In this grab-and-go world, there’s always a demand for quality food served up quickly. Fast food just doesn’t cut it anymore; diners want to be dazzled, even when they’ve got to eat on the run. Burke’s Bacon Bar, the new casual eatery by Chef David Burke at The James Hotel, delivers on that desire. Based on the much-beloved meaty staple, the Bacon Bar offers a menu focused on “handwiches:” small sandwiches that fit easily in one hand. These convenient bites are perfect for the rush of tourists and businessmen in the River North and Michigan Avenue area.
The menu, curated by Chef Rick Gresh, is a creative collection of bacon-influenced dishes, each featuring the ingredient in sometimes surprising ways. The Angry Reuben, adorably accessible on miniature slices of marbled rye, is loaded with spicy bacon kraut. The River North Bacon Dog makes for one rich and delicious sausage, accompanied by all the proper Chicago dressings and jalapeno-bacon jam to boot.
Unexpected combinations, like the Chilly Willy with shrimp salad, apple, and peppery bacon, prove to be some of the most popular selections, while more classic flavors like the Beef N’ Cheddar make for solid snack. The biggest surprise at a place named for pork is the vegetarian handwich. The Smoked Eggplant Meatball Parmesan is so flavorful and hearty that even the most avid meat-lover would be completely satisfied.
The small size of the handwiches at Burke’s Bacon Bar allows you to mix and match and explore the many options. It’s easy to scarf down three or four of these mini sandwiches, but the wise diner will save room for dessert. Bacon chocolate chip cookies are crispy and delicious, a balanced mix of sweet and savory. However, it’s the soft serve that will really satisfy your sweet tooth. Get it in a flurry with chocolate shavings and whiskey-soaked cherries; to-go food has never been so decadent.