Posts Tagged ‘burgers’

Tiny Lounge, Lincoln Square

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

she said:

Truffle.  Cheese.  Fries.  Combine these ingredients and what do you have?  Heaven?  Bliss?  A divine trifecta?  You’d think so, right?  Not so much.  The Truffle Cheese Fries at Tiny Lounge were a waste of calories.  They needed salt and without the help of tamarind ketchup (which does not come with the fries, but which is available if you ask), they were as bland as melba toast dipped in milk, and almost as limp.

Next came the Pizzetta Margerita, a crispy thin-crust pizza (topped with mozzarella, basil and tomato) served on a wood cutting board.  Sound like a winner?  Yeah?  Wrong again, sucka.  It, too, was rather light in the flavor loafers.  Instead of tomato sauce, the pizza is coated in herb-infused oil which just made it greasy.

Normally, I’d never order fries and pizza in one meal, but I had no choice.  They were the only vegetarian options.  Wait.  That’s not true.  There was another version of the fries, this one served with garlic mayo and the tamarind ketchup, and there was another pizza.  A truffle cheese pizza.  You can see my dilemma.

So, I must really hate Tiny Lounge, right?  Wrong.

The lounge is cozy and candlelit, with a modern vibe and very nice staff.  The drink menu offers dozens of classic and original cocktails, an extensive beer list and quality wines.  Clearly, drinks are their specialty.  If approached as a cocktail lounge, rather than a restaurant, Tiny Lounge is the cat’s pajamas.  It’s nice that they have a menu, rather than bags of old peanuts.  Plus, it’s not their fault that I’m a vegetarian.

I’ll definitely be back.  My prediction:  after a couple of their specialty Hemingway cocktails (flor de cana aged rum, turbinado sugar, fresh lime juice), those fries will look (and taste) pretty damn good.

he said:

Here’s the thing about Tiny Lounge: we entered under false pretenses. We were going just for dinner. We’d made some…questionable choices the night before and didn’t really feel like drinking it up. Had we known that this was a bar with a gourmet grub menu, we might have saved our Groupon.

We had a hard time using up our $40 deal without ordering from their expensive drink menu. A Dark and Stormy, a classic mixed drink in the Florida rum-bum tradition, was the extent of our alcohol bill. Nice and tasty, though at $9, it’s a bit pricy for your typical Floridian rum-bum.


My beautiful wife loves her salt.  A whole lot. So when she complains that the fries weren’t salty, that’s not saying much. I thought the fries were great. They had a different flavor profile than the McDonald’s variety – - more rich, more interesting, more layered. They were superior BECAUSE they weren’t salty. Salt would have taken away from all the savory stuff that was going on there.


For dinner, I had the Tiny Burgers, which are sliders.  These little guys are definitely the star of the menu, as I saw them on almost every table in the joint. And they are exactly what I’d want to eat at the end of a long night of Hemingways and Dark & Stormys (Stormies?).

The burgers come on a great pretzel bun, with good angus beef, smoked bacon and delicious cheddar.  The accompanying tamarind ketchup and garlic mayo came together in a weird melange that tasted like barbecue sauce, which has no place on a burger if you ask me. And it could have used something to crsip it up, like onions or a pickle.

I’d head back to Tiny Lounge, but I’m not going to make a point of it. I feel like I’ve already sampled half of their menu, and there was nothing to fall in love with.

Cooper’s, Lake View

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

she said:

Last night we joined our good friends for their weekly jaunt to Cooper’s for dinner. They love the place and are, like us, are a couple composed of one meatophile and one veggie so we knew we were in good hands.

Now, there’s nothing about Cooper’s that makes me want to scream from rooftops, but it’s an all-around great restaurant/pub and I plan to go back often.

Its numerous virtues include the following:
1. They have a great big parking lot behind the restaurant (on Belmont!)
2. And a beautiful covered patio (which is closed for winter, of course, but looks awesome and is pet friendly).
3. On Thursdays, their delicious pizzas are half off. I had the truffle mushroom pizza; it was, without hyperbole, one of the best pub pizzas I’ve ever had.
4. The drink menu is extensive. The multi-page list of imported beers ends with a tiny section (labeled “We’re Not Snobs”) of Budweiseresque variety brews. Martini options abound.
5. There’s plenty of seating and the atmosphere is hip laid-back casual.

I was less impressed by my vegetarian French Onion Soup. French Onion is normally one of my all time favorites, probably because of the thick melted cheese topping. The standard beef broth recipe is off limits for me, but – little known fact – the rich taste comes from the caramelized onions, not the broth. Thus, tasty vegetarian recipes are out there, although I don’t think I’ve ever had one at a restaurant (if you know of any, please let me know). Anyway, Cooper’s was skimpy on the cheese, but certainly not on the black pepper, which dominated the taste and, ultimately, made the soup a culinary failure, in my opinion.

Still, Cooper’s had just about everything this girl could ask for in a low key/good food night out with friends. Oh, and there’s a pile of smooth decorative rocks in the sink of the women’s restroom. I think that’s nice.

he said:

This is a great neighborhood spot. Makes me kind of wish I lived in Lake View. It has the kind of pub grub that makes you feel bad about calling it pub grub* because it doesn’t get across the thought and care that goes into each dish.

