Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grass Fed Chicago {Restaurant Review}

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A few weeks ago, The Baron and I had a lovely date night in Chicago where we dined at Grass Fed - a restaurant located in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago's north side. We had a delicious time and already look forward to going back again. This contemporary American restaurant is straightforward with their offerings, where the highlight are their prix fixe dinners. From three distinct options ranging from steak, fish or chicken, the prix fixe dinner includes a market salad with housemade bread and hand-cut fries. It's a fine meal at a bargain!

The Baron and I had a good idea of what we wanted to order before hand. We started off with the Steak Tartare of grass fed sirloin, soft poached egg and housemade bread. The tartare was delicious and so tender and flavorful. The poached egg definitely made it even more luxurious.

Being the traditional 'meat & potatoes' guy, The Baron ordered the Grass Fed steak prix fixe dinner. He also added to his meal a side of Curried Cauliflower (with chickpeas, capers and cilantro). I took advantage of the evening special - grass fed veal short ribs and Butternut Squash (with house-cured veal bacon, rosemary and maple syrup.) The combination of the short ribs and squash were perfect together since the flavors complimented each other perfectly.

To end our meal, The Baron and I also ordered dessert. He ordered the Profiteroles while I had the Flourless Chocolate Cake. The 3 large Profiteroles were huge and filled with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with chocolate. The Baron enjoyed it so much that I barely got a chance to get a taste lol. The Flourless Chocolate Cake was good and quite a healthy portion that I couldn't finish it.


All in all, our meal and experience was wonderful at Grass Fed and we both look forward to returning again for lunch or even brunch on the weekend. If you're in Chicago or happen to be in the Bucktown neighborhood, definitely consider Grass Fed as a place to check out. The menu may not be expansive but of what they do offer, they do very well and with confidence. That alone is better than having way too many dishes on a menu which come out mediocre at best.

I had a chance to interview the owner of Grass Fed, Scott Kay. Here's some of the things we chatted about, which gave me much more appreciation towards the restaurant before we visited...


1.   What inspired you to become a restaurant owner with the simple approach of this fixed price concept?
Having owned a restaurant in Los Angeles for a few years that is a relatively complex farm-to-table style restaurant, I really felt there was an opportunity to do something that would be simpler in its approach and create a unique, relaxed dining environment. I often feel overwhelmed, especially in large groups when attempting to order from large menus. There is often "plate envy" and the process I feel can often take away the natural element of a comfortable dining experience. Hence I wanted a concept that would allow people to dine in an affordable, relaxing and stress-free environment. For me, a simplicity in the menu reflects that.

2.   What challenges and/or successes has the restaurant experienced with the straightforward and simple menu (single beef/poultry/seafood option with a handful of sides)? 
What is true of restaurants in general is true for us: you can't please everyone! The true challenge is therefore managing expectations. You don't want a guest to come in and be surprised by the limited menu. Our staff does an amazing job to show that despite a simple menu, you can have a very enjoyable meal even if you have very specific tastes. For example, our sides and starters offer a large vegetarian option, and if ordered appropriately, you can enjoy a meal without even partaking in the fixed price options. I really think the Bucktown community has responded very well to our philosophy. We have a great contingent of regulars who frequent Grass Fed.

3.   Seeing that lunch service was recently added, what are some other future plans for the restaurant, if any? 
Lunch and brunch have been very successful, thus far. From here, we would like to continue to emphasize our offerings during the day. People relied on Caffe De Luca as a casual non-chain spot that they could eat and drink coffee at during the day. We want to continue that trend. We may contemplate adding a breakfast offering at some point in the future but are happy to continue updating our current offerings. As for our dinner program, we have a few tricks up our sleeves! We are testing a few different cuts of steak that we may offer as specials in the future and we are always looking for new fresh and exciting sides and starters to work into the rotation. We also love to make things in-house. We have been playing with our house-made beef jerky and our smoker is getting quite a bit of use for our beef bacon and even the house-smoked bourbon.

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