My Fair Eating: A Food Critique of Au Cheval

By Jonathan Park '15

Boothies, there is a new way to spell delicious and it is A-U-C-H-E-V-A-L. This past summer I was finally able to eat at the West Loop/Randolph Street restaurant Au Cheval with a Boothie and his wife after trying not once, not twice, but as quoted by C. Montgomery Burns, “thrice!” And even on the third attempt we had to wait three hours. The décor of the place was dark and dank. I can see why we had to wait—the place is tiny. Imagine a Silver Diner, but remove 2/3 of the building. What they lack in space, they make up for in taste.

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Now normally I am a relatively healthy eater whose meals consist of terribly nutritious vegetables and fruits, but I decided to forgo my disciplined eating because it was a special occasion. My Boothie friend was graduating and going to a job where I presumed he would be doing complicated financial model dances, resulting in money raining from the heavens, while I endure another six months of looking for loose change to help pay my tuition. Anyways, after carefully developing a framework to analyze the menu, we basically just ordered what the extremely knowledgeable waitress recommended: the double cheeseburger with a fried egg (because supposedly Au Cheval has the best burger in Chicago); the crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy; and that night’s special of General Tso chicken wings. Friends, let me tell you– it was insane-in-the-membrane good.

The burger was super fatty and tender. The oils from the burger drizzled down my chin like raindrops rolling down a leaf on a cool autumn morning. I am not sure what cheese they used, but I am sure it started with the word “AWESOME,” as in “AWESOME gorgonzola.” The egg created a party in my mouth where everyone was invited. It was the best burger I’ve ever had in Chicago. The crispiness of the hash was just right, and the gravy complemented the duck heart the way sriracha complements everything. I had never had duck heart before, but covering it in gravy was, well…gravy. And every time I bit into the wings, it felt like fireworks were shooting out of my head and Patti LaBelle was singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The General Tso glaze was the perfect level of spiciness and sweetness. And underneath the delightful skin was a perfectly moist chicken. It was like a Boothie unwrapping a Christmas gift and finding the macroeconomics textbook that he or she wanted. Eating all of this rich food may have shut down an artery, but it made me thankful that I was born with tastebuds versus being born a houseplant. I am not sure when I will be able to eat at Au Cheval again, but everytime the wind blows, or anytime I smell highly fatty meat, I will think of the words, “Au Cheval.” Now back to my vegetables and looking for loose change.