Day 9: Upscale burger at Hot Chocolate

29 Jul

So, the plan was to try the foie gras burger special at Sweets & Savories, which is on special for $10 Wednesday nights. There weren’t any reservations available this morning, but I figured if I went early enough I could at least wait for a table, you know, like at a normal restaurant. Nope. They were all booked and couldn’t possibly take anyone else.

“But…what if a reservation doesn’t show up? Could we take that table?”

No, no, no. Something about having only one chef and not enough food.

I deployed my dinner date, who is much cuter, and more importantly, finagles her way into exclusive places for a living (she’s the host/producer of a show called Chicago Revealed, after all), but still no dice. Now, I admit I’ve never worked in the food industry, but I did have to manage guest lists for events, and really, there are far more diplomatic ways to handle this kind of situation. Like, just lie and say you’ll put us on a list, and see if we bother to come back. Because this way, you just look like a jerk, and so does the restaurant by extension. And, to the management? If you’re going to issue a Groupon, maybe you should anticipate a higher volume, and staff accordingly, especially after the first two months of being full to capacity.

Now we were really in the mood for burgers, and I didn’t feel like having a pub burger, especially since we were both a little dressed up. (I even put on makeup!) Since my date, Katie, had never been to Hot Chocolate, and it was on my list, we headed that way. And got seats. Without waiting. Which they would have let us, if we had to. 

I hadn’t been to Hot Chocolate in a few years (?), but the burger is one of the things (actually, the only thing…besides the hot chocolate, of course) that I remember. They had an upscale burger before it got trendy and everyone was offering Kobe with truffle aioli and housemade giardinera and whatnot. 

Aren’t the mini condiment bottles darling?

It was as good as I remembered. It comes topped with bacon and cheddar; the egg is extra, but totally worth it. The patty is so well-seasoned and flavorful that it doesn’t really need much else. They use Heartland beef, which is Piedmontese, a breed that allegedly is leaner and more flavorful than standard American beef. As you might expect from a restaurant helmed by a pastry chef, the bun is spectacular, kind of a garlic-and-sesame studded pretzel roll. Totally hit my burger spot.

You can’t go to a place called Hot Chocolate without ordering dessert:

Ice cream is “housemade,” of course. The clear winner of the night was the sweet corn (far left), followed by the chocolate chip cookie garnish. The rest of the flavors (from left to right): brown butter sour cream (which needed a pie garnish), plum (more tart than I expected, but in a good, refreshing way), and banana chocolate chip marshmallow (the biggest letdown of the bunch — not enough marshmallow). 

I’m still going to attempt S&S next week, but they’re really going to have to bring it to stack up to this burger. (So to speak.) I’m not sure if foie and truffles are enough. 

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