David Burke has restored my faith in red meat. His menu at Primehouse, a restaurant located in the James Hotel, is simple but inventive, featuring steak that is quite literally a cut above the rest. You can taste it in each and every succulent bite.
In recent years, I’ve leaned toward the seafood side of the menu with a few key exceptions, like lamb or unusual game specialties, because somewhere along the line red meat stopped tasting good to me. More times than I care to admit, I’ve worked my way through a plate of gristle or fat only to be rewarded with disappointment and an outrageous bill.
But Primehouse is different. All of the meat served there comes from cattle that is grass fed, and there’s a huge difference in the taste of the meat. Tammy always told me that was true, but I’d never tasted it for myself. The prices are in line with other Chicago steakhouses, but in this case, I have no problem opening my wallet to pay for a simply excellent main course.
In fact, I was so impressed with the 55-day aged ribeye that I had during my first visit, (it literally made my eyes roll back into my head) that I went back for lunch a few days later to try the burger. One of our Twitter followers promised that it would “change my life,” so I couldn’t resist.
I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I will say that it was certainly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Where Kuma’s is all about tantalizing topping combos, Primehouse focuses on what it does best and makes the meat itself the centerpiece. Its 40-day aged “Burker” is topped with garlic spinach, crispy shallots, and bacon mayo on a potato bun. You can add cheese if you want to, but it’s not needed — messing with the formula is an insult.
Also worthy of a shout-out is the Caesar salad. Prepared table-side, it’s fresh, light, made-to-order, and there isn’t a bit of cream dressing in sight.
The sides I’ve had at Primehouse are hit and miss. Sometimes the cheese on the truffle fries is melted to perfection, and sometimes it isn’t. Still, the fries are tasty and the side dishes pale in comparison to the meat regardless.
Primehouse is worth a stop for sure. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you there. Writing this is making me hungry!
David Burke’s Primehouse
616 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2712