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Byron's inches upscale


Restaurants & Bars 2

Byron's inches upscale

Bob S. | Nov 3, 2003 10:22 PM

Decided that I neither wanted to make dinner nor spend more than a few bucks on it, which is usually how I rationalize the short walk to Byron's on Lawrence at Paulina.I actually stood for a few moments when I walked in: A hand-lettered sign offered me a half-pound Black Angus steakburger. $3.95 for just the burger, $5.95 for that and cole slaw, fries, and bottomless soda.I'd had a hot dog craving when I left my apartment, but in the two or three minutes it took for me to finish assimilating the sign, I was swayed and ordered the full combo.I then moved up near the register and found that ordering the Black Angus steakburger privileged you to the closest Byron's comes to table service: The cashier/cook asked what I wanted on the burger, took my money, and told me to take a seat, and he'd call me in when my dinner was ready.Once I reached the register, however, I got my final surprise, and perhaps a truer sign of Byron's aspirations:The Byron's Gift Card.They have now entered the same lofty realm as Starbucks and Lettuce Entertain You. Activated at the register, you can apparently put as little or as much as you'd like on the card. My head swirling as it tried to accommodate this new world, I didn't think to ask. But presumably you could just put a buck or two on for the occasional soda or instead load it up so that, with the next family reunion in town, you could treat everyone to Black Angus steakburgers in the inevitable private function room.The steakburger was thin enough that I can't quite picture it weighing a full half-pound before cooking (perhaps next time I'll sneak in my small electronic kitchen scale), and of course was served somewhere in the uncharted dimensions beyond well-done. But that actually gave it a flavor that the rare Black Angus burger at the Corner Grille in Andersonville didn't have; I'm happier with a rare burger, for sure, but I wish the Corner Grille could get a good sear. I didn't try the cole slaw; the fries were fine but not outstanding; the mix of 2/3 Sierra Mist lemon-lime soda and 1/3 unbranded pink lemonade provided a refreshing tartness. I'm curious whether the other Byron's outlets have also started to scale the culinary heights as this one has.

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