Tag Archives: chicago

Lawry’s the Prime Rib

Lawry’s The Prime Rib overall score: 92*

I’d never been to a Lawry’s before. I had heard good things, and of course we all know the seasonings from the grocery store.

But I honestly did not expect it to be as awesome as it was. The Chicago location is not only set in the beautiful historic McCormick mansion, but the prime rib is by far one of the best I’ve ever had. I would fly back tomorrow just for a repeat of this meal if I could.

Flavor: 10

We had the Lawry cut, which is $47 and comes with the famous spinning salad, Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes.

We shared this, which is why there’s a vertical emergency C-section scar on the meat in this pic (they plated it separately and I re-joined the meat for the photo).

I was blown away by this. It was so tender and juicy, so much flavor, and an incredible cap. I wish they had a location in NYC. They serve it with two types of horseradish: a cream and raw/grated.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

You actually have a pretty great selection of cuts here for a place that mainly focuses on just prime rib. next time I’d like to try the rib eye (roasted prime rib which is then grilled and seared) and maybe the English cut prime rib. They’re missing the strip steak and porterhouse, but who cares. I’m not even going to take points away for that, since you have like 19 sizes of prime rib to choose from.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

Portions here are large and you get a great deal of food for the price. Everything is plated nicely, and the table side service for the spinning salad and prime rib cart is truly awesome.

Price: 10

Despite the silly “share charge” of $15, this place is a friggin steal. For $47 we got the steak, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a salad.

Bar: 10

Although there is no real street side view or windows to the outside world, the bar and lounge area is breathtaking.

They make a delicious martini with Chopin vodka, where the olives are stuffed with prime rib and horseradish. Awesome.

My wife had one of their signature cocktails with gin and cucumber that was incredibly refreshing on such a hot day.

And they even have a side entrance to the bar room with a speakeasy vibe to it, called Side Door. Their bar menu gives you access to some of the delicious food in Lawry’s, but it is mostly re-thought for snack type dishes and pub food.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

The prime rib is special itself here. No real need for other items to be marketed, and if they were, I didn’t pay attention. They do offer any other entrees aside from beef or fish, and I respect the shit out of that. Take this category’s score with that in mind. In other words, disregard it.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We only had what came with our prime rib; namely, the spinning salad, the Yorkshire pudding and the mashed potatoes.

The spinning salad is called that because they spin a cold metal bowl which tossing it. Romaine lettuce, sliced beets and a thousand island style dressing. Very classic.

The Yorkshire pudding is essentially a pop-over, and it was delicious.

Dessert selections are nice. At first we didn’t order anything. We were full.

But they brought us out an English trifle on the house for our anniversary, which is what we were leaning towards anyway. It was really nice and light. Great cake and great jam.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s definitely something here for you fans of the sea. Salmon and lobster tails, to be exact. And some sides or starters like shrimp cocktail, of course.

Service: 10

Nothing like it. When you go here, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. White glove service, extremely friendly and attentive waitresses, but not overcrowding or annoying. Very knowledgeable too, I might add. Here’s the inside of that prime rib service cart pictured above. Heaven.

 

The bread was basic, but the butter was soft and spreadable.

They paid attention to what we put on our OpenTable reservation, and we were greeted with a ribbon on our table, and treated to a free dessert.

Our waitress knew the Lawry’s Chicago story in and out. The space used to be a private mansion. It is absolutely stunning inside.

Ambiance: 10

This place is beautiful. I mentioned above that it used to be a private mansion (the McCormick family).

I’ve never seen a more elegant dining room.

Nice details in this joint. Check out this stained glass window in the lounge/bar area:

Bottom line, go here! This was my favorite meal in months.

LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB
100 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611

Bonci USA

Bonci is one of the best pizza joints I’ve ever eaten at in my life.

My wife and I first encountered this place in Rome, at their flagship location behind the Vatican. Then I heard they opened up shop in Chicago. This was one of the primary reasons I decided to book the trip to Chicago. yes. Pizza. Not so much the steak. Anyway, this place is just as good as the Rome location.

With the added benefit of free sparkling water on tap!

For those that don’t know, Roman style pizza is the shit. It’s a square pie, more like focaccia bread almost, but with pizza toppings. Crispy, light, fluffy, thick, airy, puffy. All that good shit. Well risen.

You order by weight at these places, so they will cut it up as thick or thin as you like. I went for sicilian slice sizes of four different styles, and the price came to about $33 for nearly a full pie’s worth.

That’s traditional margherita, nduja and potato, spicy sausage, and soppressata and potato – all with varying amounts of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, tomato etc. Fucking amazing.

The only place that comes close is PQR in Manhattan. If you want this experience closer to home without having to travel to Rome or Chicago, then go there. They do great work.

BONCI USA
161 N Sangamon St
Chicago, IL 60607

Gene & Georgetti

Gene & Georgetti overall score: 77

Another old timey Chicago joint that my wife and I hit on our trip was Gene & Georgetti.

This Italian place has been slinging food since 1941 with steak as their specialty.

The air conditioning was indeed comfortable, as the front of the menu suggests. In any case, we did a somewhat smaller meal here, as we were still a bit full from lunch and I knew I wanted to get another Italian beef sandwich later that night.

