Grass Fed

Grass Fed in Bucktown (Barry Brecheisen/For RedEye / July 19, 2012)

Mini-review: Grass Fed
1721 N. Damen Ave. 773-698-8852
Rating: !!! 1/2 (out of 4) Heating up

The scene: Chicago has a trillion steakhouses, and not a whole lot setting them apart. But friends and former traders Scott Kay and Blake Bible had eaten plenty of steak dinner during their careers in finance, and they wanted to do something seriously different with this Bucktown steakhouse. There’s not a tufted leather banquette or dark wood-paneled wall in sight; instead it’s all white-washed walls, high ceilings and shelves lined with topiaries and jars of preserves. And it differs in philosophy too, serving only grass-fed sirloin sourced from Paso Prime in Paso Robles, Calif. and Wisconsin-based Strauss, butchered and wet-aged right on-site.

The food: The menu revolves around the $25 steak dinner, which includes a salad, house-baked bread, fries and sliced steak topped with an herb-based “secret” sauce. If you’ve ever sliced your way through a huge steak only to find the second half has cooled by the time you get to it, that won’t happen here. The server brought out my 8-ounce steak in two separate 4-ounce portions, with the second half arriving just as I polished off the first. Thinly cut fries are the perfect mix of crispy and salty, and I was just as happy to get a piping-hot second serving of fries as I was the steak. The steak is the focus, but vegetarians shouldn’t be scared off; there’s a veggie option for $25 dinner as well as veg-friendly sides and starters ($6-$8) such as ratatouille and asparagus with rhubarb and honey-thyme dressing.

The drinks: Grass Fed infuses its own booze to use in bottled cocktails (equally cute and delicious, for $10) such as the Sandia Caliente (jalapeno-infused tequila with watermelon and lime juices) and Arnold Shankar (lemonade with chai-infused bourbon). You can also ask the bartender to whip up your favorite drink made with infused booze, like an old fashioned with the same chai-infused bourbon. The restaurant also inherited the espresso machine of former tenant Caffe de Luca and uses it to brew locally roasted coffee from Passion House.

Bottom line: Kay and Bible have taken the tired steakhouse model and tweaked it smartly for the Bucktown crowd. Though the simplicity of the $25 fixed menu seems limiting, it’s more flexible that it looks. Bring a date and share a starter before tackling your own steak dinner. Or split one steak dinner and a bunch of sides with a bunch of friends. Or dine at the bar solo and go home plenty full for $25. Whichever you go with, it’s worth a try.

Reviews are unannounced and meals are paid for by RedEye. lmarnett@tribune.com | @redeyeeats