After a few nights and fancier dinners, one of my co-workers and I decided that since we had a free evening, we would go find something nice and simple for dinner. We headed out into the blustery Chicago evening figuring we would be able to stumble upon something near our hotel that fit the bill. Unfortunately after about 10 minutes we were still standing out in the cold trying to figure out where to go. So, I pulled out my phone, and looked up a couple places I had seen earlier. To our surprise, the Exchequer Pub was only a block and a half away from where we were currently freezing, so we headed that direction. The reason I say “surprise” is because we had walked past Wabash Ave., looked down the street, and didn’t see anything. But approaching from the north now, we were greeted by the awning and the warmth from within.
Exchequer was exactly what we were looking for; a no-frills sports bar. There were wooden chairs and wooden tables, big screen TVs showing hockey and basketball, low, almost dark lighting, and just kind of an old school feel to the entire place. I ordered a local brew to drink, and took a look at the menu. There were lots of notes for famous ribs and famous pizza, but I had my mind set on a burger. See, the reason I knew about Exchequer is earlier I had looked up the best burger places in the Loop and the Exchequer Pub was rated #3. So, I decided to go simple and ordered the Big Ben (3/4 pound buger) with American cheese on a Bakery roll. I would have gone for the regular half pound burger, but apparently it was a special night where the Big Ben was the same price, so I just went with it.
When the burger came out, it was huuuge! Bigger than I expected. In fact it took two pieces of cheese to cover it. I took the top, took off a piece of lettuce (seriously, more than 1 piece of iceberg lettuce is too much…it just takes up space and adds nothing) and stuck it on top of the massive burger. No adding ketchup or anything like that…seriously…it’s an insult to hamburgers…don’t do it…ever! (Ok, let me clarify…if you are going to a place that has a good burger, don’t ever add ketchup…if you are going to a ski lodge with the frozen patty du jour, add whatever you need to in order to get some flavor). I cut it in half and took a bite. The flavor was good. It was a bit juicy and the beef was definitely the star. It helps that there was a lot of it, but also that there wasn’t anything to detract from it.
I ended up polishing off the entire burger and the fries, and left feeling pretty pleased. It was exactly what I was looking for that evening. Was it the best burger I’ve ever had? Naw, not really. It was a little over cooked for my tastes, though it did retain good juiciness and flavor. The fries were good, though nothing super special (I’d guess that they aren’t hand cut in the back). It was simply a good burger in a good environment. If you wanted a place with an amazing hamburger, I probably wouldn’t recommend Exchequer. But if you wanted a place that in the loop where you can get a cold beer, good burger, and have a relaxed environment, then I would definitely say that Exchequer is worth checking out.