Weber Grill – Wheeling, Illinois

In 1952, George Stephen invented the original Weber kettle grill and with his innovative design, sparked a backyard revolution. As a result, the XY chromosome compliment was no longer a handicap (or more accurately, an excuse) for men throughout the world when it came to preparing meals for their families.

Since the discovery of fire, man has viewed his domain as the outdoors from where he and his fellow hunters brought home the day’s victuals for early woman to prepare. Throughout the centuries, the descendents of troglodytic man (many of whom haven’t evolved much) have perceived cooking as a feminine affectation, taunting any other man who deigned to acquire culinary skills. With Stephen’s invention, grilling outdoors was seen by man as an extension of his manly domain, not as liberation to explore a “feminine side” he long denied.

Today, backyard grilling is an year-round phenomenon plied by men attired with aprons emblazoned with the words “Kiss the Chef” and wielding the tools (which in the kitchen would be called utensils) of their backyard domain. “Real” men still see cooking as woman’s work. Grilling is another matter, rationalizing that since the dawn of time, only man has had domain over fire. The Weber grill made it possible for men lacking in any culinary skills (unless you consider eating a culinary skill) whatsoever to prepare edible–even tasty grilled food.

In 1989, the first Weber Grill restaurant was established in Wheeling, Illinois, ostensibly to build on the popularity of grilling but more obviously to showcase the potential of Weber products. A window looking from the dining room into the kitchen allows diners to observe classic outdoor grilling (without the pesky mosquitoes, Tiki torches or rain chances) done entirely indoors by the grilling experts at Weber. Grill masters prepare dozens of meals simultaneously on oversized, stainless steel Weber charcoal kettles that achieve temperatures in excess of 400 degrees.

The menu is replete with grilled specialties, all ascribed adjectives such as “charcoal-fired,” “backyard favorites,” “sizzling,” and “flame-seared.” It doesn’t take long for an order to make it from the kitchen to your table, a tribute to the skill of the grill masters and the blistering heat generated by charcoal briquettes. Service is first-rate with an attentive wait staff at your beck and call.

Weber Grill features both a soup and a chili of the day as well as baked onion soup served daily. In theory, a cheeseburger soup sounds like a real winner, but in practicum, Weber’s version fell somewhat short. Featuring many of the ingredients (hamburger, cheese, onion) that make cheeseburgers one of America’s favorite foods, the soup features a rich, tasty broth that lacks something–perhaps the tangy mustard that adorns most burgers. While an otherwise excellent soup, it may not be fully worthy of the “cheeseburger” name. Several other starters and salads are also available as appetizing antecedents to your meal. The Romaine wedge salad is crafted with grilled red onion, tomato, bacon and Parmesan cheese then topped with a generous dollop of sharp blue cheese dressing. It is an excellent salad that two can share.

While “grilling” (cooking food quickly and directly over high heat) and “barbecuing” (a long, slow process utilizing indirect low-heat to “smoke-cook” food) have mistakenly become synonymous in American culture, it’s hard to imagine a menu predominant in meats not featuring barbecue and Weber Grill doesn’t disappoint here. Weber’s hickory-smokes their barbecue for hours. The result is tender meats imbued with a distinct smoky flavor that characterizes great barbecue. The best way to experience Weber Grill barbecue is through the Combination Platter, a sampling of baby back ribs, Midwestern-style pulled pork, a quarter BBQ chicken and grilled smoked sausage. The baby back ribs are especially good.

Another Weber Grill specialty is flame-seared skirt steak which is marinated in a ginger-soy sauce with smoky grilled onions and peppers. Skirt steak has long been a Southwest staple most often served as fajitas. Rarely is it as tender and well marinated as the Weber Grill version. You might wish you had a few tortillas for this meaty treat.

While it’s unlikely man will ever give up his backyard grilling domain, at least Weber Grill provides an all weather alternative featuring grilled foods that taste as good man would like to think his backyard creations do.

Weber Grill
220 North Milwaukee Avenue
Wheeling, Illinois
(847) 215-0996
LATEST VISIT: 21 November 2005
COST: $$$
BEST BET: BBQ Combination Platter, Skirt Steak, Romaine Wedge Salad

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