Whenever my boyfriend is in town, I like to plan at least one semi-fancy lunch/dinner (even though we aren’t very fancy people).
When he was here last, we ended up at Cochon Volant, Chicago’s newest French bistro and claim to burger fame. My original plan was to go to Au Cheval, but ever since its burger was named “best in the nation” by both the Food Network and Bon Appetit magazine, the waits have been around three hours, and I have a very impatient boyfriend.
Cochon Volant (100 W. Monroe St.) opened late last spring on the bottom floor of the Hyatt hotel, just a few blocks west of the Monroe Red Line stop.
The décor is unique, with elaborate metal decorations and light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. At lunch time, the space was filled with important-looking people in suits, but I didn’t feel out of place in more casual attire.
One thing that struck me as odd and a bit annoying was that the lunch and dinner menus were the same. I would think that a restaurant in the Loop that has a lot of power lunches would offer smaller portions for cheaper prices during lunch hours.
I would never complain about large portions, but the prices were a bit steep for lunch, making it one of my “treat yo-self” spots instead of a regular joint.
The service was a bit slow at times, but you would still be able to make it out in time for a one-hour lunch break. When our waitress did appear, however, she was polite and helpful.
I, of course, had to try the acclaimed Le Cheeseburger Royale ($16.95), while my boyfriend got the prime beef dip ($15.95), one of the five French dip sandwiches on the menu. All of the sandwiches come with house-cut fries on the side.
Then we played the waiting game. The wait for our food probably wasn’t that long, but it seemed like forever because I had been dreaming about this cheeseburger for at least two weeks.
When it finally arrived on its own little perfectly sized plate, it was everything I had imagined. The prime dry-aged beef was cooked and seasoned well, and the American cheese was melted to perfection. The “crispy” bacon was actually thick-cut and more chewy than crispy, but it still added even more decadence to the already rich burger. The confit onion (which basically means the onions were cooked in fat) added a nice sweetness that was cut by the tang of the pickles.
My only complaint (besides wanting slightly crispier bacon), was that the dijonnaise, which is supposed to be a mixture of dijon mustard and mayonnaise, was more mayo than dijon, so it didn’t have as much flavor as I expected.
My boyfriend’s sandwich was also good but a bit bland. I didn’t taste any of the confit onion or horseradish sauce that was suppose to come on it, but to be fair, I only had one bite.
As much as I liked the burger, I loved the fries even more. They were crispy and garlic-y, and I loved the mayonnaise dipping sauce. I would go back for the fries alone.
We shared the bread pudding ($8) for dessert. The portion was small (although I had only finished half my burger and was full, so that was probably a good thing) and it had more of a muffin texture than custardy pudding, but the flavor was still good. Next time, I would skip the plated dessert and just get a pastry or cookie from the bakery counter.
Verdict: With a fancy name and busy location come high prices, which might put Cochon Volant out of many college students’ radars, but the food and atmosphere make it worth the price. Go there with your family or a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Get the burger, fall in love with the fries and grab a cookie on your way out.