Ive had this gift cert to Nine sitting around and my wife and I finally went last night.
There is NO exterior signage on the building indicating that the restaurant is located inside.
As one walks in the hostess stand is to ones left w/a 15 tall waterfall (water sliding down a 15x 4 vertical piece of stainless steel.) Stainless steel, dark black hard woods and black suede are common materials. The booths are all black suede. There a raised center section of ceiling with lights that change its color every 40 minutes or so. Music is jazz w/a strong beat. Lots of people wearing black here.
We were seeing a play later that night so we had dinner reservations for 5pm, right when they open. We showed up at 5 minutes to and were told we are not open yet. Not your even your bar? was my response, oh yeah, that is open. Nice welcoming atmosphere is what I was thinking :rolleyes:
We ordered two glasses of house white wine, one Riesling one Pinot Grigio. Riesling was horribly sweet, almost white Zinfandel (YUCK), Pinot grigio was good, thankfully wife was in a sweet wine mood and we switched.
At 10 after 5 a hostess asked if we would like to be seated. Now my second gripe. When one is done at the bar, I should simply be able to say put the drinks on our dinner bill of course no that can not happen at Nine, you have to close out your bar bill before being seated.
We were seated in one of the black suede booths near a window that allows views into the kitchen. However the booth is low and the windows high, so I could not very well view the chefs in action.
Nine calls itself a steakhouse and there are quite a few cuts of USDA Prime beef. If I had not had a steak in awhile I would have ordered the KC Strip Steak (KC Strip Steak is a NY strip w/the bone left in), however I had just grilled two nights earlier a USDA Prime, dry-aged Porterhouse, so I knew nothing that Nine could offer would be better than that. Thankfully Nine has PLENTY of other non-beef items. There are lots of seafood entrees.
I was not really drawn to an entrée; my interest was held by all these wonderful sounding appetizers, so I decided to make a meal of various appetizers.
Wife started with the two cones, a phyllo like dough baked into an ice cream cone shape, served on a stand that held both cones vertically. One cone consisted of an Ahi tuna mixture and the other a Maine lobster mixture. Both were good but the Maine was the best.
I started with the fried rock shrimp w/two dipping sauces. The presentation is quite charming; a takeout Chinese food white box is stuffed w/some white food paper that the rock shrimp are then put into. The portion size was huge! And the buggers were done perfectly. We both preferred the hot chili dipping sauce over the lame white/tarter/lemon sauce.
I was then served a bowl of black bean soup (pureed) w/ crème fresh drizzled and a few crisp tortilla strips on top. The earthy, spicy black bean soup combined w/the coolness of the crème fresh and crunch of the strips was quite delicious.
Wifes entrée was a long time favorite on the menu according to our server, the miso cod. Cod was cooked perfectly w/the sweet yet somewhat nutty taste of the miso glaze. Some sautéed mushrooms were a nice side. This is a very enjoyable dish.
I had an appetizer portion of Nines soft shell crabs. This was a terrible dish; the crab was not crisp as a soft shell should be. The server mentioned that they deep fry their crabs instead of sautéing them. As stated it was terrible and when the server came back to inquire about how our meals were, we let her know the cod was great, the soft shell was very poor (and politely explained why).
For those interested I have a VERY VERY easy way to prepare soft shell crabs at home.
Either clean the crabs yourself or have your butcher do it. Lightly dust the crabs in a mixture of flour that has some black pepper in it. Sautee the crabs on a high temp w/some butter in a pan. This will be a very quick cooking process, maybe 3 minutes on the first side, two on the other. Remove crabs to paper towel. Deglaze pan w/juice of one lemon. Pour your deglazed sauce over the now plated crabs, serve promptly. Delicious.
I had also ordered the clams served on hot rocks. They could not produce the hot rock presentation so they served the clams in a pan w/rock salt. Clams were fresh/good, lightly breaded w/some garlic, presentation sucked and that is one of the things I was paying for at Nine.
The server had really talked up their choc chip cookies. We decided to split a serving of Smores for dessert. The graham crackers are already covered w/chocolate and there is a burner w/marshmallows that you place on the end of a water soaked chop stick. Get your marshmallow gooey on the stick and place on pre-chocolated graham cracker. Good, fun but very messy!
As a nice gesture, the server had the dessert taken off the bill due to the poor soft shell crab appetizer dish. Because the server had also talked up the choc chip cookies, she brought us a couple for free as well. They were good, warm, soft, buttery.
If I was entertaining clients who wanted a hipper atmosphere than most restaurants, I would choose Nine again w/out hesitation. We were glad we went to experience it, but probably wont be back to Nine anytime soon, not because it was not good, but just because there are too many other restaurants to try.
Nine Steak House
440 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 277-0207
Mon-Wed 11:30am-1:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm
Thu 11:30am-1:30pm, 5:30pm-11:30pm
Fri 11:30am-1:30pm, 5:30pm-12am, Sat 5:00pm-12am
e-article on Nine: (menu listed is not at all like current menu offered).
[Quote] Executive chef Michael Shrader says,"Expect simplicity with classic foundations and interesting flavor combinations. My goal is to create three or four harmonious elements on a plate, with a balance of taste, texture and eye appeal."
A graduate of San Francisco's California Culinary Academy, Shrader was Executive Sous Chef at Jeremiah Tower's Stars, and Executive Chef at Northern California's Buckeye Roadhouse and Big Horn Grill. In 1995, he was awarded the sole United States scholarship to the Ritz Escoffier École Gastronomique in Paris, where he trained in French culinary method, technique and history.[/Quote]