One of the nation’s most popular burger joints is officially open in New York City.
Chicago’s Au Cheval has landed at 33 Cortlandt Alley, an unassuming alley in Tribeca between White and Walker streets, the only business on a fairly desolate street. The modern diner is arguably one of Chicago’s most renowned restaurants, known for drawing long lines for its standout dish: the burger.
That burger is a simple, classic American-style creation, made of two griddled four-ounce black Angus patties with American cheese, dijonnaise, and pickles on a toasted bun. The Instagram odes to it are endless, with some saying it’s the best in the country.
It’s recreated exactly here. Owner Brendan Sodikoff says he “wanted to bring the concept in its entirety and see how it’s received, and then we’ll adjust.”
That means the menu follows the original, with other gussied-up, diner-style dishes such as a fried bologna sandwich, duck heart hash, and chilaquiles. The menu, in full below, is a little slimmer than Chicago’s, but Sodikoff says they’ll add to it as operations get up and running.
Other differences include the space itself, which is bigger at 85 seats between the dining room and kitchen counter. New York’s Au Cheval, housed in a former warehouse, keeps the original, mismatched windows, exposed brick walls, and cement staircases.
Those staircases lead to perhaps the biggest difference of all: a downstairs bar, meant to serve as a waiting room for likely crowds. It’s not open yet, but the moody, red-lit space will serve overspill with a small cocktail menu of drinks like a frozen coconut painkiller and bites such as a fried chicken sandwich.
“That’s something we don’t have in Chicago, and it’s a nice addition. Au Cheval is not comfortable for everybody,” Sodikoff says. “It’s part of the charm maybe, but we’d like to evolve past that and give people a little more room.”
Another main difference is the addition of Sawada Coffee at the entrance. That’s Hogsalt Hospitality’s — Sodikoff’s restaurant group with more than a dozen businesses — coffee concept in Chicago with Tokyo coffee obsessive Hiroshi Sawada, know for skillfully crafted beverages. Here, it’s a counter at the entrance with about 15 seats serving up matcha and espresso drinks, as well as brewed coffee and tea. Coffee director Ryan Dailey is running it in NYC.
This isn’t Sodikoff’s first entry into NYC. He had a hand in opening Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and Per Se, and he now owns steakhouse 4 Charles Prime Rib in the West Village and operates a restaurant on the top floor of RH’s Meatpacking District store. It’s a shift for him, one he says could continue if Au Cheval is well-received.
“I see a lot of opportunity. I’m currently most excited about New York City,” he says. “But I’m not on any financial path or goals or growth strategy. If we find spaces that really resonate with us and people really like what we’re doing, then we’ll try to do more.”
Au Cheval is open this week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday that extends to midnight. Sawada Coffee is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Full hours begin next week — the website will update with the day — with Au Cheval open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., except until midnight on Sundays. Sawada will continue to be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.