Reputation at Steak

If you were to brainstorm a list of words that describe Chicago, you might consider the following:
• Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls
• Deep-dish pizza
• Oprah Winfrey
• Michigan Avenue
• Steakhouses
• Windy city
• John Hancock Center
• Batman
• Chicago fire
• The Second City
• Millennium Park
• Taste of Chicago
• Jazz music
• Navy Pier
• Museum Campus
• Vienna beef
• Blackhawks, Cubs, White Sox
• “Da Bears” slogan
• Annual Pride Parade
• Green Chicago River
• Chicago Tribune

Chicago’s Steakhouses
Fifth from the top of my list are steakhouses. Gourmet steaks date back to 1919 and exist today as one of the first few mail order steak companies. Almost a century later, Chicago’s chophouses are still serving top-notch quality meat with a modern or traditional spin on the dining experience. Either way, you’re sure to leave Chicago’s renowned steakhouses full and satisfied. Only primal cuts of beef from quality Midwestern cattle are selected. If you want someone to recommend the best steakhouse, don’t bother. Chicago locals share different opinions about which steakhouse classifies as one of the best or number one. Why are there so many different views? Reason being, there are more than 214 steakhouses in Chicago. How do you choose the best one if you haven’t eaten at all of them? I provided a list of Chicago steakhouses that “made the cut” according to myself and a few of my closest peers.

entrees

Steaks and chops from the Chicago Chop House

Gene and Georgetti
David Burke’s Primehouse
Chicago Firehouse
Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse
The Chicago Chop House
• Tavern On Rush
• Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse
• Morton’s, The Steakhouse
• Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab
• Keefer’s
• Erie Café
• O’Brien’s Restaurant
• Sullivan’s Steakhouse
• The Capital Grille
• Rosebud Prime
• Lawry’s The Prime Rib
• Smith and Wollensky
• Benny’s Chop House
• Kinzie Chophouse
• La Cantina Grill
• Folklore
• Tango Sur

How to find the best steakhouse for you?
1. Find a steakhouse that specializes in the cooking style you enjoy.
2. The interior of a steakhouse must be appealing and drawing to you.
3. A bread basket is provided the moment you sit down.
4. Fast and friendly service
5. There should a variety of sides to choose from: creamed corn, spinach, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, ect.
6. Review the menu’s prices prior to making a reservation. Steakhouses can run on the pricier side so choose a restaurant that works with your wallet.
7. If the weather is nice, see if outdoor seating is available.
8. Make sure a steakhouse offers the seating option you prefer: booths, bar stools, ect.
9. Do your research. Ask your waiter or waitress about meat specifics. Where does it come from? What cut of beef is recommended?
10. Is there a pianist or another kind of entertainment offered? It’s important to ask because entertainment can be of annoyance or distracting to some customers.

Images provided by Chicago Chop House

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Food Therapy

In Chef's Hands logo

In Chef's Hands logo


Chicago’s chefs are giving back and people are noticing. These culinary masters don’t create fine cuisine without involving the community. In December 2010, Chef Rodelio Aglibot, Scott Crane, Chef Todd Stein and Jeremy Dubin founded In Chef’s Hands. This nonprofit fundraiser is dedicated to providing culinary educational experiences with renowned chefs for individuals with special needs who have a passion for food and cooking. The participants with special needs or illnesses will engage in activities tailored to their interests. This can include anything from choosing ingredients from a farmers’ market to learning how to use knives. Events are held throughout the year at different restaurants in the city. Appetizers and beverages will be served to those who attend. The cost to be a part of this rewarding fundraiser is $25.

To become a volunteer fill out an application

Background Information

Scott Crane

Scott Crane


The organization stemmed from Scott Crane, a “food lover extraordinaire” and victim of Centronuclear Myopathy, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy that weakens every muscle in the body. In junior high school, Crane’s day-to-day routine was spent sitting in a wheelchair. After Crane graduated from high school and community college, he worked at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Crane was placed in a Midwest Hospice due to his condition weakening. His social worker asked, “Is there anything we can do for you?” Crane responded with “cooking therapy. Cooking heals the soul.” Crane got in touch with Chicago chefs to develop In Chef’s Hands.

