One of the most memorable restaurants that I had visited in Chicago was Au Cheval, a retro diner style American restaurant where I tasted absolutely delicious (although probably not too healthy) dishes such as potato hash with duck heart gravy. What I didn’t realize during that visit about six years ago was that Au Chevalsupposedly has one of the best burgers in the city of Chicago, if not the entire country. The same team behind the restaurant established a footprint in New York City a couple years ago with an impossible-to-get-into steakhouse 4 Charles Prime Rib; my wife Jun and I did try the burger there but agreed that we had had better burgers elsewhere in the city (see my review here https://kenscale.com/2017/04/30/4-charles-prime-rib/). Fast forward to 2019, and Au Cheval announced that it would open a second location in Manhattan. When Jun and I were looking for a casual dinner on a Friday and she told me that she has a craving for a burger, I suggested AuCheval. Since it was probably likely the restaurant would be insanely packed thanks to its popularity from Chicago, we met early around 5 p.m., thinking we will have a drink or two before moving to the food. We still ended up getting seated at the very edge of the counter, while the dining space was already nearly full. At the end of our meal, though, Jun and I were glad we made the trip to the restaurant.
The menu at Au Cheval NYC doesn’t seem that much different from what I remember about its Chicago counterpart. Most of the dishes take modern spins on classic American dishes, and other than the salad you probably will feel guilty after eating them. The health consideration usually doesn’t stop Jun or I from trying out the best dishes on the menu (after all, Jun cooks pretty healthy meals at home on weekdays). Was the burger as good as advertised? In New York City, there are simply so many outstanding burger restaurants so it’s hard to find one that truly sets it apart, but I have to say Au Cheval is pretty close to accomplishing that goal. We added egg and bacon on top of the patty, and the burger was an absolute stunner with juicy texture and surprisingly well-balanced flavor. There have been some mixed reviews among professional critics about the quality of burgers at Au Cheval which I couldn’t quite understand. Pound for pound, this was one of the best burgers in the city that Jun declared she would gladly come back again for whenever she has a craving for burger and Shake Shack wouldn’t satisfy it. The other star during our meal, however, was a surprise. Jun and I did have a life-changing bologna sandwich before (Exhibit A: our trip to New Orleans linked here https://kenscale.com/2017/12/26/turkey-and-the-wolf/) but still it’s not one of those items on the menu that jumps at you immediately. Well, if you are fortunate to grab a seat at Au Cheval, make sure you get the bologna sandwich. It was pure decadence, with the impeccable texture of meat and cheese that just melts in your mouth! Add a side of crispy fries with fried farm egg on top, accompanied by Mornay sauce and garlic aioli, to complement your main dishes and you have a winning formula at the restaurant.
As noted above, Au Cheval is currently one of the hottest spots in New York dining scene, so if you don’t want to book online for one of the few seats offered on Resy, try to come by early for stools at the counter. Au Cheval is also famed for its expressive cocktail list so I do recommend getting one or two (preferably with stronger liquor such as bourbon or rye) to wash down all the food you will be immensely enjoying. The ambiance at Au Cheval NYC is pretty similar to the original location in Chicago; it is somewhat chaotic but still fun and energetic, making it ideal for casual dates and get-togethers with friends. I’m really glad that Au Cheval has decided to expand to the Big Apple and will certainly visit again the near future to try other dishes from the menu. I believe it is a pretty strong endorsement if Jun thinks this is one of the best burger restaurants in the city already.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 33 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013