When Chicago Cut announced it was opening at 300 N. LaSalle a couple of years ago, many in the city said, hey, what does Chicago need with another steakhouse? Well, after Esquire magazine named Chicago Cut one of its 20 best new restaurants in 2011, it's been all uphill since then.
Whether you come for breakfast (yep, by popular demand they serve breakfast 7-11 weekdays and brunch on weekends), lunch or dinner, you'll find yourself in a place full of light---Chicago Cut has high ceilings and window-walls that frame views of the city's fabulous architecture and overlook the river. You'll walk into a sea of crisp white tablecloths with pristine table settings, and servers who go about their jobs with calm efficiency and professionalism. In the warmer months the restaurant spills out onto the riverside patio.
And then there's the delicious stuff coming out of the kitchen...
How many restaurants do you know that have their own butcher? And a dry-aging room for their meat? And a wine list fit for kings and queens? We're talking multiple notches above the ordinary.
You'll find a menu rich in prime aged steaks, from rib eye to filet and skirt steak to prime rib and Chateaubriand to hamburger, along with lump crabmeat in a variety of dishes, lamb chops, chicken, fish, pork and top-quality fare from the sea like fresh tuna, scallops and Chilean sea bass The menu is sprinkled here and there with dishes featuring irreplaceable classic gems from the saucier like Hollandaise and Bearnaise---yes, the real egg yolks and real butter kind. Open with a shrimp, crab or lobster cocktail or their seafood bouquet, which gives you some of each plus an oyster. Or how about a prime beef slider? Ah, the way beef used to taste decades ago when I was a budding home gourmet cook...
Pick from a nice array of salads, from side-sized to full meal versions with seafood or beef and a couple of classic soups---French onion, split pea or a special of the day. My vinaigrette dressing tasted hand-made and delicious, and I was happy not to find my greens sitting in a puddle of it.
Side dishes are created with as much care and panache as the carefully cut and aged beef. Rich mac'n'cheese garnished with optional lobster or crab. I loved the fresh green spinach cooked to a perfect finish (avoiding the bitter taste of overcooking), and appreciated the popular selection of potato choices. I went for the gold and had a filet topped with crab and crowned with Bearnaise. Oh, yeah.
The service is excellent. David Flom, one of the owners/managing partners (Matt Moore is the other), said, "We're aiming for perfection." If something goes wrong---accidentally spilling something on a customer, as happened during our visit, or delivering a steak overdone---the staff go out of the way to make it right. We ended up with the dessert tray arriving, compliments of the house---according to David a common occurrence if something has been less than perfect at a table.
"Giving a dessert when there's been a slip isn't going to put us out of business," he said, but it lets the customer know "we're sorry for the problem" and are dedicated to making the customer feel taken care of. David talks about his passion for customer service. On a recent cruise he and his family took to Alaska, he said his dad got hit by a piece of scaffolding. And despite the fact there were 24 family members on the ship, the management never apologized or offered any kind of customer service extra. He was appalled, and it only strengthened his resolve to strive for perfection in his restaurant.
And oh, the wines at Chicago Cut Steakhouse. Their wine list is conveniently available via iPad so you can see beautiful photos of the bottles. David said they are constantly broadening and deepening their knowledge of wines. David and his team of three from Chicago Cut are so respected for their professional tasting abilities that they consult officially with six wineries in CA.
These tasting teams include members from select restaurants who work with the winemakers to help them blend their wines and work out when the wines are ideally ready to drink, what foods they most complement, how long a wine can be aged, and so on. Sounds like a truly professional team approach to producing and procuring the finest wines and knowing which ones to make available to the discerning guest at Chicago Cut.
Happily there's a nice range of prices, from an affordable $25 bottle to those costing four figures. Just recently tried one of their small-winery labels, Sequoia Grove Napa Cabernet. "Beautiful" was the word that came to mind.
Chicago Cut is not pretentious. Rather it's elegant but comfortable. Bring a friend, a loved one, or a business colleague, warm up your credit card, and prepare to eat and drink well without worrying about the price.