For more information on In Chef’s Hands, contact Michael Crane at 847-826-2065

Founders’ Thoughts
“Teaching is probably one of my favorite things about being a chef. It’s really about having a one-on-one interaction with the participants, the foodies” – Chef Rodelio Aglibot

“The goal of this organization is to inspire and educate both the chefs and special needs individuals.” – Scott Crane

“We wanted to do something that could help others, and we wanted to raise money for this wonderful organization that has helped me so much” – Scott Crane

Check out Chef Scott Crane’s blog

Rodelio Aglibot and Scott Crane

Chef Rodelio Aglibot teaches Scott Crane how to make sushi


Public Relations and In Chef’s Hands
In my opinion, this is a positive representation of the restaurant scene in Chicago. It’s important for organizations to complete communal duties. These fundraising events introduce the chefs of Chicago to the public. In Chef’s Hands builds relationships and educates people about the disabled. It’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how delicious cuisine is created and what it can do for someone with special needs. Food is a great way to bring people together for a good cause. The directors and chefs of In Chef’s Hands use social media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to create a buzz about the organization. The movement is spreading at a rapid pace. My only criticism is the lack of a content-rich site for the organization. The site lacks color, multimedia, an online media kit and design elements created for the organization’s disabled audience. An organization that is created to help people with special needs should have a site designed to be accessible. I recommend adding audio, photographs with captions and color-coded elements. Take note founders!

Images provided by AOL and In Chef’s Hands Facebook page

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Appetizing Deals

Chicago offers a variety of dining options for visitors and residents. According to the Chicago Life 2009-2010 handbook, there are more than 6,000 restaurants in Chicago. At least 200 of these restaurants celebrated the Fourth Annual Chicago Restaurant Week event at the end of February. Why should you care about an event that already happened? At least 60 Chicago restaurants extended the menu deals from the event. Three-course lunches cost $22 and dinners are anywhere from $33 to $44 excluding beverages, tax and gratuity. The extension deals vary depending on the restaurant so don’t wait until it’s too late. Book an online reservation now to take advantage of the Chicago Restaurant Week event.

Chicago Restaurant Week

Tuscany on Taylor, the Italian restaurant I previously blogged about, is on the list of restaurant participants. If you haven’t already been to this romantic restaurant, now is the time to book a reservation. Tuscany has deals available through March 31.

If you didn’t participate in the Fourth Annual Chicago Restaurant Week event, this video will fill you in on why you must utilize the deal extension and plan ahead for the Fifth Annual Chicago Restaurant Week event in 2012. NBC interviews Chef Craig from the Naha restaurant. This is one example of the great deals you can receive for eating delicious Chicago food. If you decide to participate in this event, your wallet will be thankful.

Public Relations and Chicago Restaurants
The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau hosts Chicago Restaurant Week every year. Restaurant participants use community promotion to market deals and generate revenue during the event. Last year, the promotion generated $11.6 million in revenue from 177 restaurants and 335,000 diners. The event assists restaurants during their slowest time of the year. New and existing customers share their experiences by word-of-mouth marketing. More information about word-of-mouth marketing can be found in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Also, traditional media outlets like ABC and NBC produced news coverage for the event. Restaurants use Groupon or Restaurant.com to promote their menus resulting in a stronger network of customers.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic Inc., a food industry research and consulting firm, said restaurant weeks are long-term investments, not short-term cash boosts.

“Trial use will likely lead to repeat business, assuming the restaurant executes well,” said Tristano. “Groupon is more focused on very value-seeking customers who are looking for a deal, not a new restaurant they can frequent.”

