The Burgers of Chi
I cant tell you how many times in my life I stopped at the intersection of Wrightwood and Webster and glanced over at the old John's Place and asked "How does that spot stay busy?" Especially in the summertime when it was pretty much always packed and it wasn't hard to figure out why. It's where every mom with kids in the neighborhood seemed to go, and there's lots of them. At some point last year John, the owner of John's Place closed down the popular Lincoln Park playpen and came back with a vengeance in White Oak Tavern & Inn. With it a new kind of clientele comes thru.
Newly Opened in Lincoln Park
The about us section of the White Oak Website tells us that they are "Driven by the seasons and our local farmers, White Oak Tavern is a community minded tavern featuring sophisticated food & drink in a rustic yet elegant setting." Chef John Asbaty brings a stint with the world famous Grant Achatz whom he worked with at Trio Restaurant in Evanston, and then as a team member of Alinea in 2005. He's worked on other city project's such as Panozzo’s Italian Market. He now brings his cooking skills to Lincoln Park and with him come quality local ingredients from the region. The inside of the space is really nice and much more open. The bar features locals brews and cocktails.
a peek inside
I was already very interested in checking this place out when I first heard the news John's Place was redeveloping as something completely different. I became even more intrigued when some friends in the foodsphere tweeted praise upon the burger. A picture posted over on LTHforum with a description about it being a simple style with not too many ingredients trying to outshine each other called my name. I'm all about simplicity in burgers especially when it comes to a designer style burger which would be what I call any of the ones featured at chef driven restaurants that come with a double digit pricetag. White Oak's rings in at $15 for just the burger and it's worth it. Live a little.
Simple and Succulent. This is what burgers were meant to be.The star of the show is the beef which came cooked to a perfect medium rare. I believe it comes from Kilgus Farms but the menu doesn't mention it, just a list of places they work with. The toppings were on point. Housemade pickles were perfection while the addition of pickled red onions is something I'll never be against. Two cheeses, aged cheddar and butterkase, work in perfect harmony and neither the smoked chili ketchup or aioli took away too much of the beef flavor. All this on a wonderful house baked bun studded with sesame seeds. It just might be the best designer burger in the city. I look forward to exploring more on offer.
White Oak Tavern & Inn
1200 W Webster Ave
Chicago, IL 60614