Both inside and outside, Chef Mike’s Charcoal Grill looks pretty much like your typical American pub complete with gigantic TVs showing sports, an expansive bar, lots of booths, and a smattering of tables. What sets Chef Mike’s apart from other bars, however, is the food. All the meat is fresh, never frozen, and everything is prepared on a large charcoal grill. In addition, they make all the food from scratch—even the fries and the buns.
As you’d expect from a place with the words “charcoal grill” in its name, the menu consists mainly of burgers, steaks, chops, and seafood. There are some interesting choices, however, including a Joseph Decuis Wagyu burger, a red devil burger (with jalapeños, Havarti cheese, and hot sauce), a pizza burger, and the Big Burger (a 3-lb burger that serves 8-12 people and must be ordered 8 hours in advance). They also offer grilled pizzas and an assortment of non-burger sandwiches (including a Philly cheese steak, a Reuben, and a grilled Portobello mushroom).
The full bar has an extensive assortment of craft beers on tap (Fat Tire and the like) including quite a few options from the Midwest and even some local brews (mainly Sun King). I ordered a New Holland Dragon’s Milk with my dinner, which I liked very much. It was thick, dark, and oak-y—and also packed quite a wallop. They also make mixed drinks, of course; I saw someone with a margarita.
As an appetizer, my friend and I decided to try the firecracker shrimp cocktail. When it came out, I was surprised to see that the shrimp were grilled, which is not what I usually expect from a shrimp cocktail. Still, I have to admit that it was delicious; the grilling really added a lot of flavor to the shrimp. The cocktail sauce was fine as well, although not quite as spicy as I like it.
For my entrée, I opted for the bar-b-q burger with potato salad while my friend went with the bacon, mushroom, and Swiss burger with fries. We were both quite pleased. My burger was excellent, perfectly cooked medium-rare with a splash of tangy bar-b-q sauce on top. I could have used a bit more of the sauce, actually. The potato salad was good as well and seemed lighter than potato salads at many places. My bud dug his burger, too, although he said his could have used just a touch more seasoning salt. He said the fries, which seemed coated or batter-dipped or something, were really tasty.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Chef Mike’s. And the staff was friendly and welcoming, too; I don’t know if they actually are one big family, but they certainly seemed like it.
One more thing, even though Chef Mike’s is set up like a bar, they do have an area designated for families, so you can definitely bring kids. As a matter of fact, kids under 6 eat free every day. Bonus!