*I’ve seen so many great pubs here in Chicago that have interesting menus and delicious dishes, I think we need to come up with a word for it. Something like bar-met (get it, bar and gourmet?) or maybe pubtacular…I’ll keep working.

The service was extremely friendly, helped by the presence our friends, who are regulars. And the beer list was impressive, something that I also keep seeing in Chicago.

Fried Calamari

Coming off my experience with the grilled calamari at Antica Pizzeria, I was ready to be unimpressed when our friends recommended Cooper’s fried calamari. And when it came out, it came out as sticks, instead of the rings I’m used to. It looked like fried mozzarella, and I was thinking this was some Van de Kamps style processed squid.

But one bite showed me that I was wrong. It wasn’t processed–I’m not sure what part of the squid it was from, but it was one cut of meat. And they paired it with true cocktail sauce, not marinara. It was surprising, though I suppose it shouldn’t be. I’m just used to seeing marinara next to calamari.

This wasn’t as good as the grilled calamari, but it was a great fried calamari that rises above the typical pub grub fare.

Rockstar Burger, because I was feeling like a rockstar

Despite the fact that it was half-off pizza night, I just couldn’t turn down the Rockstar Burger. It wasn’t that I fell in love with it on the menu, I just felt like a burger. And I’m really glad I did.

It came topped with a slaw, instead of the regular toppings of a lettuce leaf and a slice of tomato. The slaw was made of chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes and blue cheese. It was tightly packed on top of the burger. I was worried it would spill everywhere, but it stayed in place really well.

And it was a nice addition to the burger. The blue cheese (or is it bleu?) didn’t overpower, it was a nice addition. However, it did make the provolone cheese I ordered on the burger superfluous.

This is the kind of neighborhood spot that makes you love your neighborhood. We have a few here in Andersonville, but Coopers is a good place to have in Lake View.

Hophaus, Rogers Park

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

he said:

As you may know,  I’m fairly new to Chicago. That means I’m not a Bears fan.

(audible gasp)

I know, I know. But really, with the way they’ve played this year, can you blame me? No, I’m a Bengals fan. And I’m trying to convince my beautiful girlfriend to bleed Bengal black and orange. This year, it hasn’t been hard. The Bengals are clearly superior, as evidenced by their 45-10 drubbing of the Bears. No, the hardest part has been finding the Bengals game on TV.

Which brings us to Hophaus. We’d heard a rumor that you could watch any NFL game on Sundays, but that’s the only thing we’d heard. So when we went to the game one Sunday recently, we were simply hoping to watch the game and maybe have a beer or seven. (Well, maybe just me. She’s always looking for a fine culinary experience.) So we were surprised when we loved the menu and, well, pretty much everything about Hophaus.

Great, Patient Service

We walk into this huge pub, and I knew we were in a great place when I see a huge mural of sports figures. Not just Chicago sports figures, though I do believe I remember seeing Ditka in there.  I think Pete Rose was in it as well, so I liked my chances for a Bengal victory. Or at least seeing the game.

We told the hostess that we wanted to watch the Bengals game, and she put us in a spot that didn’t have a great view of the game. So we asked our waiter if we could move to another table. Oh, and could they put it on another TV? Great, thanks.

Oh wait, this table of softball players is leaving and we just heard we have more friends coming? You don’t mind if we move, right?

We may have been the most annoying table on that particular Sunday, but our waiter, David, was really cool about it. He even put the game on a couple more TVs for us.

Book Length Menu

I always worry when we go into this sort of situation, for my girlfriends sake, that everything on the menu will have some sort of meat in it. Like every dip is made with a chicken broth, or they put bacon fat on toast instead of butter, and beef chili on top of their portobello mushroom sandwich. But as we looked through the menu, we realized everything looked good, and it seemed like 1/3 of the menu was vegetarian.

I started things off with bloody mary, which was good. We then shared a spinach and artichoke dip, also good. Then things got interesting.

I ordered a breakfast pizza, from their extensive selection of breakfast pizzas. I was amazed, I’ve never seen an extensive collections of breakfast pizzas. That’s like the marriage of two of my favorite things. I had a spicy chipotle pizza, with spicy chorizo and covered in a thin layer of scrambled eggs and topped with a chipotle sauce. It was delicious. It was also a lot of food, but so worth it.

Oh, and the Bengals won.

she said:

I admit, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed Hop Haus.  I mean, it’s a sports bar that touts a selection of 24 burgers, many of which are made with creatures like ostrich and wild boar.  Not my cup of tea.  Or so I thought.  They actually have an incredibly impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan options.  Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re not gonna get a plate of steamed rice and raw veggies.  Almost everything on the menu is decadent.  For example, the macaroni and cheese I ordered, pictured to the right, was ridiculous, even by my standards.  Already a cheesy mess, it was topped with a slab of Velveeta-like cheese that I definitely could have done without.  Overall, though, this place rocks.  There is absolutely something for everybody.  In summary, go Bengals.