After the Cubs’ World Series win, a bunch of new hotels, bars, and restaurants started appearing in Wrigleyville, kind of like long-lost cousins after someone wins the lottery. Mordecai is one of them, and it has a few things going for it - like a nice space and very close proximity to the stadium. The problem is that the food just isn’t very good.
You’re going to want to like Mordecai, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to the roughly 1,896 sports bars nearby. It’s located right across from the stadium in the Hotel Zachary. There are two levels, and the space feels kind of like a wealthy family’s rec room, with lots of wood, tweed and leather accents all over, and a large display of fancy-looking liquor bottles (which makes sense, because they have an extensive collection of vintage spirits).
The menu is American, and like most Cubs seasons, it starts out looking promising, but ends up disappointing you. There’s a steak tartare (topped with puffed rice, charred eggplant, caviar, and a quail egg) with meat that tastes gummy, and a tough smoked pork chop that comes with apples and vegetables we wish had been cooked longer. The housemade goat bratwurst is very dry, and served on a hard bun that breaks apart while you try to eat it. Then there’s the burger, which has way too much going on - two salty patties, sharp cheese, overly-sweet whisky jam, bacon, spicy pickles, lettuce, and a black garlic aioli, all on another overly dry bun.
There are a few things here that are OK. The tempura-battered cheese curds are fine, and the fish and chips are tasty and perfectly fried. Plus, as we said before, this place has an impressive liquor selection. So while we can’t recommend getting a full dinner here, we do endorse coming for a few drinks, a nice view of the stadium, and minimal interaction with people wearing beer can hats. Save the rest of your money for tickets to the game - we hear things are looking pretty promising this season.
There are two main issues with the steak tartare. The first is the gummy texture of the meat, and the second is that all the components - puffed rice, smoked eggplant, caviar, and a quail egg - pull it into too many directions, none of which is good.
The pate has a good flavor - the problem is its texture. It has the same gluey-ness as the tartare, and the thin crostini can’t hold up to it. Plus, it’s wrapped in a thick piece of cold, fatty bacon.
We really do not like the burger here. The two patties are very salty, and the rest of the components (like way-too-sweet whisky jam, spicy pickles, and sharp cheese) don’t complement each other. Plus, the dry bun sucks up any moisture like a Shamwow.
The meat is so dry it could conceivably be the billy goat from the 1945 curse - and the bun is dry, too (just like the one on the burger). But the sauerkraut is fine, so there’s that.
We like mumbo sauce. But we don’t like Mordecai’s sweet mumbo sauce poured all over the ribs, completely overshadowing the flavor of the meat.
This is the lone vegetarian entree. The romanesco is oily, and there are only about six pieces of it on a bed of curry-spiced farro, along with the pickles that Mordecai puts on everything.
The pasta is housemade, but it’s overcooked, and its truffled cream sauce has thick, tough pieces of bacon that overwhelm the truffle flavor. It’s also a pretty small portion for $24.
Honestly, it’s hard to make fried cheese taste bad. Our biggest issue is the tempura batter, which falls apart and gets soggy quickly.
This is a thick bone-in pork chop topped with a calvados and paprika jus. It’s tough, and the apples and vegetables on the side are firmer than we would have liked, and don’t have much flavor.
We’re not saying this is going to blow your friend from London’s mind, but it’s definitely good. The beer batter is crispy, the fish is juicy, and it’s covered in a malt vinegar powder that adds a nice hit of acid.