Saturday, September 22, 2007


Gibson's Bar and Steakhouse
1028 N Rush St
(312) 266-8999

Back to business. Adam and I took a week off to observe his birthday (with an undocumented , long-overdue meal at Kuma's), but we're back into the swing of things. This week, we hit Gibson's on Rush St, which is triangulated by Lux Bar and Hugo's Frog Bar (their seafood restaurant, which apparently serves the same burger).

I'm not the expert I'd like to be, but I have this general sense that, in Chicago, Gene & Georgetti is the vintage classic; David Burke's Primehouse is where you go if you know-slash-care about dry aging; Smith & Wollensky's the steak with the view; and Gibson's is the brassy, loud clubhouse for the noveau riche (no disrespect). Our experience did not disappoint.

I tried to make reservations via OpenTable the night before. OpenTable told me that they were full-up all night---cool, OpenTable's allotment of tables is full; we'll just roll up and wait half an hour.

Not a chance. This place was PACKED in a way that you just don't see in expensive restaurants. The harried-but-friendly hostess advised us that our best shot was to try to snag one of the first-come, first-served tables in the bar, which was fine with me, because I always feel a little weird about taking up a booth at a steakhouse to eat a cheeseburger.

Rickles: "To Gibson's: The food is great, but why can't the waiters tip me?"

The bar was just as packed as the atrium, but we were able to grab a two-top within a few minutes. Adam ordered the house gin martini (which actually isn't a gibson, it's straight-up with olives). I ordered a rye Manhattan, which I eventually got, although it was so noisy in there the waitress thought I'd ordered an---ick---vodka Manhattan. Good thing she checked. (The end result was nothing special.)

Usual burger orders: medium hamburger for Adam, med-rare bleu cheeseburger for me.

Gibson's is an incredibly hard place to take pictures.

S'alight? S'alight, but it's pretty apparent Gibson's doesn't really care about the burger. In contrast to everything we saw around us (football-sized steaks, slices of pie the size of a boot), the burger was a bit on the small side for a $10-$13 sandwich. The meat was fine, cooked to our specifications, and the tomato/lettuce/onion were crisp and fresh. The egg bun delivered a schizophrenic performance, functioning admirably on top, dissolving miserably on the bottom (not helped by Gibson's bizarre decision to put the cheese on the bottom of the bun). The beef wasn't very flavorful or assertive, but the total package was a respectable steakhouse take on a California-style cheeseburger.* Fries were pretty good. The huge bowls of slaw went untouched after an obligatory taste.

The Rosebud has nothing to worry about.

*A much cheaper, better option for this style is available at Relax Lounge for $4/$2 on Mondays. I think they opened after Time Out's issue, but I may write them up here at some point regardless, because it's THE burger deal going right now.


Tony Ritz said...

I'm only one man, but Relax wasn't all that. Also, this take has nothing to do with the botched ordering and everything to do with the hype. If I'd gone in with no expectations I'd have left happy, following Eric's (who else?) enthusiastic rants of how good it is, well, I was more than disappointed.

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