Flavor: 6

We shared the smaller cut porterhouse, which is generally meant for one. I think it was 24oz.

It was cooked nicely to medium rare throughout, and it was tender. Every bit of it was devoured. The down side was that it didn’t have a great char on it, and the flavor was a little weak, though it was indeed properly seasoned. There is certainly potential here.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

This place covers the four steakhouse basics and then some, with different sizing of each. Most of the beef is wet-aged, with the exception of the tomahawk special.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are good here. No complaints whatsoever. I think the plating is typical of old time steak joints: a semi-fancy plate with the item plated neatly in the center.  No fluffy bullshit; I respect that.

Price: 8

At this point I was starting to get used to Chicago steakhouse pricing. The marked up items are generally the dry-aged stuff or the specials. The single cut porterhouse came in at about $55, which is closer to NYC pricing, but it did come with a soup or salad as well as a potato. Not too bad.

Bar: 7

The bar here is a mid-century modern stretch at which I would be happy to sit and have a drink.

There’s a great plaque on the wall at the bar with an excellent quote:

And as for the drinks themselves, they’re nicely mixed. I had a negroni since this is an Italian steakhouse. It was delicious.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

They had a few items on special. Let me grab the menu for you:

Maybe we should have tried that tomahawk.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

Aside from dessert, we really only tried the soup, salad and potato that came with our entrees. They had a shrimp appetizer that sounded like scampi that seemed interesting to me. Next time.

Nothing too impressive here, but all of it reminded me of what my mom used to make at home when I was growing up. Just not quite as good. Their “Garbage Salad” sounded way more appealing, and we should have ordered that instead. It has all sorts of meats and cheeses in it, which would have been exactly like my mom’s. The potatoes were just under-seasoned and under-crisped. Mom’s are better than these too.

Dessert was great, and it was a much appreciated gift on the house.

That’s pistachio, coconut, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Keeping it simple! I like it.

Seafood Selection: 8

There are a bunch of seafood entrees here, but we decided to try a seafood pasta for our second main course. A classic: linguini with white clam sauce.

This was great. Not only was there an abundance of clams in the shell, but the sauce was also made with minced clams as well. Very flavorful, with perfectly cooked pasta.

Service: 10

Top notch service here. Attention to detail, nice staff, and they pay attention to what you write on your OpenTable reservations. I was also a huge fan of their bread sticks.

Ambiance: 7

I love the old feel to this place, but I think it might be time for an update. The original touches and details can definitely remain, but maybe some spit shining can happen. I wish I was able to check out the upstairs, but it seemed like there was a private event going on up there. The two dining rooms downstairs were nice though.

GENE & GEORGETTI
500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654

Fat Rice

Fat Rice is a trendy spot in Chicago that serves up some interesting and unique Asian inspired dishes, as you can see by the various menus.

We started with the special octopus salad appetizer. This was really delicious and refreshing. Beautiful plate too, I might add.

Next up was their big boy, the “Fat Rice” namesake dish (Arroz Gordo). This is like an Asian paella: a cross between a hot clay pot bibimbap and traditional Spanish paella, with both European and Asian toppers like grilled head on shrimp, char siu pork belly, molasses and fish sauce seasoned boiled egg, curry chicken thighs, languinica sausage and wood roasted beef (like BBQ).

It was delicious. A few spots could have used some improvement though. For example, the pork belly could have rendered out a bit more, and the beef could have been less dry. But over all it was a really nice dish, and I’d order it again in a heartbeat.

This place has a bakery connected to it as well, so The Cake Dealer and I tried out a bunch of their stuff.

I won’t highlight them all, but we tried an interesting tea and spice flavored snickerdoodle cookie, a very unique marshmallow and seaweed rice crispy treat thing, and a purple potato cake. In addition to sweets and interesting coffee and tea concoctions, they also serve savory baked goods, like this Chicago style hot dog pastry, which was my favorite of the bunch.

I highly recommend this spot if you’re in Chicago. They serve great food and really inventive cocktails.

FAT RICE
2957 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Mr. Beef

My wife and I hit this joint on the way home from a speakeasy next door called The Drifter. I couldn’t resist with a name like Mr. Beef.

With a no-frills interior and a simple flat top griddle in back, this was a no brainer joint that I had to try.

We took a sandwich to go, with the dip sauce on the side.

Not too bad, but I would have liked a better giardiniera with more than just celery. The spicy peppers were nice though.

Meat quality wasn’t as good as Portillo’s, but it’ll do the job if you’re in a bind.

MR. BEEF
666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654

Gibson’s

Gibson’s overall score: 87

On my first trip to Chicago, I made it a point to hit as many of the old classic steakhouses that I could. Naturally, Gibson’s was my first stop on that list.

Flavor: 7

W.R. Chicago Cut: 8

The WR Chicago Cut is a bone-in wet-aged rib eye. They nailed the medium rare cook temp, and the texture was tender and juicy. It had a great broiled crust as well. The only thing missing was that punch of flavor that I’ve come to love with dry-aging. Otherwise this was a great steak.

