Taps: 24 / Bottles: 150
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 51 | Reviews: 38 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by OutsidersAlmanac:
4.05/5 rDev -6.3%
vibe: 1 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
I've been to Bad Apple twice now. The first was, speaking frankly, a pretty disappointing experience.
Bad Apple is clearly not a bar. It has a bar, but it is definitely a restaurant with a bar in it. When you walk in the front door the first thing you see is a bar - low hanging red globed lights, an exposed brick wall and several flatscreen tvs - opposite the bar is about a half-dozen high-sitting tables with stools. They've worked the hardest on this first of three rooms. It's clean, modern, and trying a bit too hard. The room seems to be designed to reflect well off shiny shirts and waxed chests. Not my cup of macho, but it is forgivable.
Unfortunately, the other rooms - the back room and a side game room - have been given much less consideration. Strange layout and cheap furniture force you to take a second look at the front room undoing the rather thin veneer of pretense and paint that may have first fooled you. Bad Apple is just not a warm place, it looks like it might have been decorated by a forty-something day trader redecorating his "man cave" after a divorce. No personality, but a tangible, uncomfortable ache to be liked. But by who?
Our interaction with the staff on our first visit was pretty negative, too. Two of the three people we interacted with were rude even as we went out of our way to be friendly. Fortunately, last night, on my second visit, our waiter was much different. Friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable he helped make me want to repeat our experience.
The music has been pretty terrible both times I've been in there. After enjoying our beers for about 20 minutes last night all the sudden the pretty crummy sound system in the game room started blatting out the Austin Powers theme song - no shit. The rest of the night was a mix of 80's and dub. With the vibe they seem to be going for they should consider hiring a DJ to spin some tasteful, down-tempo beats and help them out with their paper-thin monitors.
The upswing of Bad Apple? Two things. They've got a great beer selection. Last night they had Left Hand Milk-Stout, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, Two Brother's Heavy Handed, Founder's exceptional IPA, Goose Island's Matilda, Half Acre's Daisy Cutter, Karmaleit Triple, New Holland's Really Delicious and Surprising Charkoota Ale, One of New Belgium's Lips of Faith series, and several others I can't recall. They had Surly Cynic the first visit there, but, even without Cynic last night, they had their bases well covered. Bad Apple offers a beer menu with all of their beers well described with region, tastes, and ABV listed.
The other upswing? The food we had was amazing. We started with their Montreal Poutine. As far as I know there is only one other establishment in Chicago where you can get Poutine, Small Bar. Small Bar serves their Poutine with sausage gravy. It's an amazing twist on the classic dish, I was curious to see if Bad Apple would follow that lead or go the traditional brown gravy path. I was happy to discover Bad Apple went with the brown gravy, and it was an amazing brown gravy. Seriously, it was so good my we sat there rubbing our fingers through the remaining gravy doing brown gravy nummies until the waiter came and took the smudged plate away. It goes exceptionally well with the Charkoota Rye.
We also took the strong recommendation from our waiter and had the Slow Burn burger. Chili peppers and garlic sauteed throughout the day on top a bacon and white chedder hand packed patty and cooked to order. The bun and burger literally melted in my mouth and, coupled with the delicious pepper saute, covered my mouth in a subtle, but thorough coat of easy warmth that hung around several minutes after each delicious bite. Masterfully made to have heat, but deliver it gently over time and with surprising sustain, dip this wonderful little beast in a just a dab of the table mustard and sit back and let your taste buds coo. Kudo's to our server for recognizing the brilliance of this burger and being able to read his guest's well enough to recommend it.
We also got our hand cut fries covered in truffle oil. It's like an extra $.75 or something menial, but the deep flavor of the truffle just pops on the crispy fries and is an ideal compliment to the burger.
Chicago's Bad Apple, is not without it's flaws, but it's upswing makes passable the bummer atmosphere. If they could get their aesthetic a bit warmer, find comfort in a personality, and lose that offensively dumb apple with the mohawk they could have a really fantastic place. Until then, I will be visiting again to try the goat cheese fondue and their Ebel Weiss ham and swiss, but if they could get their comfort level up they might not ever be able to get me to leave.
Oh, hey, guys, get a freaking website too, eh?
10-14-2009 16:32:43 | More by OutsidersAlmanac
More User Reviews:
5/5 rDev +15.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
One of my favorites places. Always a fun time. Right across the street from Half Acre is case you want to double your fun.
Great burgers and awesome beer selection on draft and in bottles.
Staff is always friendly and helpful
02-03-2014 22:54:06 | More by dman127
Bad Apple in Chicago, IL
95 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.