Trend Watch: Cauliflower Takes the Steakhouse Spotlight
It might sound like a belated April Fools joke, but cauliflower is giving steak a run for its money in steakhouses these days. While some spots are serving straight-up cauliflower “steaks,” prepared similarly to steaks with hearty accompaniments, others are opting for their own inventive riffs on the vegetable. Here are some of the best steakhouses in town to try out the latest craze: creative cauliflower.
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: Turns out, this River North icon is just as crafty with produce as it is with that namesake stone crab and steak. Catering to its vegetarian clientele, a newer menu addition is a roasted cauliflower steak, an herb-marinated and char-grilled hunk of cauliflower that gets topped with a bright and peppery arugula-herb pistou. Shaved fennel and sweet Pink Lady apples add crispness and complexity.
Boeufhaus: The award for most original (and decadent) cauliflower dish goes to Boeufhaus, which opens its dinner menu with a powerhouse appetizer starring the vegetable. The dish in question is an ooey-gooey gratin, studded with toothsome bites of cauliflower, bechamel, Gruyere, leeks and escargots, an unexpected addition that lends a pleasant texture and salinity.
Swift & Sons: While the vegetable may not get top billing among the entrees at this Fulton Market steakhouse, they do play a pivotal role alongside the scallops. Featured alongside roasted diver scallops, cauliflower gets prepared as grenobloise, a pungent French sauce traditionally made with brown butter, capers, parsley and lemon. It adds a punch of flavor, brightness and crunch to the sweet seafood dish.
GT Prime: Easily one of the most chef-driven of Chicago’s steakhouses, with the inimitable Giuseppe Tentori behind the wheel, it’s no wonder that vegetables take an innovative turn at GT Prime. Case in point, roasted cauliflower takes on a nutty, rich tone after some time in the oven, at which point it’s served with whipped ricotta, peperonata and some crispy pine nuts for added crunch.
Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi: Most people are familiar with classic chopped salads, which typically contain the same medley of vegetables and meats strewn together in indulgent bowlfuls. At Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi, they’re rethinking the notion to put produce front-and-center. Now, the seasonal variation contains baby and Tuscan kale, cauliflower florets, roasted asparagus, mushrooms, acorn squash, Marcona almonds and Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
RPM Steak: Borrowing a page from crab, cauliflower at RPM Steak gets a similar treatment to seafood. Just like the coal-roasted crab appetizer, cauliflower is also roasted over blazing-hot coals, imbuing the vegetable with a smoky undertone before its served with zesty lime yogurt for balance and acidity.