By Jerry Tranovich
It was a long time ago, 1985, but still fresh in my mind; Mike Ditka led the Chicago Bears to an amazing season and an impressive Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. I remember watching a scrappy Jim McMahon, the legendary Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and a whole cast of great players including “The Fridge,” William Perry, dominate New England in a 46 – 10 trouncing. Iron Mike pays homage to the ’85 Bears and other great sport teams, at Ditka’s, on Chestnut Street in Chicago. Autographed memorabilia on every wall, between every window and on every shelf throughout the restaurant reflects his passion for sports.
The menu was filled with mouth watering appetizers and entrees that I hope to return someday to try, but on this day, I was here on business to check out the burgers.
The lunch menu offered three choices:
- The Patty Melt – American cheese, caramelized onion, seeded rye. $15.95
- The Steakhouse Burger – Cheddar cheese, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, grilled onion, tomato, A1, Mayo, brioche. $16.95
- The “Fridge” Burger – Cheddar cheese, pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, brioche. $15.95
The burgers came with a choice of fresh cut fries, jalapeño coleslaw, fresh fruit, mixed greens salad or Parmesan truffle fries (add $2)
I chose The “Fridge.”
After a very reasonable amount of time, when my burger arrived, the first thing I noticed is that it was a toppings on bottom burger. This was a signal to me that they knew how to assemble a burger. The lettuce and rest of the toppings placed under the patty serves as a barrier between the juices of the burger and the bottom half of the bun. This prevents the sandwich from falling apart similar to the way Jay Hilgenberg and the offensive line kept defenses from sacking #9, Jim McMahon! Other than that, there was really nothing remarkable in the appearance. It was a classic burger with the standard toppings.
However, with the first bite, it was apparent that I had a champion burger! The taste of this classic gem was remarkable! Seasoning – perfect. Temperature – perfect. The chargrilled exterior held the juices in which seemed to make every bite melt in my mouth. It was incredibly delicious.
My only regret, not trying the jalapeño coleslaw. But the nice size order of fresh cut fries was very good.
If you ever find yourself in Chicago with a hankering for a burger, I highly recommend Ditka’s. I was told that Mike was in a meeting but he often mingles with his restaurant patrons. Maybe next time!