Hey, burger freaks: Were you planning to attend two hours-plus cooling your heels for Au Cheval’s crazypants patty? Hold your horses.
The fabled Chicago eatery — which funds itself as a diner and is French for “by horse” — merely hitched as a lot as 33 Cortlandt Alley after a yr of hype. The Windy City has swooned over chef/proprietor Brendan Sodikoff’s Au Cheval for seven years. His burger’s been often known as America’s biggest.
Maybe it was as quickly as. The NYC location does serve tasty burgers — nonetheless this metropolis’s crammed with tasty burgers that don’t worth you half a day. And tastier burgers that don’t worth $17 and up, sooner than $8 fries.
Make no mistake: Au Cheval is worth a go to, ideally at lunch when there’s little or no wait. It brings welcome life to the moody alley, with its Industrial-era-cool Edison bulbs, leather-based banquettes and century-old pillars that scream “Tribeca.”
The flooring crew uncover your every request “perfect,” your meal selections “a good plan.” Greeters cheerfully take your determine, estimate the wait time and title your cellphone when your desk’s just about ready. Fun actuality: I seen no sidewalk strains, even at night, no matter breathless sightings on-line.
The menu has fat-and-salt-rich gut-busters resembling honey-fried hen, which had one couple repeatedly demanding substitute cloth napkins, and a fried baloney sandwich that seems like a nuclear mushroom cloud. “I don’t know where to start,” talked about the person subsequent to me, who wolfed up your entire meshugana mess in 10 minutes.
But 90 % of customers order burgers, in keeping with a waitress. I appreciated one very like Au Cheval’s at Sodikoff’s 4 Charles Prime Rib two years up to now, so I had extreme expectations.
“It’s absolutely worth it — the burgers are fantastic, fantastic,” a fellow diner reassured me on Monday night, after I used to be suggested a desk for 4 might be free in 90 minutes. The man, who was there alongside together with his girlfriend, talked about they’d waited for 3 hours the night sooner than, although he couldn’t articulate what made the sandwiches so explicit.
But — big reveal! — this world-famous, tell-all-your-friends burger’s additional routine than revolutionary. It was doubly disappointing at lunch, after I waited zero minutes to be seated nonetheless 30 minutes for the meals. The open kitchen was backed up with empty buns awaiting their title to movement.
The “single cheeseburger” ($17) really comprises two griddled, Angus beef patties on a brioche bun with American cheese, pickles and a thick dijonnaise smear. (A $19 “double cheeseburger” has three patties.)
The cheese was flavorless, the pickles too skinny in order so as to add crunch. The dijonnaise “kind of brings it all together,” the waitress claimed. But it was all “aise” — the sweet, cloying, principally mayo goo made it unimaginable to type the meat with out taking your entire enchilada apart.
Once liberated, three completely completely different burgers I tried on two visits had been pleasantly chewy nonetheless solely middling-flavored by as we converse’s earthy, artisanal-ground necessities. Cooked medium by default, they’d been too dry to ooze even a drop of juice. (They’ll take it to medium-well, nonetheless you proceed at your peril.) A bit crackle would help nonetheless they’d no char to speak of.
The basic “single” is easy to eat alongside together with your fingers nonetheless not whenever you’ve gotten it with bacon ($4 additional and worth it for thick, peppery slabs) and fried egg ($2) — the climate slide throughout the buns like eels.
Best in America? For my money, it isn’t even the easiest in Tribeca. I would like these at Odeon, American Cut — and even these at no-frills Square Diner, the place you get an oozy, principally ground-chuck half-pounder for $9 with no wait the least bit.
A French couple strolling earlier, taken by the determine on the sign, requested me what kind of place it was. They moved on after I suggested them it was principally hamburgers. But I must have suggested them about Square Diner.