I'm lucky enough to have awesome friends like Tim, who took me out for a drink or two to make me feel better. We hit up Partners first, and as it got later, big hongries developed and we moved over to the new location of Norton's, which formerly housed Lincoln Park Grille. I hadn't been to Norton's in a good 12 years and was anxious to see what it looked like when a dive moved into such a classy joint. Having spent so much time in LPG as a yute, I didn't think the sports bar decor really jived with the location, but it was...interesting.
Tim and his wife Amie both ordered burgers, along with an appetizer of fried pickles, and Mr. FvF and I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and a pork tenderloin to split, and an order of cheese sticks. I apologize in advance for lack of photos, it was too dark for my camera phone to get a good shot. I should have taken Amie up on her offer to use her Blackberry phone, which has a flash.
All of the food arrived pretty quickly. The starters came and while the fried pickles were aces (they had a spicier batter that amplified the garlic in the pickles), the mozzarella stick were just so-so.
Our entrees came out just as we finished and looked great, though all of the sandwiches were sadly devoid of tomato. It was late in the evening, and I assume they ran out. So, they don't lose any points, but no explanation was made for their absence. The pork tenderloin was good, but just good. It was no SubHouse Big T. The burgers were all pretty fantastic, though. Well seasoned, cooked precisely to order, and the beef was super tender and juicy. My biggest problem with our burger is that they used the Oscar-Meyer variety microwaveable bacon that cooks up all limp and flacid. It takes such little time and effort to cook up perfect bacon to compliment a burger, why take this kind of short cut? I know the LPG kitchen isn't exactly set up for short-order cooking, so this is an inexcusable failure.
Everyone got fries with their burger, which I sampled. Run of the mill frozen variety, and definitely not enough salt. I ordered cole slaw, which the server said she wasn't certain they made in-house (I always ask). Well, I can tell you without a doubt they definitely don't, and it was pretty terrible. I've been on a hardcore, uncensored cole slaw kick lately, but this rained on my slaw parade. Very finely minced, soggy with zero crunch, and a very strange taste. Again, it was dark - but I either spotted some jalapenos or some relish in there, maybe both - neither of which have a place in cole slaw. I'm always smart enough to end on a high note, so I didn't finish it and saved my burger for the last bite.
Service was perfectly friendly, but not stellar once we moved out to the patio. Granted, we were the only people out there, but it was like pulling teeth to get another beer or our checks once we moved. I also could have lived without the dude singing Hootie and Bryan Adams covers throughout the night. I was pretty shocked to hear one of the servers tell another table that because of the live "music," they charge a cover on Friday and Saturday nights. I find this pretty absurd, because it's still more of a restaurant than a bar - and no one in their right mind would pay to hear that crap.
Overall, meh. The burgers and fried pickles won me over, but it wasn't enough to save their hide and get them an above-average rating. And truthfully, if I want a killer burger, I'm going to Tank's.
3 out of 5 sporks