“Trial use will likely lead to repeat business, assuming the restaurant executes well,” said Tristano. “Groupon is more focused on very value-seeking customers who are looking for a deal, not a new restaurant they can frequent.”

Amy Larrick, director of marketing at Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants, says restaurant week is an opportunity “to provide an affordable snapshot of what you think you do best” and attract new diners.

Larrick notices a greater public response and community involvement each year. She said continuous marketing throughout the event is more valuable than Group’s “one-shot deal” structure.

Check out Chicago Restaurant Week 2011 media kit

Quotes by Medill and images by Free Things to Do in Chicago

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Dawg Dropping

February isn’t the best time of the year for “good” weather. The excessive snow, ice, and, wind chill are the reasons why I have an addiction to my monthly calendar. At the end of each day, I draw an “x” on my calendar then glance at how much time is left until the warm weather approaches. There’s a lot to look forward to during the spring and summer seasons. A combination of outdoor activities and no school appears to put everyone in a much better mood.

After the cold weather runs its course, I think about the foods that I anticipate eating during the warmer seasons. A hot dog with a side of French fries is what I consider my ultimate comfort spring and summertime food. I enjoy eating at a lot of hot dog stands but one in particular managed to turn its hot dog heroic: the Superdawg restaurant.

In May of 1948, a hot dog stand was established in Milwaukee, Devon, and Nagle. This family owned and operated restaurant strives to serve Chicagoans the most memorable piece of beef paired with a poppy seed bun. This “dawg” is juicy, tender, and, melts in your mouth- with or without the trimmings.

Superdawg restaurant

Superdawg restaurant

Placing the Order
The experience presents itself from the moment you place an order at the 1950s style drive-in. No need to get out of your car, just simply order through the retro metallic speaker box and a waiter or waitress will serve your meal on a tray that hooks onto your car door. The hot dog is delivered in a red decorative cardboard box with your choice of golden mustard, tangy piccalilli, a kosher pickle, chopped onion, and hot peppers. The exhilaration you get from these complementing ingredients will have you begging for more.

The Superdawg

The Superdawg

Superfries
The hot dog is accompanied by an order of Superfries. Yes, these aren’t just ordinary French fries. There is a reason why these fries are described as “super.” Slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and creamy on the inside is in my opinion, why these particular fries are ranked superior in comparison to others. Several hot dog stands attempt to recreate the Superfry recipe. Superfries have been imitated but never duplicated.
Locations and Hours

The Media
Superdawg continues to be recognized by the media as a leading hot dog stand in Chicago. Check out the videos below to observe the Superdawg in action.



What do the customers remember?
“My fondest memory of Chicago is and will always be “Superdawg”- Marilyn

“Superdawg is a gathering place, a place where families can go and be together. The good times and the bad… Superdawg is a part of Chicago, a part of our family that will never be forgotten”- Mark

“It never ceases to amaze me how such a wonderful food creation has withstood the test of time and still has that memorable taste it had almost 50 years ago”- Tom

“It’s not a hot dog, it’s not a wiener, it’s the ultimate experience”- Anonymous

Submit your memory to don@superdawg.com or check out more reviews

Images provided by Superdawg and Passionate Eater

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RL: Restaurant Legacy

If I’m having a bad day, there are two ways for me to rectify it. I can purchase clothes, shoes, jewelry, or bags on my favorite online site, shopbop.com, or I can go out to eat with my boyfriend, friends, or family. Fashion and food are two loves that I can’t see myself living without. Both instill a feeling of joy following anticipation.

After making a purchase online, I look forward to receiving the package. I think of it as buying a gift for myself. When the package arrives, excitement arises immediately. This same reaction occurs when I bite into a tasty meal. Going to a restaurant and deciding on what to order makes me forget about what went wrong earlier that day.

