Dinner at Steadfast (Chicago, IL)
Steadfast is a hotel restaurant tucked within the Kimpton Gray hotel in The Loop of Chicago. This ambitious restaurant for its globally inspired menu with nuances of an upscale American steakhouse.
The cocktail program is strong since it’s owned by the restaurant group Fifty/50, the same people behind the Berkshire Room (where we had very good drinks during our stay and will be on a separate post) and other reputable restaurants and bars in Chicago. My friend opted the Knights of Columbus cocktail made with Famous Grouse Scotch, rosemary, stone pine, Angostura. It’s technically a tricky drink to because of the intense flavors of pine and rosemary and it does err on the medicinal spectrum but still pleasant enough to drink.
Our snack to start the meal were the bite-sized piece of foie gras rochers, essentially marble-sized orbs of creamy foie gras coated in dark chocolate and crushed almonds with a hint of orange. If the restaurant sells this by the dozen for Valentine’s Day (or any day, really), I’d be a very happy person since it’s a great change to have a savory option for chocolates.
What is unique about Steadfast is the bread section of the menu. Usually, when you dine at a restaurant bread is presumed to be free. At Steadfast, you would pay for your unique loaves of bread and various spreads and infused oils to dip them in. We had a large assortment, but the breads are as good as they are varied (six distinct creations available, highlighted by superb purple potato and bacon-topped flamiche), along with several housemade seasonal butters, three oils (we loved the leek-caper-anchovy oil) and pickled vegetables.
The laminated broiche is a thing of beauty. A gorgeous round of flaky, puff pastry topped with Serrano ham, manchego cheese, mustard, quail egg, and caviar. Though it’s messy to eat but it’s very tasty and luxurious.
The pasta course of housemade chitarra topped with Alaskan King Crab, Calabrian chilies in a crab bisque was delicious. The pasta was made nicely and cooked through. There’s enough heat from the spicy chilies (and those chilies can be brutally spicy) and the crab bisque had great flavor and a good amount of King crab meat mixed in this bowl of pasta.
For the carnivore who loves her duck, you should definitely consider the whole duck cassoulet. Technically, this is not a cassoulet that I would think of the French tradition, where everything from the beans to the meat of choice would be braised to the point that everything is soft and meltingly tender in the mouth. Overlooking the nomenclature, the duck is a beauty when the kitchen comes out with a perfect looking, roast duck breast then whisk it away to slice and plate it with the thick slices of pork belly, braised cranberry beans and confit duck legs. The slices of roast duck breast were incredible. The confit duck leg was delicious and the pork belly can do no wrong. If anything, I prefer the cranberry beans cooked a little longer. Otherwise, everything else was delicious.
We did have sides of Potatoes Robouchon and it was a good, creamy mashed potato (but it’s not as good as what I had in Monaco at Robouchon’s restaurant that this dish was named after — not enough cream and butter!). The winter succotash was a lovely, hearty vegetable sauté of new potatoes, zucchini, and slivers of red bell peppers and fresh radishes.
For dessert, we had a pre-dessert of green tea gel and peanuts, a gentle palate cleanser with varied textures ranging from soft to crispy and crunchy. For our actual desserts, we had a classic of sorts, the coconut crème brûlée and a little more modernist – chocolate and beets. The coconut crème brûlée was stunning. The custard was not too sweet, beautifully silky, dense and creamy with enough coconut flavor (and yes, there is some brittle, glass-like caramel top when our spoons cracked the surface). The tropical fruits on top meld wonderfully with the coconut custard. The chocolate and beets dessert was a very good dessert but it’s feels a bit cerebral rather than the easy comfort of the other dessert we have. At any rate, the beet sherbet was wonderful and the combination of chocolate and beets is a modern classic pairing that I like a lot.
Overall, this restaurant is great, especially of this kind of ambitious food in The Loop. The service was professional yet friendly. The atmosphere is sophisticated and the comfy banquette chairs are great to sit in if you’re there for a long while. I would definitely come back and want to try their steak and the many delicious sounding sauces (hello, foie gras demi glace…) that may be paired with the beef.
For more photos, please CLICK HERE for the complete set or see below:[alpine-phototile-for-flickr src=”set” uid=”26389565@N00″ sid=”72157679679148166″ imgl=”flickr” shuffle=”1″ style=”gallery” row=”4″ grwidth=”1200″ grheight=”800″ size=”640″ num=”30″ shadow=”1″ border=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″]
at The Kimpton Gray Hotel
120 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603