Solid Pub Burgers at Goose Island in Wrigleyville
Goose Island Brewpub (Wrigleyville)
3535 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657 (map); 773-832-9040; gooseisland.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Delicious and solid pub burgers.
Price: Poutine, $9; Black Earth Burger, $12, BBQ Burger, $12; Stilton Burger, $12
Goose Island is a hugely popular brewery here in Chicago, but for those of you who aren't from around here, you might not know that both of their pubs sell food. You know, the stuff you need to soak up the alcohol from the marathon beer-drinking you'll be doing when you visit. Mmm, beer. Mmm, food.
There are two locations—one on Clybourn in Lincoln Park, and one in Wrigleyville right down the street from Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Clark Street can easily turn into a shitshow during the weekend and during game days in the summer, but if you go during the week, you can leisurely enjoy some fantastic beer and munch on some delicious bar food.
I think poutine ($9) is seriously one of the best foods ever. French fries (hell yes), cheese curds (double-hell yes), and gravy (or like I like to call it, "Grandpa's old cough medicine") are three of the greatest foods you can put together. Thanks, Canada! Goose Island's is absolutely delicious. The fries are cooked to a deep golden brown, topped with Wisconsin white cheddar cheese curds, and doused in ladles of brown gravy. One of the differences at Goose Island is that they broil the whole plate, resulting in blistered and melted cheese curds, but the curds still manage to retain a bit of squeak even though they're molten. The whole mess is salty, soggy, and savory, and perfect with an adult malt soda (beer).
And what's a good pub without a burger? The Black Earth Burger ($12) is my favorite, with a bit of a cheffy spin. The grilled, eight-ounce prime beef patty is topped with a goat cheese croquette, sweet onion marmalade, and spinach on a perfectly toasted brioche bun.
I ordered mine medium-rare, and it came out closer to medium-well. Normally that's kind of a dealbreaker for me, but at medium-well the beef is still moist, flavorful, and delicious. The patties are all medium grind, which my personal preference—not too fine, but not too chunky. The goat cheese and sweet onions play well together on the beef, and the spinach adds an iron-like grassy bite to balance out the sweetness of the other toppings.
It's been some years since Goose Island introduced the Stilton Burger ($12) to the menu, but it's still around, so they must be doing something right. The patty is crusted in peppercorn, giving the beef a piercingly spicy bite, while the strong Stilton blue cheese hits a loud funky note. It's also topped with a bunch of roasted garlic cloves, but if you're hanging out at the bar with the bros, they probably won't mind your breath later. Bros, they always understand.
The temperature requested on the beef also came out past medium-rare, but again, it's not a huge problem. The toasted pumpernickel adds an additional earthy bready flavor to an already flavorful burger. If you want to be punched in the tongue with different flavors, then this is the guy for you.
I'm not nearly as wild about the BBQ Burger ($12), topped with Honker's Ale barbecue sauce, bacon, cheddar, and onion strings. It tastes mostly like bacon and a lot of barbecue sauce. If that's your thing, go crazy.
The sides are great, too. The pub chips are crisp and dusted with a powder that tastes like a cross between sweet barbecue and Old Bay seasoning. You get a huge portion of them with your burger and they're good for munching on with a brew.
And the fries? They're solid. I prefer mine with the darker golden color you see there, and they're crisp, satisfyingly browned, and pillowy in the middle with a sturdy potato flavor. These are the same fries used for the poutine that disappeared so quickly earlier.
So if you're looking for a bite in Wrigleyville that's not necessarily jammed with a fist-bumping bro-dawg vibe, Goose Island makes for a good oasis with lots of beer choices and some solid bar food. Just watch out for the Cubbies and weekend-related shenanigans.
About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.