I’ve had this Living Social deal for quite a while, so prior to the Michael Jackson Cirque show, hubs and I made our way to Chef Mike’s for (what we anticipated to be) a quick bite. I’ve heard about the place, but not much besides where it was located and that they (obviously) use a charcoal grill for the menu.
When walking in, you walk into a small space with two hallways leading in the opposite direction. One door was labeled for a private party, so we went into the ‘bar’ side. As we walked down the hall, we were abruptly stopped by the hostess. She awkwardly informed us she would seat us and then walked back down the hall to grab menus, then disappeared. She ended up circling the restaurant (from the opposite side) and aggressively saying “I thought you were following me?” An awkward layout with an equally awkward greeting.
We ended up in a booth down the right hallway, which then in return had me sitting with my jacket on the whole meal due to the cold draft that came up from the front door. The atmosphere was extremely casual, a family friendly bar of booths and tables lining the wall to the medium sized bar. I didn’t make my way back there, but hubs informed after he had used the restroom that there was a large room on what I perceived to be the ‘other side’ of the restaurant (where the private party was). He said it was open and nicely laid out, though not really private for the group that was there.
After 10 minutes or so of waiting, our server approached in a slightly rushed manner. The private party was about to put in their order, so she encouraged us to order right away to beat that rush. I appreciated the gesture, and was lucky to have had those 10 minutes to decide what I wanted. We ordered a crock of the apple onion soup to share and each a burger. A few minutes later, she came by with our drinks and we began to wait for our meal. And then we waited some more. Confusion set in when a family of 6 were given there meal prior to us, though they came in after we did. At this point, time was ticking away. Time we didn’t have to be forgotten as we had to leave for downtown. At this point, I thought my soup was a lost cause, but she finally showed up with it, which is when we then asked to have our check delivered with our food to help save on time.
The soup was smokey. Not just the apples and onions, but the broth and cheese seemed almost like it was infused with charcoal smoke. Both hubs and I assumed it had been sitting in the smoke right at the end to finish it off with that flavor. But it was overwhelming – and I should have stirred it up because as we approached the end of the crock, it wasn’t smokey at all. The onions and apples were tender and slightly sweet, with a rich and subtly smokey beef broth. It was a good cup of soup, something different and unexpected.
During our soup eating, the time continued to tick down to 10 minutes until we had to go. She refilled my soda at one point, and we had to unfortunately ask for our food to go. It came out about 5 minutes after in to go containers. I was trying to finish the soup, so hubs started on his burger. He raved between bites, liking the taste and texture of the burger, while I worked on paying our bill. My burger looked great, but it was missing the tomato, lettuce and pickle. The bun looked and tasted fresh with a slight charcoal char. It was thick enough to uphold the juicy chive and bourbon burger with jalapeno havarti cheese. As I ate it (in the car), I really enjoyed the charcoal taste that I love with burgers. It wasn’t overwhelming like the soup, but definitely lingered after every bite. The chives provided a crunchy texture and subtle onion flavor with every bite, but I couldn’t get any bourbon taste out of the mix. I’m not quite sure why I ordered havariti – it is great for melted cheese, but so mild in taste and the anticipated spice was non-existent. The burger itself was very good – I didn’t need the cheese or the missing toppings to know that I liked the flavor. My side were potato skins – which were really deep fried potato slices. They were different and good despite being pretty greasy, I enjoyed seeing a side that I hadn’t seen before.
I clearly thought just over one hour would have been enough time for this meal. Maybe without a large group and busy server, we could have. But I think that our order may have been delayed or forgotten. The service wasn’t very apologetic, not that she was rude either, just slightly uncomfortable as she knew we weren’t very happy about it all. To add onto the annoyance, we didn’t even get the right amount off our bill from our Living Social deal. It was $20 worth of food and our server ended up only discounting us $15, but I didn’t have the time to argue the bill as we were grabbing our to-go boxes and running to the car. Despite all of the setbacks, the burgers were great. And overall, we did make it to our show on time due to inhaling our burgers in the car. I’d go back, but I would also ensure that I didn’t have a place I had to be afterwards.