Tavern On Rush - Chicago
The lunch menu at Tavern on Rush will surprise you with a range of delicious chow. There’s the seared tuna, shrimp or crab cocktail and oysters either raw or cooked up in classic preparations like Rockefeller, but there are also some wilder selections thrown in. The fried lobster tails are perfectly luxurious finger food, and you might conceivably end your lunch right there (they’re that good), but there’s also pork pot stickers and hummus to round out the international offerings. For more substantial options, there’s a dozen different soups and salads, and a magnificent range of burger choices, including ribeye steak sandwich and a bison burger, accompanied by a large number of seafood and poultry options. It’s safe to say that if a diner can’t find something to like on this lunch menu, that diner will likely not find anything to like anywhere.
Then there’s the dinner menu, where restaurants usually shine even more, and Tavern on Rush is no exception to that rule. Though the lunch menu mentions, at the bottom left corner, that you can get “prime steaks and chops charcoal grilled to order,” this red meat is the star of the dinner menu.
Is there a better way to cook a steak than over an open fire? There’s something so primal and satisfying about the way a flame licks up the sides of a good cut of meat, caramelizing and crisping up the luscious fat under chef’s watchful eye, creating a light crust that crunches when you bite into it, releasing all the deliciousness that makes beef the favorite American meat and making you glad to be alive.
Moving from lower left on the lunch menu to upper right on the dinner menu, the listed USDA prime cuts of meat are what you want when the work day is over and it’s time to settle into dinner. You have meat on your mind (don’t you?!), and Tavern on Rush knows that, so they serve up strip steak Kansas City or New York style, filet mignon with or without bone in, two sizes of Porterhouse…and a few unusual offerings.
Filet mignon Oscar takes one of the most popular meats and does it up all fancy-like. The Oscar treatment involves a béarnaise sauce with chunks of crab ladled over the top of the filet. The reason this preparation works so well is that the tender filet and crab get along very well together: both flavors are relatively subtle, so they don’t fight each other; rather, they enhance each other. Filet mignon Oscar might just be the epitome of the surf n’ turf experience.
Chateaubriand steak is not found on many menus in Chicago or anywhere else, but you’ll find it at Tavern on Rush. The classic Chateaubriand is a thick cut of the largest part of the filet, and it takes a knowledgeable chef to make sure this rather imposing piece of beef is cooked sufficiently but not so much that the flavor evaporates in the heat of the cooking process. The chefs at Tavern on Rush do an expert job of preparing this now somewhat rare cut of meat, and the menu advises that this dish is for two. Solid advice.
As the first word in the name of this place is Tavern, you have to expect that there will be some good beverages available, and that expectation would be correct. Though wine is available (obviously: this place focuses on steak) there’s is a full liquor bar and as the sun goes down, Tavern on Rush adopts a more clubby atmosphere with DJs spinning tunes and couples getting up to dance where they can. If that’s not your scene, there’s also a “semi-private cocktail reception area” that you can reserve if your group is more, um, reserved.
Tavern on Rush is, however, a “see and be seen” establishment, and it’s not at all unusual for people to be sitting at the bar, only to spot friends across the room who they greet and join. Even if you’re not a regular, though, Tavern on Rush does everything they can to make you feel at home and well-fed.
Chicago Magazine praised Tavern on Rush, noting that, “On a strip dedicated to showmanship—Tavern on Rush sits at the heart of the Viagra Triangle—it’s almost startling to find a restaurant that doesn’t go for glam. You gotta love the acoustic-tiled ceiling, racetrack tote board (with chalk), and wainscoted walls.”
But you also gotta love the meat, prepared over flames the way meat has been shown to best advantage for millennia, supported by a truly encyclopedic menu, designed to satisfy almost any taste.