Sunday, December 4, 2016


I have mentioned Knife before, having attended a few preview dinners at sister restaurant Fork.  I recently had dinner at the newly opened and aptly named steakhouse.  I did joke about the name and the number of utensil named restaurants are in Chicago, but naming a steakhouse Knife seems very appropriate.  The space is small, seating about 50 people and the vibe is both retro and rustic with a hardwood floors and walls, a maple colored wood bar and wood furniture.  There are several booths with half-round seats covered in white leather and the wood walls are laid in a chevron pattern.  The bar is in the back half of the dining area opposite several booths.  The entrance is through a hall that enters into the dining room in about the center of the room.  We were seated at a table in the front half of the restaurant although near the center of the dining room, so we were relatively close to the entrance.  The menu was printed on two large sheets, one for food and one for spirits.  The cocktail list was very interesting with the names of the cocktails coming from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and the definition of each sorrow was included on the menu.  In addition to these, they have beer, wine, and four classic cocktails that are made table side.  While Vermodalen (The frustration of photographing something and knowing that thousands of identical photos already exist.) did catch my eye, and was in fact ordered by my table mate, the obscure cocktail that I ordered was called Exulansis (The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it).  It was made with Snap-pea infused St. George Botanivore Gin, Chamomile Syrup, Aloe, and Lemon Juice.  It did have a vegetal flavor from the snap peas, but the overarching flavor was very floral with a tart finish from the lemon juice.  It was a little more floral than I would normally drink, but it was pretty good despite that.
While there are several things on the menu that are not a steak, and considering the talented chef, Tim Cottini, I am sure that they would be very good, coming to a place that at its heart is a steakhouse and not ordering steak would have been a shame.  While the plan was ultimately to order a steak, I wanted to try an appetizer as well.  With that thought in mind, I ordered Oxtail Doughnut Holes which were served with Au Poivre Sauce.  The balls of deep fried dough were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a pice ofvery savory, tender and juicy oxtail.  They were good on their own, but the Au Poivre sauce added a nice peppery finish.

The steaks at Knife are dry aged in house and unlike many other places, it is unnecessary to order a giant steak that will feed two (or more) people.  The size of the steak is listed on the menu and while there is one large steak (28 oz) for two, most of the other steaks come in sizes between 6 and 12 oz and are priced accordingly.   All of the steaks can be ordered with a variety of sauces and additions, but they all come with a choice of frites or onion strings as well as a housemade Journeyman Steak Sauce and a Lemon Aioli.  There are also a variety of sides that can be ordered for an additional fee.  While I generally like my steaks Au Poivre, I ordered Three Medallions (Filet Mignon) that came with a Blue Cheese Crust (which came with the steak sauce, aioli, and my choice between Smoked Frites and Onion Strings, which was the frites) so an additional sauce was unnecessary.  On the side, I ordered  River Valley Mushrooms En Papillote (Cooked in Parchment) with Portobello, Shiitake, and Cremini Mushrooms, seasoned with Rosemary, Garlic and Bay.  Everything was excellent.  The blue cheese on the very tender medallions was very flavorful.  I would not normally use a sauce on a good steak, I did try it to taste the sauce.  The sauces were good, but unnecessary for the steak, and I used them more for the frites.  The mushrooms were also tender and flavorful with the spices really contributing to the flavor.  They went very well with the steak.

There were several things of interest listed on the dessert menu, but there was one thing that went to the head of the line when I saw it.  In one of the preview dinners, Chef Tim did a Baked Alaska for dessert using 151 Rum for the fuel for the fire.  When lighting one of ours at the table, he nearly set his face on fire.  Despite this mishap, it was a fantastic dessert in taste and presentation and he carried a variation over to the dessert menu at Knife.  This dessert, called The Gran Torino topped a Sponge cake with Raspberry and Pistachio Ice Creams and a Marshmallow "crust" that was roasted tableside on a cart similar to the cart that carried all of our food to the table.  When the Gran Torino arrived, it was topped with 151 Rum and torched to develop a nice char on all sides.  When it burned for a little while it was put out by covering it.  It was then cut and served.  It was fantastic and a great finish to a very good meal.  I really enjoyed dinner here as well as having the opportunity to talk to Chef Tim.  I would definitely enjoy a trip back and recommend it to my friends that enjoy a very good steak.   

1 comment:

  1. Well done (in a good way) and nicely written!