Classically trained chefs open burger restaurants. As sign of the times, one suspects, and capitalizing on an “American craze” the past few years. I don’t know what started the current infatuation with burgers, tho I thought personally it was a reflection of the economic downturn – people still wanted to go out for beef, but steaks had become a little dear on menus.
In any regard, chef Crisitano Bassani, of the classic Italian Bapi Restaurant in suburban Chicago, got bit by the burger bug and opened “Big Chef” in Schaumburg. It’s kind of tough to spot, set back in a strip mall, but if you’re heading east on Alqonquin and you hit Meachem, you’ve just missed it.
I was on my way somewhere else and the sign caught the corner of my eye, I made a quick uey into the parking lot and walked in. Mid afternoon, Sunday, and the (perhaps) 60 seat eatery had one other table of four occupied, and a table of about ten young men who were just finishing up.
Unlike most new fangled burger restaurants these days, Big Chef has table service and linens. A server brought a large bottle of water, a tall glass of ice, and the menu (how did they know about me and the water thing?).
The menu offers a number of interesting combination burgers (around $12 with one side), brick oven pizzas, and huge salads. There is a full bar, with about ten stools in front of it, and an open kitchen design with a bar and stools facing it, as well.
Every day there is a special deal for extended hours, whereas any burger, salad, or pizza is $8.99.
I went with the bacon burger, which comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and a well-melted spicy cheddar (don’t you hate it when there’s a slice of cold, unmelted cheese slapped on a burger – I sure do!). You have choice of buns from white, pretzel, onion, or wheat. Patties are a half pound of fresh ground hormone free angus. Side choices are fries, sweet potato fries, house made chips, rings, mashed or slaw.
The meat came as ordered (medium rare) accompanied by massive onion rings, with a light “panko-like/herb) coating, very crispy. I opted for the pretzel roll, which is almost always my favorite, but the results can be good or bad, depending on the recipe. Some pretzel roll doughs are laden with molasses, and it’s too sweet a bun for a savory burger, in my opinion.
The patty itself was very flavorful, and the vegetables fresh and crisp. I didn’t feel the need to salt either the meat or rings, which is unusual for me.
I recommend your try Big Chef. Desserts and ice cream concoctions also available. Full menu.