I recently enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Benny’s Chop House and had the pleasure of meeting Executive Chef Jonathan Lane and Mitchell Schmieding, Director of Operations. Mitchell’s career includes famous venues such as Charlie Trotter’s and other fine restaurants worldwide. Under Mitchell’s enthusiastic direction Benny’s offers the perfect sense of service and style. Jonathan is an accomplished chef that has worked all over the world at acclaimed restaurants, but nonetheless has retained his authentic “western Kansas country” self. He is a passionate believer in using the best ingredients possible and gets everything from his eggs to vegetables from local suppliers. Benny’s steaks are all USDA Certified Prime. If you are looking for a majestic steak, look no further. Their fish is ordered fresh for next day delivery and under strict Safe Harbor standards for your safety. They even make their own bacon, huge thick slices that are out-of-this-world and I considered myself lucky to have tried it. The bacon is served as a side, but it is so impressive that it is far more than just a filler! Yummy! Check out this video of Jonathan on NBC to see him demonstrating how he makes their signature Blue Cheese Croquettes. http://www.nbcchicago.com/shows/nonstop/Foodies_Chicago__Benny_s_Chophouse_Chicago-119861364.html
Benny’s is named after the owner Benny Siddu, who also happens to own and run another one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago – Volare Ristorante.
Not many steak houses of this size have their own pastry chef, but Benny’s does. Aaron Lindgren is that guy and I met him and also sampled his tantalizing and decadent desserts. His S’mores Cheese Cake is fab and I felt like I had just bit into a campfire-roasted marshmallow that sits on top of this exciting desert! The Banana cream Pie is to-die-for; don’t tell my mother I said that! There are so many other possibilities that it is just fun to consider them. Even their breadbasket isn’t ordinary, it’s an experience. I tried to behave, but couldn’t resist trying all the amazing breads in that basket! So many different types and all scrumptious, I just kept saying, “Wow, try this one!”
When it comes time to order your wine, be advised that this is no small task. To say that Benny’s wine list is daunting is a huge understatement. Their outstanding wine list features over 1000 labels and James Rahn, the Beverage Director, will be more than happy to help you select the perfect bottle for your taste and price range. (Ask him about Benny’s Wine Locker option.) The decor and ambience of Benny’s interior is exquisite from the moment you walk in. Everything is flawlessly done up with opulent woodwork, textures, art (all artwork featured is that of Matt Lamb) and exotic light fixtures. The dark carpet keeps the noise at bay in the dining rooms, and seating is arranged so the kitchen doors are not a sight you have to worry about when seated at your table. Booth 41 is the booth you want to reserve for your romantic meal. It’s location and high surrounding walls ensures you and your honey are nestled in for a romantic and intimate evening. Enter this romantic restaurant once and you’re an immediate “regular” because you will want to repeat this experience again and again. Benny’s entertains you with live jazz music in their Lounge/Bar Wednesday thru Saturday. I had the pleasure of listening to pianist Fred Simon last Wednesday evening and he dazzled us with a wonderful repertoire that struck me and made me think, “How did he know exactly what we wanted to hear?” It was exactly the kind of music and ambience my husband and I have been searching for, for some time now. Simon will be playing there every Wednesday in March. You can check out the rest of their entertainment schedule for each month on their website. Needless to say, we will be back for countless romantic dinners and the entertainment. Oh, and on you’re way out the door grab one of their lovely handmade cinnamon lollipops, a great alternative to the old standby peppermint.