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Chicago Cut Steakhouse is one definition of fine dining

Bone-ribeye with Truffle Scalloped Potatoes Asparagus  Chicago Cut Steakhouse 300 N. LaSalle st. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Bone-in ribeye with Truffle Scalloped Potatoes and Asparagus at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, 300 N. LaSalle st. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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300 North La Salle; (312) 329-1800;

Hours: 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday

Prices: (dinner) salads and appetizers $6-$19; seafood $19-$39; steaks and chops $39-$52: desserts $8

Try: shrimp cocktail, Chilean sea bass, bone-in ribeye, grilled asparagus, mixed berry cobbler

Wheels: valet available; wheelchair accessible

In a bite: Casual yet classy atmosphere in this steakhouse, but it’s not over-the-top. Crisp tablecloths, lots of wood and red leather (chairs). Impeccable service. The wine list is on an iPad (either love it or hate it), which the technos will have fun with. The list is deep (600-plus labels) and well thought out. Reservations recommended. I suppose children would enjoy a burger, the mac & cheese, or one of the sandwiches.

KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent; ★★ Very Good; ★ Good; Zero stars: Poor

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Updated: September 29, 2011 12:38AM

While my wife and I were dining at Chicago Cut, even before any part of our order arrived, I noticed that there was a certain style to the service. Things were happening with a sense of purpose; hospitality reigned supreme. A year ago, in writing about NOMi in the Park Hyatt Hotel just off Michigan Avenue, I coined the phrase “table concierge.” It was quite obvious at the time that there was one person who was overseeing only a table or two. Whatever was going on at those tables, it was his responsibility to make sure all went well. And well it went. Fine dining, smooth and seamless.

At Chicago Cut it was the same. A sharply dressed man was ever present but not hovering (there is no hovering, only awareness at fine dining restaurants). He had our table and two other tables always within eyeshot. In fact he stationed himself right there. This is what you pay for. And when you are shelling out $48 for a bone-in ribeye and, say, $11 for a side of truffle scalloped potatoes, and another 10 bucks for grilled asparagus (that’s $69 so far), this is how it should be.

We started with burrata and vine-ripe tomatoes, a smart composition in which slices of creamy-rich burrata and thick dead-ripe tomatoes were layered, resulting in a red-and-white composition (suggestion: add some leaves of fresh basil to create the colors of the Italian flag). This symphony of red and white was glazed with a tangy balsamic glaze that played beautifully on the palate. Pure indulgence and enough for two to share.

For a seafood course there is a boatload of options, starting with (on this particular night) Bluepoint oysters and soft shell crab. We took a pass and enjoyed a classic shrimp cocktail. The jumbo shrimp (almost large enough to double as scampi), tails on, four in all, were hooked onto a shrimp server that carried the requisite cocktail sauce.

Chicago Cut is a formidable steakhouse, so trying a cut or two of beef goes without question. However, knowing that Jackie Shen (formerly at Red Light restaurant) was part of the kitchen team, we ordered the Chilean sea bass. A long shot that Ms. Shen would personally cook this dish, but she has a touch with fish that few others have. Whoever cooked this sea bass could not have done better. The chunky fillet was cooked to perfection (slight overcooking of sea bass and all the good flavor ends up in the pan). Glazed with miso and tempered with a tangy yuzu sauce, the bass lay on a bed of lightly sauteed spinach. Simple yet sensational.

And, yes, there was beef in the form of a bone-in ribeye, the outside slightly charred, the center warm and red (that’s medium-rare in steakhouse speak). Steaks at Chicago Cut are dry-aged and “butchered on site.” My take is that dry-aged steaks are the way to go, since the rich mineral flavor has time to develop. This was a fine hunk of beef. Was it the best bone-in ribeye I had ever had? No. But it was right up there with some of the best.

A couple of side orders to complement the steak: The grilled asparagus was spot-on — tender and slightly charred stalks. The truffle scalloped potatoes? The layers of potato were tender and flavorfully “scalloped” — but the truffle part (probably the truffle oil) was overbearing (a little truffle oil goes a long way).

At Chicago Cut you can enjoy the casual yet fine atmosphere and rub elbows with the hoi polloi without going whole hog. For example, you can order a Caesar salad to start, then have a burger ($21) or a shrimp salad and beef sliders ($26).

Desserts held up their end of the menu, but with all that led up to it, there was room for only one. The lemon mousse cake was a possibility, but the mixed berry cobbler was the one, served in a deep souffle dish, slightly warm with a knob of vanilla ice cream sinking slowly through the cobbler top into the berries below. And there were enough tender berries to start a fruit stand. A lot to handle, but we finished it off.

Pat Bruno is a local free-lance critic and author. Listen to Pat Bruno talk about food and wine at 6:23 and 10:23 p.m. Tuesdays and 7:53 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on WBBM-AM (780) News Radio.

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