Prime Rib: 6

Unfortunately a big portion of this was chewy and not the greatest quality. The cap, however, was incredible. Despite the lighting here, the roast was pretty accurate to medium rare, with some edges coming closer to medium.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

Everything here is the proprietary Gibson’s brand of Angus beef, which they farm out of several ranches nearby. Everything is wet-aged, with the exception of the dry-aged tomahawk. They offer all of the basic four cuts in various sizes and preparations, and they are presented nicely by the waiter before you order.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are pretty good here. The side of broccolini was three huge bunches. The slice of lemon meringue pie was cartoon sized. Plating is fairly basic, but they did a beautiful job with the beef carpaccio.

Price: 9

We had a lot of food for the price here, and it was pretty refreshing to see that some cuts were even under $40.

Bar: 10

This place has a gorgeous, big bar room and lounge beside the main entrance. A perfect place to have a drink. And, of course, they mix a nice Gibson as well.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

The waiter read off a few specials but I didn’t really pay attention, as I was LASER focused on the steaks. Their dry-aged tomahawk is considered a regular special, it seems. Nothing else was offered in the realm of meat cuts. Lamb, pork and chicken are available for alternative proteins.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

One of the cool things about this place is that they give you a soup or house salad with your entree. This is probably common outside of the NYC steakhouse scene, but I thought it was pretty nice. Anyway, the beef carpaccio was our favorite of the accompaniments. It was beautiful and delicious. One of the best I’ve had.

House salad with blue cheese.

Soup of the day – lobster bisque.

Side of spicy roasted broccolini (this was lacking in spice and flavor, and had some unappealing lemon seeds on it).

Massive lemon meringue pie.

Seafood Selection: 9

There were five different seafood entrees on the menu, which makes for a wide variety. They offered salmon, white fish, lobster, bass and halibut.

Service: 9

Our waiter was awesome, knowledgeable and friendly. The bread selection was nice and warm, and the butter was soft.

Ambiance: 10

This place is gorgeous, so no wonder it’s a Chicago icon. There is ample seating indoors and outdoors, lots of elbow room and space, really beautiful and classic fixtures, and  old school decor. I love it.

GIBSON’S
1028 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

Portillo’s

Portillo’s is a Chicago mainstay, so it was only natural that it was our very first stop on a trip to Chicago last weekend.

We ordered two Chicago classics, the Chicago style hot dog (poppy seed bun, sport pepper, yellow mustard, relish, pickle, etc), and the Italian beef sandwich (shaved beef with giardiniera).

The dog was pretty much perfect. I would have liked more sport peppers, but hey. No complaints otherwise.

This was my first time having a proper Chicago Italian beef sandwich, and I was blown away. The dip into Italian herb infused gravy is the perfect way to finish this sandwich, and the spicy giardiniera is the perfect way to get pickled flavors into it. I added some shredded mozzarella for good measure. This is different from a Philly cheesesteak for sure, but I like it much better. It’s more about the beef!

We also tried the chocolate cake shake and the frozen custard, both of which were great desserts.

PORTILLO’S
100 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

You may not know it, but I happen to be a huge pizz-o-phile. Growing up, I was spoiled by having my mother’s homemade pizza available on a nearly daily basis, so I have pretty high standards when it comes to the old sauce, cheese & dough combo. There are lots of different styles of pizza out there. I prefer a very crispy dough/crust, thin, with fresh mozzarella and a nice flavorful tomato sauce. Currently my absolute favorite, outside of my own and my mother’s, is Saluggi’s in Tribeca NY. Thin, crispy, fresh, and fucking delicious.

So anyway – the point of this quick post is to say that ALL New Yorkers are spoiled when it comes to pizza – not just the eye-talians who grew up with great home made shit. We have it made here for food in general, and when it comes to pizza, we are the best (FUCK Chicago – that’s right – I said it…).

That said, I recently became aware of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a budding pizza (and wings) chain. I was fascinated by the pics I saw, and by the method of cooking (mounds of ember-glowing coals roasting the pizza BBQ style in huge ovens), so I had to give it a try.

I must say – I am impressed. This is good pizza. Great sauce, nice crispy crust but with enough depth to satisfy those who like a little more chew or substance to the dough, and good bubbly, quality cheese. If this is the standard that the rest of the country can expect at these establishments, then pizza is finally going to be good outside of NY/NJ/CT/FL. FINALLY the rest of the country will get a taste of what REAL pizza is like. Not Dominos, not Pizza Hut, not California Pizza Kitchen, not Chicago deep dish garbage, which requires a fucking fork and knife instead of a one-hand fold… REAL NY PIZZA.

I wish them great success, and I hope they spread to more states. This is good news for the middle-of-nowhere places that get one of these chains in their strip malls. They will understand finally what pizza really means.

The wings are pretty good to boot. They taste like they’re fresh off the BBQ grill, roasty, crispy, and a little char. Very nice.

Check out the pics:

that's-a-da-pizza
that’s-a-da pizza
20140201_150055_LLS
and that’s-a-da chicken wing

ANTHONY’S COAL FIRED PIZZA
4180 Veterans Memorial Hwy
Bohemia, NY 11716