The Claim Company

I promise you it’s not true that I eat out every day. It just so happened that I had family and friends visiting from a far-away place, which meant we were always out shopping or sightseeing.

One of my favourite places to go shopping in Northbrook is at Northbrook Court. I’ve heard from locals about how it’s too upscale and kind of pretentious, but coming from a big city like Hong Kong, I think I’ve become immune to upscale and pretentious, and learned to just focus on the products and services being offered. And in one of the restaurant pockets of Northbrook Court, next to the California Pizza Kitchen, is The Claim Company, a very American, Western-themed place and the only one of its kind. Perfect for my Asian tourist  guests!

First off, I’d like to point out the originality of the restaurant’s appearance. The outside entrance is shaped like a wagon (the kind the pioneers of early America used as transportation, not a kid’s ride), and as you walk inside, you’re greeted by a bored  cowboy and some desert cacti, both fake, which is a good thing. The actual restaurant is upstairs, as if the décor were trying to transport you into a space and time long gone…and very, very stereotyped for any Southern Americans (i.e. Texans). But even stereotypes have some truth behind them, or else they wouldn’t become so in the first place, right?

Anyway. Service was very fast and friendly, something that I’ve always liked about this place. Waiters are very personable, and are quick with both water and coffee refills. The food practically flew out of the kitchen as well, so the chefs are very efficient. But despite the speed, the quality of the food was surprisingly high – something that I can see is a big plus for the restaurant, if one can judge a restaurant’s success by the number of customers there are inside. Although it was only about half-full, the place is quite big, and last time I came (which was a few months ago), there was hardly anyone there.

As for the food, we overestimated and ordered too much, but meh. More to try! Their clam chowder soup was pretty average, maybe a little too salty, but the clams were good and grit-free. Their “Motherlode” burgers were amazing, though – I had the Sicilian turkey burger, with marinara sauce and cheese on top. Very soft and juicy, although maybe a bit too soft for a burger. But that was due to the texture of the meat, not because of a cooking error. I had expected it to come with lettuce and tomatoes, so was surprised when it didn’t. Oh well. The egg bun it was on, though, was not very appetising – it was kind of flavourless, and disintegrated into mush when it came into contact with the juice from the meat. But I took the top half off and ta-daa! Problem solved.

I also got to try a few bites of my guests’ dishes (Asian style), so I know that the Southwestern burger was very good – better than my Sicilian. It had a perfectly cooked 10 oz. prime beef burger inside, with salsa and guacamole for that extra spice. The beef was tender and moist, but unlike the turkey, it also had a spring to it so added much more texture to the overall dish. They could have put more guac, but otherwise the sauce was just right – it didn’t overwhelm the lovely beef, but added to it instead. The other Motherlode burger we had was aptly named “The Dude” – prime beef burger with bacon and egg on top. Mmm. But like I’ve said before, anything with bacon is pretty much an automatic win. Very unhealthy, but still an automatic win unless you’re on a diet and/or vegetarian. Once again, the buns for both burgers weren’t very good, but like I said, it’s optional. Take it off, I say! As for the sides that come with any burger, make sure you choose the sweet potato fries – they were fried to a perfect crispiness and dusted with cinnamon sugar. And they don’t charge extra! (Sweet potatoes are more expensive than regular potatoes, and restaurants usually make up the difference by making customers pay a few bucks extra).

As for the restaurant’s soft tacos, it was heaping big with generous sides of guac, salsa, sour cream, refried beans, and saffron rice. Delicious, but how wrong can you go with tacos? The tacos and chicken were a little dry, but I mixed in the sauces and solved the problem that way. All in all, a good, hearty meal that I can’t believe we managed to finish. Portions are definitely American-sized here, so bring your appetite if you plan to visit! About $13-$15 per person, which is very reasonable considering the portions you’re given. 8/10, and I think it’s become my go-to restaurant for American food.

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