Au Cheval: Eclectic mix on the menu

April 25, 2012 9:40:32 AM PDT
Parents who have kids in their teens know it's important a restaurant be as cool as the food is good. That's exactly what they'll find at Au Cheval.

Au Cheval is the latest restaurant from the group behind Gilt Bar and Maude's. ABC7's Hungry Hound took his kids, Madeline and Max, and they were happy to spot a little something for everyone on the menu.

"It's an eclectic mix on the menu. We've got some Asian dishes, Jewish dishes. Just an experimental but all of it in the vein of accessibility," said Chef Sam Engelhardt.

"I really think that when you come here, you can really have a kind of diverse experience in food," said Madeline.

No question. The diner is doing some serious cooking. Chihuahua cheese meets a creamy bechamel sauce in the fondue, which gets crowned with an egg for good measure.

"It's kind of a takeoff of the Croque Madame sandwich. But juxtaposed, switched around a little bit. That was the idea with that one," said Engelhardt.

As for that fried chicken, its seasoning will rotate. When we first ate it, it was Chinese. On this visit, the honey, soy, ginger and gojujang chili paste turned it more Korean.

"The Korean fried chicken definitely. Very surprising I thought it was going to be more of a kind of spicy, like maybe sweet. But it took me a whole different way. More like a savory, kind of still spicy. Amazing quality," said Max.

Then there is the burger. Definitely in the Hound's top five in Chicago. The single burger is actually two Angus patties; a double burger comes with three. A mustard-mayo dijonaise with chopped red onions and homemade pickles doesn't hurt either.

"We use a sharp American cheese, so that you're never going to match the melting capabilities of like a pasteurized cheese like that or a processed cheese like that. So, that's a big part of the textural element," Engelhardt said.

"Who doesn't like a hamburger that's meaty and saucy and has a great bun? All good things," said Max.

Both kids say they'd take their friends here, even if they tend to have more, well, simple tastes.

"You know me, I'm a more adventurous eater than my friends, but I think they would really enjoy it," Madeline said.

"First thing-- food for a restaurant. Next thing?music, always a good thing," said Max. "Really alternative, good choices and a lot of local bands, I think. It's just very creative and I think that a very good thing to have in a restaurant."

There's so much more on the menu: a fried bologna sandwich, griddled bratwurst with smashed potatoes and even a foie gras terrine. Plus, the cocktails are great.

Au Cheval
800 W. Randolph

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