Everyone has heard of a Weber Grill, but few know the iconic history behind the company and how it changed the grilling game forever. This true American story takes place right here in Chicago in the early 1950s with George Stephen Sr. as the protagonist.
Prior to Weber Grills, the market only included open grills. These grills lacked covers, making grilling dependent upon the weather. This all changed in 1952 when George Stephen, Sr. had the revolutionary idea to create a dome-shaped grill. The roundness of the grill would seal the smoke in, giving the food that mouth-watering smoky flavor, as well as provide protection against the weather. George Stephen called his invention the Weber Kettle Grill.
Today Weber Grill offers more than that dome-shaped charcoal grill we have all come to know and love, but the company’s dedication to flavorful food has never wavered.
After seeing years of success, Weber Grill decided to try its hand in the restaurant industry. In 1989, the first Weber Grill Restaurant opened in Wheeling, Illinois. The restaurant fully embraced the Weber tradition by only preparing its food on authentic Weber charcoal kettles. Although this location is no longer open, Weber Grill Restaurants can now be found in the heart of downtown Chicago and in the suburbs of Lombard and Schaumburg. Aside from these Illinois locations, there are also restaurants in St. Louis and Indianapolis.
Each location embodies the same Weber-ness. They all contain open kitchens that allow customers to watch the grill masters prepare their meals on the giant charcoal grills indoors.
They all offer an extensive menu with a number of vegetarian and gluten-free choices (yes, all of you gluten-free individuals actually have OPTIONS here!). And, you can always spot them from a mile away by their giant red Weber Kettle Grills located above their front doors.
The motto of Weber Grill Restaurants is: “For grillers, by grillers.”
If you are wondering about that secret referenced in the title of this post, here is the reveal:
One of the most unique aspects of Weber Grill Restaurants is that whether you order a salad or a steak, some item or part of the meal is prepared on the charcoal kettle grills.
Eating at Weber Grill Restaurants is ideal for both business and pleasure given the vast number of menu items that accommodate every diner’s preferences. And when you are headed there for a lunch with coworkers, there is a “Fresh & Fast” menu. These meals are ideal when you need to be in and out of the restaurant in less than an hour.
Recently, my friends and I took advantage of the warm summer evening and dined at a Weber Grill Restaurant in downtown Chicago. Here are some of the flavorful dishes we enjoyed:
The homemade Limoncello Sangria was a hit with the sweet and refreshing flavor. My party also started with the Weber fireStarter Sampler:
and Food-Fired Crab Cake appetizers:
As a signature item, the crab cake was delicious with a vibrant fresh vegetables salsa, but the Sampler won our vote because it was the perfect appetizer choice. It contained skewers of Weber’s Hickory BBQ Ribs, Grilled Honey Dijon Chicken Skewer, Lemon Garlic Shrimp, and Grill-Seared Steak. You basically get to sample all the best stuff!
Up next was the main course. Weber Grill Restaurants offer such an array of meals that my friends and I all ordered different items. We had nothing but compliments when it came to the flavor of each of our dishes! Check out what we ordered below:
- Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Salad
- Ingredients: Mixed greens, asparagus, artichokes, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, shaved red onion, Kalamata olives, Feta Cheese, pepperoncini, herbed pita croutons glazed with white Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Connection to Weber Grill: All of the vegetables are prepared on the kettle grills except for the tomatoes and olives.
- Note: This menu option is vegetarian but protein can be added for extra.
- Beer Can Chicken
- Ingredients: Grill-roasted half chicken, Weber’s Beer Can Chicken Seasoning, fresh herbs, garlic mashed potatoes
- Connection to Weber Grill: The chicken
- Note: You are truly served half of a chicken with this signature item, so be prepared to bring leftovers home! Due to its sheer size, it also makes the ideal option to split between children.
- Prime Kettleburger
- Ingredients: Weber’s secret Blend of U.S.D.A prime black Angus Beef and Weber seasonings, Bourbon grilled onions and Cabot Sharp Vermont Cheddar + parmesan garlic fries served on the side
- Connection to Weber Grill: The burger is charcoal-seared on the kettle grills for a mouth-watering smoky flavor that keeps you coming back for more.
- Note: The presentation of this meal is incredible. Three perfectly fried pickles come stacked on top of the bun!
Grilled Southwest Fish Tacos
- Ingredients: Lightly blackened, Pico de Gallo, avocado, and Guajillo salsa
- Connection to Weber Grill: The fish itself is prepared on the kettle grill, which attests for the skill these chefs at Weber Grill Restaurants truly have!
- Southwest Chicken Sandwich
- Ingredients: Lightly spiced chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and ranch dressing
- Connection to Weber Grill: Chicken breast is grilled on the charcoal kettle grill. To Perfection!
If you have not already been to a Weber Grill Restaurant, we highly recommend checking one out! From the service to the food, the all-around experience exceeds all expectations. It is truly Weber-ful!
BONUS WEBER GRILL TRICKS:
Since Inspiring Kitchen is all about sharing the best cooking tips, Corporate Chef Larry Donahue offered some perfectly timed advice for grilling on a Weber Grill just in time for this upcoming holiday weekend:
- By measuring the amount of charcoal you use, creating cooking zones and keeping the lid closed as much as possible, you are able to get great results every time you grill.
- We like to cook thinner cut of proteins and vegetables over direct heat. This is when the food is placed directly over the charcoal. With thicker cuts, we use a combination of direct and indirect heat. This is when the charcoal is off to one side of the grill.
- We sear over the charcoal (direct heat) and then move to the part of the grill not over the charcoal(indirect heat). This will allows thicker cuts to finish cooking.
- The shape of the grill helps the heat convect around the food to cook evenly and not burn. By keeping the lid on the grill you reduce flare ups, but also puts all that great flavor on the food or surprising food you never thought you can grill. Or, how to enhance flavor when cooking on gas since that is flavorless while charcoal infuses its own flavor.
- Weber gas grills have a great thing called flavorizer bars. They sit just below the cooking grate over the burners, as your food cooks, the juices drip and hit the bars. The juices vaporizer and send that great flavor back up to the food. Using the same methods of direct and indirect cooking along with keeping the lid closed you will get the same great grilled flavor on a Weber gas or charcoal grill.
Such great information to help everyone have a successful grilling experience. Now, how many of you are going to be taking advantage of Chef Donahue’s advice?! Happy Grilling!