Keefer’s, Chicago.

October 2013.

I searched for the best steakhouse in Chicago. As nearly as I can determine, this was up there with the best of them. Easily made a reservation 24 hours before the evening, and turned up on time.

It’s a modern room, and we were seated on the periphery of a circle with a high ceiling. It was noisy but the noise was somehow absorbed and there was no annoyance. The smell was a wonderful toasted beef. Our waitress was colloquial, friendly, and knowledgeable. She dealt with us as if she was a friend giving us advice. When it came to the menu, I was surprised there was no roast beef, and notice that (in the style of steakhouses) you had to pay extra for potatoes, vegetables, and so on.

Robin had a small tenderloin called a starter on the menu, and I had a bone-in ribeye steak. We discussed “medium rare” with the delightful waitress and she assured us that it would mean pink and only warm in the middle. Robin’s tenderloin arrived overcooked, it was tender reasonable meat but not “medium rare” as you would expect it to be in a place focused entirely on beef located in the middle of the beef capital of the universe.

Mine was very nice. There is this problem with elevated expectation (I pictured a restaurant on a side street, with the storefront hung with sides of beef, guests passing through a locker room where state senators and movie stars stored their 30-year-old Scotch, to be seated in a leather-smelling clubby room and brought the most tender meat in the world, imported at spectacular expense from northern Alberta). This was an ordinary beefsteak by everybody’s standards.

Fortunately, the price was reasonable. I fear we went to the wrong place, and I can only fault my research for that, but golly when you are prepared to pay for the best and they just offer you so-so, it’s a bit like all dressed up and no place to go. Very nice, but not up to my over-puffed expectation (I was hoping for some high-8’s). Ambience 8.2, food 8.0, service 8.3, overall value 8.1.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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