500 S. Dearborn St.
Chicago Illinois 60605United States
This sleek, South Loop tavern serves delicious burgers and unique desserts, but with a heavy price tag.
Located in the South Loop, amid a number of chain restaurants, Custom House Tavern has a welcome air of sophistication. This is the kind of restaurant that prides itself in fresh, local and sustainable fare, and prints the origin of the meat and produce proudly on the menu. The Custom House Burger ($14) consists of ground beef, a house-made pickle and Wisconsin cheddar on sourdough brioche. It comes topped with thinly sliced onions, red leaf lettuce and barbecue sauce; crisp-tender house-cut fries are on the side. The burgers were picture-perfect, but the shiny sourdough brioche looked better than it tasted. (We actually ate most of the burger without the bun, because it simply didn't add much.) While the meat was high quality, the salt and anise flavors were a bit much. For dessert, we tried the $10 malted milk doughnuts served with bourbon chocolate pudding, pineapple and hickory nut toffee, which sounded like a dream come true. The doughnuts tasted like brioche, but the batter was a little too sweet. And while the plating was pretty, we had to consult the menu like a map to figure out what was on it. We realized the bitter smudges were the bourbon chocolate pudding, the squiggles pieces of unimpressive pineapple, and the sprinkles droppings of hickory nut toffee. When eaten together, it seemed like an overly complex dessert. Admittedly, the bill was a bit much, too. This was a good meal, but not the best in the Midwest.