawing from some 16 cheeses, 14 toppings, and 13 sauces.  We all agree on the helpful service, cool vibe, and a pleasant generosity with refills.  I think we also would say you get a hefty burger for the $9 base price.  Advocates appreciated the interesting combinations, careful preparation, and flavorful cheeses and toppings.  Detractors derided a certain messiness in some of the combinations, questioned whether the $1 sauces added value, and disliked the herbed fries and bacon-wrapped-dates.  Our modal reviewer summed it up:  "Plenty of burger and interesting variety for the price; I just wished I liked it better."  Low of 62; high of 89; average 79.

Exhibit 32 -- 25 Degrees

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grange Hall Burger Bar -- The Verdict

This place hit the spot.  Where the sweet spot hits the meat spot.  Said one reviewer:  "This may be the pie talking, but I could live here:  It's awesome."  Another noted:  "The way I like burgers in the sort of place I like to eat them."  Nice, not-too-hipster, Americana, Iron-and-Wine loving ambiance.  Terrific options; attractive presentation; great flavor; strong finish.  It also didn't hurt that we visited on a perfect day for indoor/outdoor dining.  If you wanted to find flaws, you might note that the the burger was a bit small for the price, and several noted the burger was a bit more over-cooked than expected.  Fantastic onion rings and pie!  Low of 86; high of 95; average of 90.  Welcome to the 90+ club, Grange.  You're in fine company.  

Exhibit 31 -- Grange Hall Burger Bar

Hop Haus -- The Verdict

Pub grub, bub.  Your basic burger, only a bit sloppier.  Tasty, big, but perhaps a little haphazard.  If we all could have had a few beers to go along, when knows how the score could have skewed upward.  There's much to like.  Goos apps.  Plenty of choice and variety when it comes to the burger itself.  Highlights:  bun (pretzel, great), topping options.  Lowlights:  handling, under-seasoned beef.  Also, waffle fries and off-brand ketchup didn't help the overall scores.  Low of 74; high of 80; average of 77.

Exhibit 30 -- Hop Haus

Friday, April 27, 2012

Custom House Tavern -- The Verdict

We expected more, Custom House.  We loved your spacious dining room; cool, clean feel; and flavorful, peppery beef.  However, the delicious patty was lost in a bun that, to its fans, was a bit overwhelming, and, to its critics, was dry, if not stale.  Either way, the bun was so hearty, we found ourselves gnawing on it long after the beef was gone.  For every thing we liked -- the tasty, perfectly seasoned fries -- there was a counter-point, such as the cheese, that was so mild and flavorless, some had to resort to photographic proof that it was there in the first place.  The burgers were cooked to perfection; but the service didn't seem to quite congeal.  The homemade steak sauce pleased most of our group, and is worth a special mention.  At a $15 price point, we didn't quite get the experience we so richly deserved.  Low of 72; high of 82; average of 76.

Exhibit 29 -- Custom House Tavern