Sunday, October 16, 2016


New burger joints are opening up every day in the Chicago area.  While I prefer solo restaurants (as opposed to chains), if the chain is small and allows each restaurant to have a personality of its own, I am willing to check it out.  A friend of mine and I recently tried out a new burger joint, Bareburger, that recently opened in Roscoe Village.  It is a small chain based in NYC (The first Bareburger opened in Queens although the burgers were based on a burgers made in a former bar in Brooklyn).  They emphasize local, organic, and sustainable, which are all good things, so I was interested.  Restaurant is located on an odd corner on Lincoln Avenue that is almost, but not quite a six-way intersection and the building oddly shaped with the entrance on the narrow side.  The dining room is vaguely L-shaped with the bar and kitchen occupying the area inside the corner.  We sat on the long side of the L where there is three rows of seating, tables by the outside windows, a center row of two-tops, and the bar.  The floor, bar and furniture are light wood, polished smooth, but not shiny.  There is also a lot of wood trim on the walls, as well as bust portraits of farm animals in more formal attire (not tuxedos, but nice suits and dresses).  It kind of reminded me of the animal portraiture at Boka.  The menu is divided into Crops (salads), Greens (large salads), Shares, Wiches, Burgers, and Sides.  All menu items also have the calories listed.  There is also an interesting selection of shakes.  They have a nice beer selection (served in 12 or 20 oz sizes) and a small list of house cocktails. As we were both interested in the burgers and the beer, that is what we focused on.  I started with a Temperance ESB (12 oz), which was pretty good, and decided to share an order of Rings and Fries which were served with Smoke Sauce (BBQ), Special Sauce, Habanero Mayo, and Curry Ginger Ketchup for dipping.  They were served in a cardboard boat on wax paper marked with a bear and a burger.  My friend also noticed that the white plates with blue striping around the outer portion also had a bear and a burger opposite each other in the area of the striping.  Both the fries and rings were crisp and flavorful and while the dipping sauces were nice and very good (I liked the Habanero Mayo and the Curry Ginger Ketchup best), they were really not necessary to enjoy either the onion rings or the fries.
The burgers were interesting.  While they had a very wide variety of options to build your own burger (11 different patties, 4 buns, 4 bacons, 15 different veggies, 11 sauces, and six spreads), I was very happy that they had a good number of preselected burgers, because, in the past I have run into what sounds good does not all necessarily go together.  While I was deciding to build my own burger or go with a preselected burger, I ordered a Maplewood Fat Pug Milk Stout, which while flavorful and tasted like a stout should, was also eminently drinkable.  I went with a burger called the Grindburger, which started with Elk Burger, and added Manchego Cheese, Piquante Relish, Green Leaf (lettuce), and Paprika Mayo on a Toasted Brioche Bun.  This was a good burger.  The elk had a gamy flavor to it, as should be expected, but the rustic flavor of the manchego, and the spice from the Piquante Relish and the Paprika Mayo went well with it.  I am not going to say that this was a burger for everyone, as it was a bit strong, but I thought that the flavors worked well together, and made for a good burger.

Bareburger has differentiated themselves from the many other burger joints that are opening and have opened in Chicago recently.  I like their aim, to be local, sustainable, and organic, and the fact that they have a lot of choices on their menu.  It is worthy of consideration when you are looking for a good burger and a beer.                

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