‘Ello everyone! Welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues. I am currently writing this while rocking a food baby to sleep on this cold November evening. Even though I may have had a bit of a rough day today, I still managed to have a dinner that chased away the blues and the cool weather. I ended up going out to a British gastropub called Chequers located at 100 West Burlington Avenue La Grange, IL 60525.
At first I had looked up some reviews on Yelp to see what exactly I should expect from this restaurant, and I did not see many good comments. Now, I did take these reviews with a grain of salt since some foodies out there are quite demanding of establishments, and the British aren’t known for their culinary prowess. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Upon walking through the doors, I was greeted with a beefeater cutout and plenty of kitschy 19th century pictures of England and advertisements for travel, beer, and stereopticons(well, maybe not that last one). The service was very prompt, and the actual interior was quite cozy for a winter night. To drink, I went with a Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale since it was on special, and I do love my pumpkin flavored items aside from the pumpkin lattes or whatever they are at Starbucks.
I know I’m going to get a lot of hate mail from that statement, but c’est la vie. Anyway, the actual beer was quite tasty. It had an orange amber hue that embodied a light, spicy flavor with a slight pumpkin aftertaste with every sip. It provided a classy undertone to the overtures of our larger than life appetizers: onion rings and Welsh rarebit.
The former was pretty straight forward in terms of presentation since there are only so many ways one can cut up onions and fry them. However, these rings were literally big enough to be worn as bracelets. Even though these monstrous rings could serve as earrings for Shaq, their taste was equally large. The breading was crisp and buttery and thankfully not very greasy. The accompanying sauce was a tasty spicy ranch with a horseradish and black pepper foundation. With the latter appetizer, the Welsh rarebit, I have always wondered of what it consisted? For the longest time, I would think that it involved rabbit meat in some form since “rarebit” looks similar when glanced at very quickly. However, I would cross off another food on my bucket list since I found out that it is the rough English equivalent of fondue sans the forks and mini-pot of cheese. Instead, it is a small casserole dish of melted Cotswold cheese (the very same that people chase in the Cotswold Games), stout, mustard, and Cayenne pepper. This spread was then supposed to be eaten on the toast points provided with the dish, and the bread was a wheat rye that was nicely toasted. The melted cheese was quite smooth and savory, akin to a Gouda, while I could taste the hearty stout mingling with the semi-sweet mustard. ‘Twas good to say that I had it, but I don’t know if I would get it again.
Once we managed to somehow destroy these two appetizers (it was mainly me), I got down to business with my main dish: bangers and mash. Now I know that there are certain Britishisms that make Americans go tee-hee, i.e. fags, bangers, and rubbers (translations: cigarettes, sausages, and erasers), but this meal made my stomach go tee-hee with how delicious it was. First, the sausages were roasted in a stone ground mustard sauce that still had the seeds in it which was a nice rustic touch. Its semi-sweet/acidic yellow mustard taste complimented the pork based sausage perfectly. As for the sides, the mash was smoother than Cool Whip and somehow incredibly buttertastic without having an entire irrigation system of Land O’ Lakes extending slowly across my plate. The steamed vegetables were pretty pedestrian, but they were adequately prepared. It was a hodgepodge of cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots.
By the time we finished, the pumpkin bread pudding for dessert was a long way away in my mind. I had bigger problems to deal with like attempting to maintain consciousness on the border of a food coma. So if you’re looking for a slice of jolly old England with an American twist in regard to portion sizes, cheque out Chequers!