Every Wednesday I review a cookbook and/or food related books to help weed out the good the bad and the ugly. This week I am reviewing The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook by Carlyn Berghoff and Nancy Ross Ryan. 

As a Midwesterner I frequent Chicago and I  have been to the Berghoff Cafe.  The Bergoff Cafe is a larger than life restaurant that is loud and extremely fun.  The best part about the Berghoff Cafe is their vast selection of Berghoff Beers.  I like the original Amber.  They also have amazing food.  My favorite is the beer cheese soup.  I discovered that they had a recipe for the soup in the book. 

The Berghoff Cafe book and food is based around three principles: Reuse, Recycle and Reinvent.  What does this mean.  Well extra potatoes become Lyonnaise Potatoes, Potato Soup and more.  The roasted turkey breast goes on to star in the turkey reuben.  Basically everything is used for multiple purposes and never wasted.  This is a great principle in this economy.

Almost every recipe in the book contains a little history about the recipe, an ingredient or a historical period when the recipe was originally developed.  For instance they include history about “shot and a wash”.  Shot an a wash is basically whiskey dropped in beer.  Basically it is a refined boilermaker.  This was done as back in the day water was often impure and drank at ones own risk.  Further whiskey was primitive and had a lot of impurities making it have a bad taste.  So back in the day after a people would take a shot they would rinse their mouths out with beer instead of water.  Thus, a shot and a wash. 

This book is organized in a standard fashion from appetizers to entrees to desserts.  Although the majority of the book is appetizers.  The appetizers sections starts with Bar Snacks moves on to Soups, Sandwiches, Salads and Sides.  Then it moves on to Daily Specials to Pizzas.  Then it finishes up with Desserts.

Any book that starts out with bar snacks has to be awesome.  They have recipes for everything from deviled eggs to soft pretzels.  They even include a recipe for a classic relish tray.  When I was growing up my Grandma Donna always had a relish tray at every meal. I loved the gerkins, block olive and baby pickles.  Although not a real recipe, it contains the ingredients to assemble the perfect relish tray.

My favorite thing at the Berghoff Cafe is the Beer Cheese Soup.  They include the recipe for this in the soup section.  The soup is contains four cups of cheese and a whole bottle of beer.  While it is missing some bacon, it is a great recipe.  They garnish the soup with a freshly baked pretzel or freshly popped popcorn.  If this is the exact recipe from the restaurant then it is an amazing recipe.

The book also includes a whole section on pizzas.  Yep, I spent a couple of hours analyzing this section.  They have a great pizza that utilizes bratwurst and sauerkraut.  It is very similar to the Reuben pizza that I made.  It starts out with a caraway crust, topped with brown mustard and then layered with brats, kraut and onions.  Along with this tasty recipe they also have others that include smoked sausage and potato pizza and cafe’ onion and bacon pizza.  Every pizza in this section sounds amazing.

Overall this is a great book.  It contains easy and wholesome recipes that are amazing. This book totally reminds me of the comfort foods that I grew up with in the midwest.  If you are looking for easy comfort food with a midwestern twist this book is for you. 

The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook is available wherever books are sold and is available on Amazon here.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Eggs in NestsIngredients1bc lb of ground beef (uncooked)bd cup bread cumbrs4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese4 potatoes, cooked and mashed8 eggs7 tbsp melted butterSalt & pepper to tasteDirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degreesMix meat, bread cumbrs, cheese, mashed potatoes & salt & pepper in bowl.Make nests by forming 8 balls out of the meat mixture. Flatten and make an indentation in the center.Place in buttered ovenproof dish & cook for 30 min.Remove from ovenCrack egg into nest, sprinkle with salt & pepper to tasteReturn to oven for 8-12 minutes.

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