Ralph Lauren fashion

Ralph Lauren fashion


Merging fashion and food would be just what the doctor ordered to cure one of my bad days. Does this exist? In Chicago, I came across a restaurant that did just this. Ralph Lauren is a fashion designer recognized for redefining American style about 40 years ago. In 1999, this designer opened up RL, a restaurant that combines food and a vision inspired by American classics. RL is located .09 miles away from the four-story Ralph Lauren flagship store. A map is available to view.

RL interior

RL restaurant


The restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and brunch with an American twist. American classic foods, such as, seafood, steaks, chops, salads, and sandwiches were used as inspiration for the menus. Renowned fashion designers put a high price tag on their clothing so don’t expect the menu at RL to be any easier on your wallet. The two cheapest main plates on the dinner menu are the Amish chicken for $21.50 and the stuffed pork tenderloin for $29.50. The menu and prices are subject to change daily.

The ambiance is luxurious from the wood interior to the brown leather seating. The walls appear as art displays of Ralph Lauren’s photographs and sketches. During the week, the bar is open every night until midnight. A reservation isn’t required at RL but I suggest you call 312-475-1100 or reserve online if you want to dine at the restaurant over the weekend. The tables tend to fill up very quickly. When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, I recommend outdoor seating. Ralph Lauren didn’t neglect the American style outside. The blue chairs, white tablecloths and white flowers look à la mode against the wooden window sills.

RL outdoor seating

RL outdoor seating


Reviews
“Design mogul Ralph Lauren’s first restaurant venture, next door to the largest Polo store in the world, unmistakably announces private club: very British, very swanky, very posh. It begins with the small bar at the front, with its black marble fireplace, mahogany paneling and brass- and ebony cocktail tables. The dining room beyond completes the image. Its navy blue walls, interspersed with more mahogany, are covered with artwork from Lauren’s private collection. Herringbone hardwood floors lead to plush, caramel leather- upholstered chairs and banquettes”- CS (Chicago Social)

“The dining room features the vision and style of Mr. Lauren and classic, but inventive, American cuisine”- Front Desk Magazine

RL was named as one of the “Ten Reasons why the Windy City is leaving shoppers breathless”- Harper’s Bazaar

Images provided by RL, Rachel, Bentley Smith

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LOVE is in the air

Spend Valentine’s Day with the one you love at a restaurant where the food is cooked with care and the atmosphere resembles a Tuscan romance. Located at the heart of Little Italy, Tuscany is a hot spot for couples in Chicago. It’s the ideal Italian experience without spending money for a plane ticket to fly across the world.

Tuscany restaurant

Tuscany restaurant


Italian Food
The dinner menu includes a variety of mouthwatering dishes. The executive chef uses traditional Italian flavors to prepare each dish. All pasta entrees, such as, paglia e fieno, pappardelle, ravioli alla pera, agnolotti alla zucca and capellini are available with tomato or bolognese sauce. Don’t hesitate to eat at Tuscany if you can’t interpret these Italian entrees. Everything on the menu has a description so you know what you’re ordering. If you prefer meat instead of pasta, order the veal medallions drizzled with pinot grigio or the pan seared chicken breast in a chardonnay reduction sauce paired with spinach. Exclusive entrees will be served on Valentine’s Day for you and your special someone.

Ravioli Alla Pera

Ravioli Alla Pera


What’s a romantic dinner without a glass of wine? There are over 100 wines to choose from. Reserve selections, Italian white and red wine, champagne, sparkling wine, and more are offered by the glass or bottle.

Why I enjoy eating at Tuscany?
Tuscany really strives to bring Italy to Chicago. The service and atmosphere convey a welcoming presence, similar to what you would experience in Italy. When I traveled to Italy, some of the best food I tasted was served at the restaurants with minimal decor. The focus was more on what was being served as oppose to the atmosphere. Tuscany resembles a simplistic ambiance and serves “one-of-a-kind” dishes. What Chicago restaurant do you enjoy eating at on Valentine’s Day?

Check out what other people are saying about Tuscany.

