Celebrate National Chicken Month at a Great Chicago…Steakhouse?
September is National Chicken Month, and we admit, it doesn’t seem on the face of it to make much sense to celebrate white meat at a red meat restaurant.
But, turns out, it does make a lot of sense.
Just as steakhouses have some of the best seafood around, they also source some of the best chicken. Steakhouse chefs, masters of animal protein, know how to prepare chicken – and prime steak, and seafood – to best advantage.
Here are five of Chicago’s best steakhouses, each one an undisputed leader in the preparation of exceptional steak, seafood…and, yes, chicken.
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse. There’s not much in the name “Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse” to suggest that they might make a mean chicken, but they do. Chicken Vesuvio, the classic Chicago chicken preparation first offered at Vesuvio’s restaurant, is masterfully prepared at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse. It’s half a chicken, with quartered potatoes, white wine, garlic and spring peas. Tribune food critic Phil Vettel called it “the best chicken Vesuvio in the city.” You will probably have to agree.
Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse. Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse is another place whose name suggests that it’s all about the steak. And it is a lot about steak, but just as Michael Jordan appealed to sports fans across the spectrum, so too does his namesake restaurant appeal to many tastes…including the taste for chicken. The birds served at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse come from Slagel Farms, one of the finest small-scale producers in the country, and they’re prepared with care and respect; the chicken spends some time in a piri-piri marinade before it’s roasted and served with grilled lemon, arugula, and crispy potatoes (chicken’s best side dish).
Ditka’s. Came a time when the doctor told Iron Mike that he’d have to cut back on cigars, booze and red meat. His namesake restaurant, Ditka’s, still makes it possible to enjoy all of those things, but the menu now includes some healthier options, like chicken. At Ditka’s, you can have the All Natural Half Chicken with pan gravy, Brussels sprouts and whipped potatoes, or the Fried Chicken with honey chipotle dipping sauce, Cole slaw and whipped potatoes. Either of these dishes will make you very happy.
III Forks. Chicago Magazine has called III Forks “Chicago’s best steakhouse,” but this River North red meat emporium also carries some of the best chicken around. The Poulet Rouge Heritage Chicken from Joyce Farms is prepared simply, with just rosemary and bacon, the better to allow the natural goodness of the bird to shine through. As their website explains, “We made the decision to import Label Rouge chicken genetics and grow and process these birds as closely as possible to Label Rouge standards. We selected a naked neck breed known in France as ‘Le Poulet Jaune,’ due to its yellow beak and feet, and regarded by many in France to be the best of the Label Rouge breeds.”
Maple & Ash. Like its seafood and vegetables, Maple & Ash brings its chicken up a level (or two) by cooking them over signature wooden fires, which imparts a light smoky flavor to all the food so prepared. The Fire-Roasted Chicken is served with pan juices and a potato puree, a stripped-down-to-essentials presentation that sets in relief the natural goodness of the chicken. Enjoyed in a dramatic, stately dining room, the chicken at Maple & Ash is well worth a special trip to this Magnificent Mile location.