Cost: Around $70 per person
As I mentioned in my post on Markethouse, Lisa graduated from medical school. A bunch of family came in from out of town to celebrate, and Saturday night the whole gang went out to dinner. They were all staying in the Double Tree in Streeterville, and we wanted to pick somewhere nearby. After some deliberation we ended up at Benny's Chop House.
Benny's is an elegant restaurant split into a bar and variety of dining rooms. It's just off the Magnificent Mile, and our table had a nice view. Although the restaurant was busy, our table was off to the side in an ideal location. We felt like we were out of the hustle of the restaurant, but we were still in earshot of the jazz pianist playing in the bar. I'd definitely suggest making a reservation, especially if you have a large group like we did.
From start to finish the service was impeccable. They printed a menu with a nice big "congratulations Lisa" on the top. Multiple members from the staff in addition to our waiter made sure we had everything we needed throughout the meal. Also, my Aunt and Uncle (the wine connoisseurs) were thoroughly entertained by the two sommeliers. They were able to find a selection of rare European wines amongst the expansive selection of quality choices.
The cost is on par with the other high end steakhouses in Chicago. Appetizers in the low teens, fish in the $25 range, and most steaks from $35-50. Sides were all around $5, and desserts were close to $9.
We started things off with three salads: the Caesar, the Chopped, and the Burrata. The Caesar was lightly dressed with a huge slice of parmesan across the top. The Chopped salad was pretty standard with a sweet dressing. The Burrata was really something interesting. Basically it's a mozzarella like cheese that's thicker on the outside and a bit runny on the inside. It came with roasted peppers and some tomatoes in a balsamic dressing.
The Caesar Salad
The Chopped Salad
The Burrata Salad
For the main course, many of us went with the recommended item in the Dry Aged, Bone-In, 16 oz New York Strip Steak. My (not so little) little cousin Nathan got a Steak Trio, my cousin Annie got the Broiled Jumbo Whitefish, my aunt got the Salmon Special, my uncle got the Beef Tenderloin, Lisa got the Halibut Special, and my mom got an order of the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (mostly with intentions of trying other people's food). The steak was perfectly medium rare with a warm pink center. It had a somewhat "cheesy" taste that I expected with the dry aging. It was juicy, savory, and the best steak I've had in a while. Everyone that ordered it seemed happy as could be, and we all contemplated picking up the bone to gnaw (some of us, who shall remain nameless, went down this road). Nathan devoured his steak in a convincing fashion. Lisa really enjoyed the halibut, but the other two fish dishes were a bit overcooked and dry. My uncle, who has been known to voice his opinion about unappetizing food, had nothing but smiles after polishing off his beef tenderloin.
The Bone In New York Strip Steak
The Steak Trio
The Broiled Jumbo Whitefish
The Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
The Halibut Special
The Beef Tenderloin
The Salmon Special
Along with our mains we got a whole slew of sides including the sweet potatoes, the truffle mashed potatoes, the seasoned mushrooms, creamed spinach, and the blue cheese croquettes. The sweet potatoes were simple, properly prepared, and lightly topped with a syrup of sorts. The truffle mashed potatoes had a pungent aroma and delivered on flavor as well. I don't know if I've come across a steakhouse creamed spinach or mushroom order that I didn't like, and this spinach was unique with a hard boiled egg in the center. I think the crowd favorite was the order of blue cheese croquettes, although the cheese was a bit strong for some.
The Seasoned Mushrooms
The Truffle Mashed Potatoes
Finally for dessert they brought out a gigantic piece of Chocolate Cake for Dr. Pearl. Since that wasn't enough, we also ordered the Key Lime Pie, the House Made Ice Cream, the House Made Sorbet, and the S'more Cheesecake. Also my cousin Daniel got another piece of Cake for his main course (he's quite the trickster). My favorite of these was the Key Lime Pie. The graham cracker crust had the perfect consistency that held on my fork but fell apart immediately when it hit my tongue.
Dr. Lisa Pearl and her Chocolate Cake
The Key Lime Pie
The Home Made Ice Cream
The S'more Cheesecake
The Home Made Sorbet
Chicago is seemingly inundated with quality steakhouses. It becomes important to go with whatever steak they say is their signature. At Benny's they go with the Dry Aged, Bone In, NY Strip, and it delivered big time. Salads, side dishes, and desserts were spot on throughout the meal, especially the Burrata, Croquettes, and Key Lime Pie. The fish had some issues, and although you can say people should order steak at a steakhouse, if it's on the menu it says something about the restaurant. Ultimately it was a classy, high quality experience that was neither gimmicky nor over the top like many steakhouses can be. I'm giving Benny's Chop House 4 out of 5 Pearls.