I ride my bike to the windy city's hidden gems, lost goldmines, new kids on the block, and old standbys then tell you what to think and what to order. Check, czech, Česká it out...

Friday, November 18, 2011

We're Just Ordinary People, Part 8: Butchers Be Trippin'

When a new restaurant opens in my hood I. CHECK. IT. OUT. So when I heard there was a rare BYOBsquared (build  your own burger/bring your own booze) opening just blocks from my house, I jumped at the opportunity to review my skinny ass off.

The restaurant is Butcher and The Burger. Think of it as a smaller and entirely independent counterpart to Lincoln Park's other BYOBurger spot The Counter (which is part of a national chain). Both places ask you to choose every aspect of your sandwich from the bun to the type of meat to all the fixins your already taxed veins can tolerate.

Burgers
––Grass Fed Beef––
Temp: Medium Rare
Seasoning: Sonoran
Bun: Pretzel
Fixins': Lettuce, Tomato, Griddled Onion, Cheddar, Fried Egg

If you're looking for the signature meat option on B&B's extensive option list, this is it. The patty is thinner (and by default, more traditional) than most couture burgers you find in Chicago, but not so thin that cooking temperature becomes an afterthought. The expertly fried egg provided an instant emulsion that, when combined with the caramelized onions, offered up a taste of opulent richness to this otherwise honest working man's burger.

––Cube Steak––
Temp: Medium Rare
Seasoning: Cajun
Bun: Pretzel
Fixins': Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar, Thick Cut Bacon

When I ordered the cube steak at the counter I was told that it was not ground meat but actually a thin cut cube steak. Undaunted I proceeded to order it medium rare and with minimal toppings (or fixins' as we call them here) so that I could enjoy the finer aspects of this oh-so-choice cut of flesh. What I was served was a chewy, largely flavorless and all together unsatisfying sandwich. Save for the professional grade bacon (mouthwatering), fresh veggies, and sharp cheese this burger was huge let down. I don't advise getting it unless you want a jaw workout.

––Elk––
Temp: Rare
Seasoning: Chicago Steak
Bun: Butter Bun
Fixins': Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle, Fried Egg, Truffle Mayo, Goat Cheese

Ah Elk, that majestic horse sized deer of legend. Roaming freely through the forest, grazing on tree bark and summer grasses, perching on rocky outcroppings looking proud and noble...BOOM. One well placed blast from a hunter's rifle reduces the once mighty beast to a city dweller's dinner protein*. Like most venison Elk is lean meat that is easily overcooked when done wrong. Luckily the grillers at B&B did it right. The meat was indeed lean but also full flavored, a bit gamey and oddly reminiscent of homemade burgers I grew up eating. This burger practically oozes masculinity so only order it if you're up for the test.

Brass Tacks
The burger craze has been longer lived than most of us expected. That being said I think we're better off for it because we now have a menagerie of options when it comes to this old American stand by. So if you're in the heart of Lincoln Park this winter and need something that will raise your spirits and your resting heart rate, grab a six pack stop into The Burger and The Butcher. Just don't order the cube steak.

*Most elk, bison and venison eaten in the U.S. come from ranches where herds are raised free range and grass fed. For restaurants to rely on the accuracy and cunning of American hunters would be an exercise in futility. 
Butcher & The Burger on Urbanspoon
Butcher and the Burger

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