• Entertainment

    A Cut Above

    • Sep 11, 2020

    • By:Peter Wren

    When it comes to high-end steak houses, it’s clear that competition breeds better cuts of beef.


    Consider what’s happened with the chic new steak palaces around town. Looking to stand out from the crowd, chefs are sourcing, dry-aging and firing up exquisitely flavorful cuts from specialty producers near and far. These days, it’s not hard to find a well-cooked piece of beef, but for the ultimate steak experience, look no further than our exquisite lineup below.




    Swift & Sons Porterhouse



    Dry-Aged Kansas City Strip

    Price: $59
    By the time one of Swift & Sons’ bone-in 18-ounce Kansas City strips makes its way to your plate, it will have been dry-aged for 75 days according to strict instructions laid down by chef Chris Pandel. Unlike so many other dry-aged steaks, which can overpower you with too much farmhouse funk, Pandel’s cuts deliver some of the cleanest, pure-beef flavors in the city.


    Sourced form Kansas and Nebraska cattle and dry-aged by Chicago’s own Purely Beef, these are Midwestern steaks with Midwestern flavor profiles. They deliver rounded corn-fed flavors and seep juices that taste like broth preserved from a bowl of French onion soup.


    They’re delicious straight up, but a dollop of one of Pandel’s scratch-made sauces makes them otherworldly. All steaks come with a trio of sauces — horseradish cream, a Worcestershire-rich steak sauce and béarnaise — but adding a touch of the house’s anchovy butter generates a surf-and-turf delight like no other.



    Prime & Provisions Bone-in Filet



    Bone-in Filet

    Price: $68
    You’ll get more than your money’s worth by ordering one of Prime & Provisions’ deep-flavored dry-aged steaks, which are aged on premises for maximum freshness. Those seeking the pinnacle of tenderness should find their way to the house’s wet-aged bone-in filet.


    Broiled at more than a thousand degrees and topped with grass-fed butter that melts into every crack and crevice, it’s the ultimate rebuttal to the argument that filets can’t be flavorful.


    Sourced from Creekstone Farms in Kansas, it’s part of Prime & Provisions’ “never-ever” guarantee, which ensures that all of its steaks are never exposed to antibiotics, growth hormones or pesticides. By letting the cattle freely roam the Kansas countryside, grazing as they like, Prime & Provisions delivers humanely raised steaks that are also some of the most tender and juicy cuts in town.



    Eisenhower Porterhouse from Maple & Ash


    MAPLE & ASH:

    Eisenhower Porterhouse

    Price: $145
    Legend has it that when President Eisenhower wanted a steak, he gave very specific orders on how to cook it. Find the thickest steak possible, rub it down with oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and then cook it directly on top of fiery red-hot coals.


    Was it a good steak? Hard to know, but one suspects it might have di culty comparing to the 40-ounce “Eisenhower” porterhouse that Danny Grant fires up at Maple & Ash.


    The same principles are at work — searing heat, garlic, lots of meat — but Grant plunges his porterhouse directly in the red-hot coals and embers of a giant wood-fired hearth. Then he dips the steak in “beef butter” made from reduced red wine, garlic and beef stock before gently warming it on the smoky side of a grill.


    The result is a crispy envelope of char surrounding a beefy center that’s as soft as Salisbury steak. When paired with the house mashed potatoes topped with Perigord truffle gravy, you wonder how it would have stood up to Eisenhower’s. This is beef and potatoes for the sophisticated set. Somewhere, Ike must be smiling.





    Tomahawk at Ill Forks



    Strube Family Tomahawk Ribeye

    Price: $190
    Easily the most Instagram-worthy steak in Chicago. Served next to a flaming mound of grey sea salt that’s been dipped in Jim Beam and lit on fire, this 46-ounce rib-eye is so massive it has to be served on a giant wooden butcher’s block.


    The presentation is elegantly primal. Fire. Bone. Wood. The flavors, however, are nuanced, in part because it’s well-marbled American Wagyu from the Strube Family, who’ve been raising cattle since 1907.


    If there was ever a steak worth sharing this is it. Most of the 20-inch bone that curls from the end of the steak is purely for show. But when you carve in close to that bone you get incredibly deep flavors. Think bone marrow meets oxtail. Because it’s been cooked in an infrared broiler and then finished in the oven, the edges of the steak are confit-crisp, while its interior is juicy, bulls-eye red. The result is three different steaks on a single plate.