Its summer in Chicago, and that means its time to start working on my beef bod. Joined by a dozen of my close friends (my Taste Buds), I took on The Dawson’s stunning patio to indulge in cocktails and cow.
The menu at The Dawson offers a handful of small plates and a large section dedicated to meats from the wood-fired grill. I should point out that the Dawson’s dining space is expertly curated both inside and out, and they seem determined to recoup their expenses one $15 cocktail at a time. In my capacity as Sultan of Sirloin, I order The Dawson Burger – a single patty topped with “Hook’s 3 Year” cheddar, onion, pickle and dijonnaise nested atop a brioche bun. I also throw on some bacon for the pork lovers out there. The only item from the grill under $27, this burger feels like a steal at $18 a pop (including the $2 bacon tax). Bottom line- although there were plenty of tempting offerings, I’m here on behalf of your average Joe Hamburger, and this menu is a bit rich for my liking.
Rating: 2/5 Extended Lines of Credit
Big, juicy, and cooked to a beautiful medium rare, this is the type of patty I’ve eaten since I was old enough for solid foods. Beef shouldn’t be an afterthought covered up by toppings, and this is a patty that demands centerstage.
Rating: 4/5 Gerber Burger Babies
The toppings on The Dawson Burger were a pleasant surprise. The Three Year Cheddar was the star, the first thing to hit your pallet and the last thing to leave. It reminded me of processed sharp cheddar spread in the best possible way, and paired exceptionally well with the bite from the raw onions. A brioche bun has always been my preferred beef vehicle, and this one was no exception. Will definitely have to come back next year to try the Four Year Cheddar.
Rating: 4/5 Tub Cheese Apologists
These spuds were agreeable, with a pillowy interior and a nice herb blend sprinkled on top. They weren’t as crispy as I’d like, but I’ll forgive that given the size of our party and difficulty getting everything on the table at once. Joined by a sidecar of chipotle aioli, the pairing offered a nice change of pace between bites of beef. These fries weren’t exactly worth writing home about, but I’d at least consider tweeting a #fryalert to @Mom&Dad.
Rating: 3/5 #GoldenStarches
If you’re going to a restaurant to order a burger and nothing else, you could do a lot worse than The Dawson. The flavor and quality of the meat was stellar and the toppings accented it perfectly. The problem here is that the ambiance is pleasant and the cocktail menu inviting, and so you’d have a hard time getting out of here for under $50. It’s a good problem for the Daw$on to have, but a tough lesson learned for a miserly meat minstrel like myself.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Self-funded Food Writers