STK Chicago – Sultry and Swanky Meets Steakhouse
By Samantha Schoville
Sex sells. Admittedly, it can be a little harder to sell in the depths of a Chicago winter when everyone is used to wearing at least three layers. Yet, this didn’t seem to stop the success of a Saturday night at “not your father’s steakhouse” STK Chicago in River North. When we arrived at 7pm, there was already a happy buzz circulating the swanky decor that seems to shout out glamour and glitz. People were dressed to be seen; it was clearly a special night out for multiple 12-top table parties that had come to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or just the freedom of what having money in the Windy City can buy.
Following the valet service, and a coat check at the door, we made our way to our perfectly positioned seat. Perfect, that is, for taking it all in. Chic hostesses sauntered by in tight miniskirts and low-drawn tops; the music of the DJ providing a soundtrack to their walk. We were transported to somewhere else: perhaps late-night Miami or a swanky midnight club in New York.
This isn’t to say that we weren’t delighted (and stuffed) by our decadent meal! We started out our evening with a few drinks in hand. Having recently found out I am pregnant, I asked the obliging bartender to make me a few of the signature drinks sans alcohol. A few minutes later, I got a delicious and refreshing Cucumber Stiletto—one of the classic drinks at STK—infused with Mint and Cucumber. My honey stuck with Not Your Father’s Rootbeer, which is brewed nearby in Wauconda, IL and probably on the list as an allusion to STK Chicago’s catch phrase, “not your daddy’s steakhouse.”
The appetizers were honestly my favorite, starting with a sort of Savory Monkey Bread that was served in a small cast-iron skillet with an accompaniment of brightly colored Chimichurri Sauce. The saltiness of the bread combined with the sauce started us off on the right foot. Next came an entourage of unique and nicely done small plates. We ordered Lil’ BRGs (sliders made of Wagyu Beef in a Sesame Seed Bun with a Special Sauce), Seared Scallops on top of a Sweet Squash Puree topped with Short Rib Marmlade, Pomegranates and Pepitas, and Tuna Tartare, which sat on a delicate bed of Avocado and Soy Honey Emulsion. We also shared the Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad tossed with raw Brussel Sprouts, Julienned Apples, Dried Cranberries, Aged Goat Cheese and Marcona Almonds. The appetizers alone could have satisfied us. We were put into a blissful state by all the masterfully assembled plates.
The cooks gave us a little spacing out before our entrées, which was welcomed. While we hung out, we had time to listen more closely to some of the beats the DJ was playing. Thankfully, it was not too loud to talk and the music seemed just about right.
At last, the entrées arrived: a 6 oz Filet Medallion and a Seared Tuna Steak served with Sweet Corn Pudding and Parmesan Truffle Fries. The filet arrived with all eight sauces that can be ordered: STK, Au Poivre, Horseradish, Chimichurri, Blue Butter, Béarnaise, Red Wine, and STK Bold. I settled on all the sauces that were white, giving in to my Wisconsin background of butter and cheese. The tuna steak came with Pickled Honshimeji Mushrooms and Charred Scallions with Miso. When we took a bite of tuna and honshimeji mushrooms together, we realized what a potent, vinegary pack they punched. The entrees left the both of us satisfied and reiterated what everyone probably already knew: you come to a steak house not for the vegetables, but for the meat.
Though the house graciously offered dessert, we were simply stuffed. However, The Candy Bar, which is a “combination of all your favorite candy bars rolled into one” is a hands-down favorite at STK, as well as the Banana Cream Pie, served in an aesthetically pleasing glass-jar. I fully intend to return for the drinks and desserts I missed out on.
STK is certainly intended for a celebratory evening out. Appetizers averaged at about $20 a plate and entrées were around $40. Also, if you are interested in booking a party at STK, there are four private rooms that hold 10 and 24 people, which can also be combined for larger parties. The management seemed to be running a smooth and confident operation that was able to handle a busy Saturday night.
In all things in life, know thyself. If you’re the type of person who just can’t turn away from shiny objects and things named Luxe, STK Chicago is for you. If you love a party-vibe, the occasional free shots being sent your way on your birthday, if you dream of perhaps achieving the type of status that would warrant paparazzi at your heels, STK Chicago will make you feel like you’ve made it. I, for one, didn’t know quite how much I would enjoy that experience until I did. Here’s to eating well, and enjoying life in the Windy City at STK!