Can You Keep a Secret? These Dishes are 'Off The Menu' Sensations

Steak 48's Beignet Tree is a signature
"off-the-menu" dish at the restaurant. (Photo: Steak 48)


You can never go wrong ordering a juicy prime New York strip or obnoxiously towering raw seafood platters at one of Chicago’s most notable steakhouses. But it’s time for a little adventure to see what else is out there.

On your next visit, inquire about the “secret” menu items—or experiences. Believe it or not, many restaurants offer them. Here are some of our favorites around town.

Chicago Chop House. New owner/managing partner Matthew McCahill grew up vegetarian and didn’t become a meat eater until he was 18. That’s why it’s important for him to offer thought-provoking, vegetable-centric dishes on the menu—and off. The mushroom-stuffed sweet potato, for example, has garnered vegetarian and carnivore fans, and it consists of cremini mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme. The sweet potatoes are well seasoned and baked, while the rest of the vegetables are sautéed. For those who must have meat, they may request Duke of Bacon. It’s a hanging masterpiece of double-cut Nueske's bacon that’s been charred on the outside. It arrives with a side of maple syrup for dipping.

GT Prime. Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori introduced GT Surf & Turf dinners last fall, and they’re still going strong. The 11-course, progressive feast starts at GT Fish & Oysters and ends two blocks away at GT Prime. Diners get five courses at GT Fish and five more, plus dessert, at GT Prime. It’s $100 per person (reservations must be made in advance), and they’ll serve hit dishes like shrimp bruschetta, smoked salmon deviled eggs and bigoli pasta Bolognese.

Chicago Chop House's secret new "hanging bacon" appetizer.
(Photo: Matthew Lowell)

Morton’s The Steakhouse (State Street & Wacker Place). Lobster macaroni and cheese may be found at steakhouses all over town, but it only comes by special request when you order it at this Morton’s outpost. It arrives to the table piping hot and consists of a whole lobster tossed with cavatappi pasta, cheddar sauce, lobster sauce and seasoned bread crumbs.

Prime & Provisions. Order the Porterhouse at this swanky steakhouse next to the Chicago River, and if you have leftovers, they’ll send you home with something very special. The leftover steak will be crafted into a gourmet steak sandwich, which will be perfect for the next day’s lunch or a late-night snack.

Steak 48. The dessert menu here is tempting enough with offerings like red velvet bread pudding, warm vanilla caramel cake and the signature cookies & cream popcorn sundae. But if you really want to end your dinner on a high note, order the showstopping Beignet Tree. Your server will present your table with a 16-inch, non-edible tree with freshly baked beignets hanging from each branch. For dipping, there’s Nutella ganache and crème anglaise.

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