It’s tough to recreate greatness. The Land Before Time II wasn’t as good as The Land Before Time I. And Sharknado 2 was nowhere near as good as Sharknado 1. That's why we initially had mixed feelings when we heard Au Cheval was going to serve their glorious cheeseburgers at a new, burger-only location called Small Cheval.
On one hand, we didn't mind seeing Small Cheval replace Roxie's By The Slice, a not so great pizza restaurant that this same restaurant group owned. Credit to them for recognizing Roxie's wasn't great. They went all Jon Taffer on their own restaurant and shut it down.
On the flip side, could they really recreate the Au Cheval burger in a small second location dedicated to burgers alone?
Verdict: They come pretty damn close. The patties feel a bit smaller, but the flavor is equally as great, plus the pickles, sauce, and bun are identical too. But the major difference, and it's a major one, is the fact Small Cheval doesn’t serve Au Cheval’s signature thick-cut, pork belly-like bacon. You can get crispy bacon strips, which is still better than no bacon, but the mothership bacon is on another level. You also can’t get a fried egg at Small Cheval. That's not as big of a loss as the bacon, but a loss nonetheless.
One thing Small Cheval does have going for it is accessibility. Since Au Cheval doesn't take reservations, waits have become so long that it's rarely practical to eat there. And that’s why Small Cheval is an excellent option - get a burger to go, pop in for a quick bite, or linger a bit inside or on the excellent patio out back.
Let's not forget that D2: The Might Ducks wasn't quite the original, but that sequel was still great.
This is a great burger. It's tough not to compare to Au Cheval since that's what it's supposed to be, but aside from the bacon and lack of fried eggs, they are virtually the same. A simple burger with two patties, pickles, garlic mayo, cheese, and crispy bacon if you choose.
Good fries. Make sure to get yourself some ketchup and garlic aioli on the back counter for dipping purposes.