Last week, a reader asked when would I post another Chicago restaurant review. After contemplating which direction I should go, I decided to review another of the city's most talked about burger joints.
1578 North Clybourn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
(Between North Dayton Street and North Halsted Street)
GF NOTE: My review of DMK Burger Bar was well received and I did get a bit of unexpected validation last week. One of Chicago's top food critics listed his Top 25 Burger Places in the city and he did NOT list DMK. Mark it eight Dude.
Located directly across from the Lincoln Park Apple Store and the CTA's North Clybourn Red Line, the Burger Bar is easily accessible. In addition to public transportation, the restaurant also has parking available.
On Monday, I joined four friends and co-workers at the Burger Bar for an early dinner…one of my compadres had to get home for salsa class so we all arrived around 5:30. Our plan was to “make ourselves available” for a sampling of the Monday night specials...Pick-Six Craft Buckets for $25 and 20 chicken wings for an additional $5. One of the reasons I brought such a large group along for the review was so I could taste more items and to see how the restaurant handled a large and particularly obnoxious table.
The craft beer selection is outstanding and we made it our mission to try and help them lower their inventory of several different styles. Our server Ginger was absolutely outstanding and understood early on that she was dealing with a seasoned group of veterans. This was not a group of rookies from Class A Instructional League.
After delivery of our first bucket, I made an executive decision to direct all food orders. I felt a little like Alexander, Washington, Lee and Patton as I made the decisions of what food we tried. Like all great generals of the past, I know that the ultimate responsibility would be mine. I know that the insults and barbs would rain down like arrows and bullets if I failed to select the right items.
We began with the much-recommended fried pickles. Unlike other restaurants, the pickles were not hamburger chips, but sliced dill pickles fried in a light batter served with the house “urban sauce” for dipping. The portion was perfect for a large table to sample and the sauce was the right complement.
For the next course, I decided to go ahead and take care of the chicken wing special. Ginger spoke highly of the “sassy” wings and she was dead on. They were amazing. The wings had a distinct island jerk flavor, finished on the grill and were served with a sriracha aioli sauce. Those 20 wings did not have a chance.
After our second bucket, it was now time to hit the mac and cheese. Since this blog has an affinity for all things pork, the selection of the two mac and cheese versions that needed to be ordered were simple enough…peppered bacon and pulled pork. All I can say is that both orders were made in pig heaven but the pulled pork mac and cheese was the hands down favorite.
Once Ginger saw our love of the pig, she recommended a new beer that was just recently added to the draft selection…Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale. This organic brew from Santa Cruz, California really hit the spot and would definitely make a nice sauce. While it is a tad expensive at $8 a pint, all true lovers of the pig should make an effort to try this unique craft. The Bacon Brown was given a “Thumbs Up” by the “King of Craft Beers”, who joined us at the Burger Bar to critique our overall beer selections.
Now it was on to the main course...burgers. I ordered both the High Hog Stacker (BBQ Pork Burger, Bacon, Ham, White Cheddar with Apple Cabbage Slaw) and the Bar Cheese Burger (Horseradish Cheddar Spread and added Bacon) with both regular and truffle fries. I asked for the slaw on the side since I am a Southerner and very picky about my slaw and I’m glad I did…it was vinegar-based, bland and tasteless.
Both burgers had amazing flavor and while smaller than Kuma’s, large enough. The Bar Cheese Burger was ordered medium and did come out a little overcooked but that did not hurt the flavor. All of the pig accents (pork burger, bacon and ham) tasted great and the BBQ sauce was obviously not some cheap institutional brand.
The fries were natural, shoestring style potatoes cooked perfectly but the truffle oil fries were a home run. For those who have enjoy the garlic fries in the San Francisco area, these fries are for you.
After Ginger delivered our third and final bucket, I asked her about the hand-spun milk shakes. She said the “special” was the way I wanted to go. It was made with Bailey’s ice cream and a Bailey’s Carmel reduction on top. Say no more. I ordered one and asked her for five small glasses in order to share. Another server arrived with the shake, we just went ahead and poured our individual portions into the stout glasses that were now empty and destroyed this fantastic dessert…all before Ginger returned with the shot glasses.
That just happened.
Overall, the experience was fantastic and rates a perfect FIVE (5) PIGS on GREGG'S FIVE (5) PIG scale. The Burger Bar is definitely my favorite Chicago burger joint and I rate it ahead of Kuma's since I do not have to stand in line for an hour just to get inside the door.
PROS: Trendy (if you like trendy), Location, Great Daily Specials, Service, Generous Portions, Fried Pickles, Chicken Wings, Mac & Cheese, Burgers, Fries, Beer Selection, Milkshakes
CONS: Trendy (if you don’t like trendy)
BURGER BAR FEBRUARY BEER OF THE MONTH
New Belgium Belgo IPA
BURGER BAR DRAFTS ON TAP:
- Allagash White
- Bell's Two Hearted
- Goose Island Green Line
- Goose Island Matilda
- Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
- Half Acre Gossamer
- Harpoon Leviathan Series
- Metropolitan Krankshaft Kolsch
- North Coast Old Rasputin
- Seedling Farms Cider
- Sprecher Abbey Tripel
- Stone Ruination IPAD
- Three Floyd's Robert The Bruce
- Two Brother's Domaine Dupage
- Uncommon Organic Bacon Brown Ale
BURGER BAR WEEKLY DINE IN SPECIALS:
$4 Drafts - All Day
Pick-Six Craft Buckets $25 and 20 Chicken Wings $5
Goose Island Brew Night
$3 Goose Island Beers
$4 Drafts and $5 Snacks
$5 Premium Drafts
$4 Craft Drafts
$1 PBR Cans/Little Kings
Good day friends and stay classy.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Chip, I'm gonna come at you like a spider monkey!”
COMING UP: Bacon…The Candy of Meats.
Tags: Allagash White, Bacon, Bailey's Irish Cream, Bell's Two Hearted, Burger, Chicago, Craft Beer, Goose Island Green Line, Goose Island Matilda, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Half Acre Gossamer, Ham, Harpoon Leviathan Series, Kuma's Corner, Mac and Cheese, Metropolitan Krankshaft Kolsch, New Belgium Belgo IPA, North Coast Old Rasputin, Peppered Bacon, Pork, Pulled Pork, Restaurant Review, Salsa Dancing, Seedling Farms Cider, Sprecher Abbey Tripel, Stone Ruination IPAD, Three Floyd's Robert The Bruce, Two Brother's Domaine Dupage, Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale