OK, I wanted to report on the Saloon Steakhouse dinner, me and the future missus memyself had last night.
We wanted to try a Chicago steakhouse for V-Day and since Gibson's was already booked, I looked to the chowhound for help and found several nice reviews of the Saloon on 200 E. Chestnut.
The restaurant itself is pretty nicely laid out, with a coat check on the way in... though if the bar area is crowded, you'll have to push your way through to the check-in stand (or whatever it's called).
OK the good:
We were greeted very warmly and taken immediately to our table. A very nice table with a large, tasteful photo of a nude couple above it (PG-version). The environs are somewhat noisy but you can definitely have a conversion, a nice steakhouse atmosphere.
The service was excellent. The waitress (or whatever the pc term is now) was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and up-front with her suggestions, having tried everything.. (a quality I like in a server).
The pretzel-like bread that arrived shortly after we did was excellent. The lobster bisque was pretty good, slightly sweet, with lobster-tail cut up and added to the soup. The martinis were very good. I got the house specialty (a lemony-flavored, citron-vodka with a splash of champagne), which was good, though I really liked the cosmo she ordered better.
The baked asparagus was excellent, I highly recommend it.
Now, the Not-so good:
Despite what I said of the pretzel-bread in the bread basket, the bread itself arrived cold... not so good...
The steaks themselves... Now maybe they'd be better if we didn't order them medium well (no booing, but I've been to several fine steakhouses around the country, and frankly to me it's a sign of a really good steakhouse that will cook the steak to medium well and it comes out juicy and mmm mmm good.) And at Saloon, I can't say that's the case.
I got a porterhouse, she the filet (sp?), and while both were ok (and they didn't butterfly the filet which was nice), I've made better myself. Maybe it was the quality of the beef used, but whatever it was, we weren't impressed.
We got the steaks horseradish-crusted. The horseradish crust itself was very good, didn't overwhelm the beef flavor. However, I guess in crusting the steaks they charred the outside of the meat, which wasn't terribly appetizing.
Had to try dessert, so we got the recommended warm mocha truffle with vanilla ice cream and the thirdly recommended cheesecake (though the cheesecake is from an outside bakery, we don't really like key lime pie, which is one of the signature desserts). It seemed they left out the sugar from the mocha dessert... it just wasn't very good. The vanilla ice cream and health bar pieces couldn't cover for the object lack of sweetness. Additionally, the texture was too dry I think for the dessert itself. The cheesecake wasn't bad, not great, and despite the menu description, definitely not close to a real "New York" cheesecake.
It wasn't bad, just not what I'd expect from a true steakhouse in Chicago (or anywhere else for that matter). I guess my standard is if I think I could make a steak better from Jewel than I had at the restaurant, then what's the point in going to the restaurant (and believe me, I'm no Bobby Flay or Alton Brown)).
Past results are not necessarily indicative of future ones.