How’s the service?
The staff is welcoming and dedicated to providing superior service. Also, they are willing to assist you if there are any questions or concerns about the menu. Their friendly attitudes make for a better dining experience. Valet parking is available if needed.

Can I plan a Valentine’s Day event?
Dine out with all of the people you love by reserving the Tuscany private dining room. This section of the restaurant will accommodate up to 50 people. Check the Tuscany calendar to locate events at the restaurant. For more information on renting out the restaurant space contact Alex Prekurat, the private dining manager, at (312) 829-1990.

Tuscany Hours
Lunch:
Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Dinner:
Monday – Thursday 3:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday 3:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Tuscany locations

Tuscany locations


Tuscany Locations
1014 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Directions
Online reservations

1415 W. 22nd St.
Oak Brook, Illinois 60521
T: (630) 990-1993

550 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Wheeling, Illinois 60090
T: (847) 465-9988

Tuscany Café
United Building
77 W. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60601
T: (312) 252-0863

Images provided by Tuscany

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Gone Fishin’… For Sushi

Tank Sushi isn’t a restaurant for amateur sushi eaters. If you’re somebody who orders the traditional California roll at every sushi restaurant because you’re afraid to sample other options, then Tank Sushi isn’t the restaurant for you. The ideal customer for this restaurant isn’t afraid of trying new foods and doesn’t get disgusted at the sight of raw fish.

The Food
There are 23 sashimi options and 48 maki rolls including, kani, ocean sundae, orange crush, empire, and Alaskan night. Before diving into one or more of these sushi dishes, you might want to consider ordering from the “small plates” section of the menu. Tank Sushi offers baked mussels, firecracker shrimp, tuna tartar, and shrimp shumai. These “small plates” are priced from $2.10 to $16.10 and well worth your money. Tank Sushi isn’t one of those Asian restaurants where you skip ordering dessert because the options are just mediocre. The desserts are a mixture of sweet decadence and Japanese components. The egg roll, tempura ice cream, dragon, mochi, and trio of chocolate are sinfully rewarding desserts.

dragon maki

dragon maki


rainbow maki

rainbow maki


sashimi ume

sashimi ume


Inside Tank Sushi
Tank Sushi will deliver any dish listed on the menu for a delivery fee of $2.50. If you’re a first timer, I recommend dining at the restaurant to experience why people are raving about this place. Tank Sushi has a laid back and simplistic atmosphere with stylish undertones. Shades of blue, gray, and brown decorate the restaurant’s interior. The wall fixtures and furniture radiate Asian chic, just like the menu.

“This Lincoln Square hot spot distinguishes itself with consistently fresh ingredients and perfectly seasoned rice…Chef Pat Sang serves up delicate cuts of salmon, white tuna rivaling the best places in town. The small plates are as good as the sushi”– Time Out Chicago

“Tank’s expansive menu offers a full slate of sushi, plus small plates of delectable fusion fare like firecracker shrimp wrapped in crispy wontons and meaty barbecue pork ribs with five spice honey-tamarind glaze, though sushi lovers will want to get straight to generous maki rolls like the ocean sundae (shrimp tempura, avocado, cream cheese and tempura crumbs)”- Chicago magazine

“Stylish yet laid back and family friendly. The utter simplicity of the room is all the better to put the focus on the excellent sashimi and sushi, as well as 20 or so small plates”– The New York Times

Tank Sushi restaurant

Tank Sushi restaurant


Alcohol Anyone?
At night, Tank Sushi becomes a local hotspot for adults where they can relax and order a martini for $10. If weather permits, outdoor dining is available May until October. There are 13 kinds of martinis, 18 different wines, and more than 16 sakes to choose from.
wine and saki

wine and saki


Whether you stop in to have a drink or sit down for a meal, you won’t leave Tank Sushi unhappy.

Hours
Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Monday – Thurs. 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Specials
Daily half-price select maki rolls
Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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