Au Cheval’s (800 W. Randolph St.) kitchen stays open late – usually until about 1 in the morning. Yeah. And this is a great thing because they have instantly jumped onto my list of favorite overall restaurants merely on my first visit. This is not an easy feat. I usually have to visit somewhere at least twice to ensure its consistency with product and service are in line. No need here.
We went in after work around 10:30 and the restaurant was pretty much full. We were lucky enough to be seated at a cozy table near the back of the restaurant. Gourmet Magazine editors were in town a few days earlier and unofficially stated the burger at Au Cheval may be one of, if not THE, country’s best burger. This is a bold statement. We both had to try the burger – and we wanted our own – a rare choice by myself and m’lady.
Their “single” burger, priced at a mere $9.95, features two 4 oz. patties cooked on a griddle until a perfect medium rare. There’s a nice char on the outside of the meat and the juices are sealed in nicely. You can taste the difference in the high quality meat they use and the simple American cheese that tops the sandwich, with a little “dijonaise” and pickles just works so well. For three dollars more you can add an extremely well worth it slice or two of, let’s call it pork belly, because it’s extremely thick cut and takes the burger just over the top, certainly to the next level of insanity.
In this case every ingredient complemented the next with precision and lots of trial and error. I like how there’s no lettuce or tomato as well. Even in this case, the pickles are just right, and I actually didn’t remove them – very unlike me. The whole of this burger is much much greater than the sum of its parts.
I couldn’t very well have a burger and not enjoy at least two different kinds of spuds now could I? Along with simple but exceptionally prepared french fries, we also ordered the duck heart hash. Simply prepared with slow cooked duck heart that melted away in your mouth, Au Cheval chose to do their potatoes in slab form versus the more traditional dice or shredded method.
The sunny side up egg is delicious when you break it all over the rich meaty goodness. All in all, this was a fantastic meal that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who is into really well done comfort food. Au Cheval calls itself a French diner. I would dare to say that their food can be put up against ANY “diner” in our fine city and it has a very fair chance at prevailing in every aspect. Go for the burger, stay for the hash.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!