Chicago, IL 60611
Dammit, I drew another miniburger restaurant. This week, Adam and I took a trip to the Viagra Triangle and sampled what the Gibson's/Hugo's folks are doing with Lux Bar, a kind of Denny's-for-silver-foxes that serves TOC's overall best miniburger, which it ought to be, at $3 apiece.
Lux Bar is a loud, upscale sports bar, classy in the way that a stretch Lincoln Navigator is classy. It's typical Gold Coast, full of old geezers and too-cute girls. The building looks like a casino. There's a bathroom attendant. It's completely ridiculous.
The all-over print on the menu cover [PDF] suggests that they want you to think that they can make you a drink, and it seems as though they can. I ordered a "Ramos Gin Fizz" plucked from the text, and Adam threw them a curveball by ordering a Southside if they knew how to make it, a Gibson if they didn't.
They didn't, but the drinks we did receive were pretty much perfect. The Gibson was great; I still think ordering any kind of martini should default to gin and not vodka, but I realize I'm probably in the minority in this day and age. The Ramos resembled an Orange Julius, which isn't a bad thing.
We ordered a "beef" miniburger and a "filet mignon" miniburger, medium. They look identical on the plate; the beef comes with pickles that are apparently made in-house, but taste pretty standard.
The $4 filetburger was truly great: juicy, steaky, perfectly seasoned (it was definitely closer to medium-rare, though). It's way too expensive for a three-bite sandwich, but if for some unforeseeable reason you needed the absolute best miniburger in Chicago, this is probably the one to have. Good call, TOC. The regular beef was fine, but nothing you haven't seen before.
We really would have called it an evening there, if it wasn't for this LTH thread featuring glowing praise for the patty melt from most-trusted poster Erik M (edit: see the comments for some clarification). I love good patty melts and seek them out, so I had to give this one a try.
It was okay. The orange "pub cheese" (Erik seems to think it's Merkt's cheese sauce) is a pretty unconventional addition (patty melts are supposed to have swiss, right?) that provided lubrication but little flavor. The bread held its own, but it didn't have much rye flavor. Don't get me wrong; I finished it, but I'd probably try something else next time (the fried chicken looked promising).
To round out the meal, we ordered an order of really-standard fried onions that came with a tiny carafe of really thin barbecue sauce and a set of tongs. You know what these things are.
And an order of their macaroni and cheese:
Adam liked this fine, but I was disappointed. I don't know how this happened, but for some reason, Chicagoans are OK with spending silly amounts of money on what amounts to gussied-up Kraft. That might be a bit harsh, but we're still talking about a preponderance of Velveeta n' noodles, which, to me, is just gross. Maybe I was spoiled by my mother's peerless baked macaroni and cheese (made with a roux and a bechemel sauce with 3/4 of a pound of sharp Cheddar), which is still just alchemy as far as I'm concerned. For my money, any place with "lux" in its name had better come correct with something closer to this (damn, what a picture) than what they're currently serving. Get serious.