“Consuming large-format bottles of wine may increase your chance of having fun,” states the cheeky menu at this glamorous, two-story restaurant. With pricey menu items that beg for wine (like caviar-topped deviled eggs), Belinda Chang’s playful wine list offers 50 bottles for under $50.
Riot Dish: “Roasted seafood tower and the baked & loaded potato.”
Q&A with Executive Chef Danny Grant and Beverage Director Belinda Chang
By Ari Bendersky
You both have pretty hefty awards and accolades like Michelin stars and James Beard awards. Do egos ever get in the way?
Danny Grant: No! It’s nice to know I’ve got someone fighting for the service and front of house. I’m able to relax knowing that someone cares the same if not more.
Chicago is a city full of steakhouses; how do you stand apart?
Belinda Chang: Our M.O. is to have everyone feel like they’re celebrating. We’re always thinking of new fun things to do, like having Danny shave truffles into your mouth. We call it Truffle Rain.
You clearly like to have fun with the food and wine. Is there a line you can cross for having too much fun?
DG: If you’re not good at delivering on the other things like the food and wine service, then the fun is out the door. But we’re able to have fun because we know how to run a big restaurant.
BC: When the leaders of the team are laughing and the team is laughing, there’s magic. It did take a while to get the service team to relax and understand what we wanted to do at the tables!
Your list gives equal space to more adventurous bottles as to classics–even suggesting “designer imposters” to old favorites—you’re obviously not bound by traditional steakhouse pairings.
BC: You don’t have to follow rules here. You can do grilled shellfish with red, or steak with white. Asparagus, when charred over the grill, there are so many wines that can complement it. It’s easier to pair with open fire and flame.
How many wines are on the list and why don’t you post it on the website?
BC: It changes so often; things can go in and out in a day. Right now we have about 700 bottles, plus the Coravin. We poured one glass of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2010 Corton Grand Cru for $750 — a quarter of the price of the bottle. The guy always wanted to try it and wanted to see if we would pour it. And we did. Why not?
See More Upgraded Steakhouse Restaurants
At old and new places alike, we love seeing the dogma around steakhouse pairing fall to the wayside. These restaurants not only showcase top-quality meat, but also feature unheralded cuts and unique side dishes that complement the diverse wines.