Bridge House Tavern

Restaurants, American River North
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Bridge House Tavern
Photograph: Jason Little Shaved Salad at Bridge House Tavern

Blame it on the Butcher & Larder. If I hadn’t heard that Bridge House Tavern was carrying charcuterie from Rob Levitt’s new butcher shop, I might not have expected much difference between this new riverside restaurant and its former tenant, Flatwater, where a colleague once bit into a hot dog that was cold in the middle. But Bridge House’s menu had those locally cured meats, a locally sourced cheese plate and “Green City Market veggies” as a side. In other words, Bridge House Tavern was trying.

Alas, it’s also bombing. Over the course of two meals, I was introduced to chewy shrimp awkwardly combined with sauce tableside in a cocktail shaker; a generous iceberg wedge topped with a couple strips of cold, limp bacon; and evidence that the easiest way to render unappetizing an impressive range of dishes—from a shaved-vegetable salad to “fish sticks” (just fish-and-chips) to a grilled-cheese sandwich to that “market veggie” side (ramps and mushrooms)—is to serve them soaked through with oil.

The range and severity of execution errors combined with the limited, mass-market beer list and lack of cocktail program seemed to negate any reason for visiting this place. But then one beautiful day, I was waving from the striking riverside patio to a team of junior-high baseball players on a Wendella boat when I tasted the Bridge House burger: two thin patties with melting American cheese on a potato bun, a steroidal take on the Shake Shack cult object. If Bridge House Tavern can make a burger this awesome in a space this coveted, its only mistake is trying to do anything else.

By Julia Kramer


Venue name: Bridge House Tavern
Address: 321 N Clark St
Cross street: at the Chicago River
Opening hours: Lunch, dinner.
Transport: El stop: Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Clark. Bus: 22, 156.
Price: Average main course: $23
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My first time having brunch at BHT over the summer was ok. Can't beat the ambience and waterfront view. However, in general, it was too pricey for the mediocre food we ate. My friends from Connecticut visited me over the summer and I picked this place for the elegant setting. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. I think I could've picked a much more casual and affordable waterfront restaurant with better food, but it is a good place for tourists.