MEAT AND GREET The hand-cut filet mignon is available in three sizes.
Build it and they will come wasn’t said with Chicago steakhouses in mind. But these days it seems fitting, with the opening of a number of new meat markets that continue to attract crowds of hungry carnivores. (Why many of them have an ampersand in their name remains a mystery.)
For DineAmic Group’s Lucas Stoioff and David Rekhson (Bar Siena and Siena Tavern, among others), creating the Loop’s Prime & Provisions struck a personal chord. “When we go out for a nice dinner, it’s often at a classic steakhouse,” says Stoioff. “We always thought it’d be great to do our own one day.” Judging from the packed dining room on my visits, P&P’s diners think it’s pretty great too.
Rather than create a steakhouse of yore, the duo opted to tweak the formula. “You have to keep that balance of giving people something new and giving them what they want,” says Rekhson. Set inside a 100-year-old building on Wacker Drive south of the river, P&P captures everything people love about the beloved restaurant tradition while gently nudging it into the future.
That means in the dining room, you’ll find half-circle leather booths, white tablecloths, dramatic light fixtures and gleaming wood floors. The lower ceiling adds some intimacy to the 148-seat space, which feels like a cross between a dining car on a fancy train—El trains outside the windows enhance the vibe—and a throwback supper club. The energy gets turned up in the front lounge area, where the curved bar and smattering of high-top tables attract a lively afterwork crowd clutching long-stemmed glasses of red wine, expertly made martinis and etched-glass tumblers of scotch. (The dark-liquor lover in my group was happy to see Macallan 18 year on the ample list.) Don’t be surprised to hear Jimi Hendrix or Aerosmith above the din.
Along with Executive Chef Anthony Fraske (Shaw’s Crab House, Weber Grill), Stoioff and Rekhson did plenty of research before deciding on offering only USDA all-natural prime heritage Black Angus beef from Kansas’ Creekstone Farms. Aged in-house for 40 days—get a glimpse of the aging room via a small window in the dining room—the meat is simply finished with a dab of Wisconsin grass-fed butter. Its earthy aroma lovingly fills the dining room and beyond. The steak list isn’t lengthy, but the usual suspects are all there, including a flavorful bone-in New York strip. I’m not quite sure of the advantages of the 600-degree plate on which it’s served—you can request to opt out—but our sliced medium-rare meat did stay warm and, more importantly, juicy during our leisurely meal.
First and second courses step beyond the boundaries of typical steakhouse fare without straying into unfamiliar territory. Grapefruit segments add some sweetness and acidity to the roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Cauliflower, quickly replacing Brussels sprouts as this year’s “it” vegetable, is pickled and then topped with arugula, carrot strips and feta. Adding to the colorful mix is the cauliflower’s unexpected purple hue. A Caesar gets some oomph with the addition of lump crab and ribbons of Tuscan kale. And if you prefer to precede your meat entree with, um, more meat, get the uberthick slice of bacon lacquered with maple syrup and dark chocolate, which, like the steaks, announces its arrival via its alluring scent.
You don’t have to eat red meat, though, to appreciate P&P. Fraske does a wonderful version of chicken Vesuvio, crispy potato wedges and all. There’s broiled wild salmon on the menu, but if the striped bass special is available, get it. Its outside surface was perfectly caramelized, while its interior was moist and flaky.
Side dishes—labeled Escorts on the menu—include the creamy whipped potatoes with a horseradish-Parmesan crust and an indulgent macaroni and cheese, which can be “souped up,” as our server offered, with bacon or lobster. Vinegary sauteed mushrooms offer a nice counterpoint to the richness.
There are plenty of desserts to choose from, but once you see the presentation of the Tableside Smores, it’s hard to resist. A Nerf ball-sized chocolate orb sits on a bed of graham cracker crumbs and chocolate-marshmallow sauce. Warm chocolate sauce poured over it melts the shell and releases the smoke captured inside, and reveals the gooey mix of ice cream, marshmallows and, yes, more chocolate. It’s a wonderful riff on a classic item and brings forth all the warm-and-fuzzy memories associated with it. Which, when you think about it, is a good metaphor of Prime & Provisions too.
Prime & Provisions
222 N. LaSalle St., 312.726.7777
Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner nightly
First and second courses, $11-$36; entrees, $18-$69; sides, $9-$15; desserts, $5-$12