Chicago’s newest slate of steakhouses popping up around town, from Prime & Provisions in the Loop to the German- and French-accented Boeufhaus in Ukrainian Village, represent a renaissance of sorts. The city’s appetite for steaks expands beyond borders confined to all-American beef with the familiar storied side dishes. One such example is Rural Society, an Argentine steakhouse that recently opened in Streeterville’s Loews Hotel. The burly restaurant comes courtesy of Jose Garces, Iron Chef alum and prominent player in Philadelphia’s restaurant scene. Rural Society marks Garces’ second foray into the Chicago restaurant scene, following the South Loop’s successful Mercat a la Planxa. There’s lots of meaty innovations happening at Rural Society, which serves to bring a distinct taste of Argentina to Streeterville. Here are five important facts about one of Chicago’s most exciting new steakhouses:
Here’s the 911 on Rural Society:
1). The bread basket is legit. Gone are the days when bland, commonplace breads would precede meals. Rather, restaurants like Rural Society see the bread basket as a unique opportunity to stir up excitement in guests — not to mention hunger — with some truly exceptional first tastes. Some of those tastes include Merlot butter. Something as simple as compound butter goes a long way when it’s infused with lush red wine such as this, especially when smeared on doughy gougere-like chipa rolls, polenta rolls, and focaccia.
2). Cory Morris is a force to be reckoned with. The chef de cuisine is a Garces alum, coming over to the Loews restaurant from Mercat a la Planxa. Here, he spearheads the day-to-day dealings, infusing a strong sense of locality and seasonality into a restaurant rooted in South American lore. That’s an impressive feat, to be sure, sourcing ingredients meticulously and rigorously, executing creations like carrot chimichurri, wood-grilled Iowa pork, and deeply rich grilled wild mushrooms.
3). The space is an equine dream. This is especially true in the main dining room, draped with ropes that cascade along the ceiling and decorated with various racing trophies and horse paraphernalia. Deep booths tucked into the walls and surrounded by curtains resemble horse stalls, which makes Rural Society probably the first time dining in a makeshift horse stall has ever been a desirable, and downright chic, thing.
4). The beef satisfies Midwestern appetites with its South American stylings. True to its Argentine ethos, a portion of the steaks hail from Uruguay, lending an authentic flavor to the menu of wood-fired steaks. This includes a strikingly tender and pleasantly smoky grass-fed tenderloin, along with a rib-eye. Colorado lamb chops, Tasmanian sea trout, free-range Japanese Jidori chicken, and succulent Maine lobster round out the miscellany of eclectic proteins.
5). The sides and desserts, in line with the bread and the steaks, are far from average. Take the remolachas, aka beets, for example. These ember-roasted beauties arrive to the table looking as pristine as cubed tuna tartare, dressed with a bracing, tangy orange-coriander vinaigrette that brings everything to life. The dessert menu is no joke either, as showcased in desserts like a mille-feuille-esque creation featuring puff pastry layered with dulce de leche.