beef for a solo diner?
I recently made a blind leap here from the west and since I know no one but crave red meat, I'd like to find places that accomodate the lone customer. A couple weekends ago I tried Harry Caray's (quickly picked from Citysearch's Audience pick list). I was *very* out of place, seated by myself at a 4-person table in a sea of packed tables. Also, although the bone-in ribeye was extremely tasty it was not a center cut--the lovely appearing slab was marred by discovering that a solid third of the steak consisted of the thick edge of fat with a sizeable extension right through the middle. Perhaps the server sensed the rookie vibes I was putting off? Where can I go for beef by myself where I'll have a better experience? I live to the north and work in the loop, travel by el and bus. Thank you!
Being new to the solo dining, I hadn't thought to ask for a certain table or to order at the bar. I always order rare or medium-rare. The crab house will be a future adventure. And thanks for the new site to check out, leek.
I tried Keefer's recently. A little swankier than I expected. The sliced vine ripened tomato salad was as to be expected in winter, with the tomatoes being less than sweet but elevated by the hefty chunk of gorgonzola. The steak was delicious. Not the most tender but no gigantic finger of fat in the middle this time. Where the Harry Caray's bone-in ribeye was raw at the bone, this one was a perfect warm red all the way through. Keefer's is a place I will eat at again.
I would say that it's not the best steak in town, but most of the bistro-y places have a bar where you can sit and have a steak. I've eaten steak frites alone at the bar at Bouchon and Matou, and in both cases had good food and a good experience. It's a hike, but I've eaten at the bar at Pete Miller's in Evanston at the bar, also good food and service (plus live music!). As Nxtasy writes above - a good restaurant will give you what you are looking for. You shouldn't be made to feel like a second class citizen because you are dining solo.
And if you want to find some chow-minded dining companions head on over to lthforum.com too. Chowhound isn't structured for organizing group get togethers in Chicago, lthforum is. Lots of us hang out in both places.
The bar at Bin 36 is a fun place to dine alone. You'll meet lots of nice folks!
Also, take yourself to Andy's after work any day of the week for great Jazz (Jazz at 5) and either enjoy one of their burgers, or go next door to Shaw's Crab HOuse, where dining at the bar is another fun experience.
oops, sorry! I read the original post wrong! Guess you wouldn't want Shaw's Crab House for steak!!!
The quality of the steak has nothing to do with the size of the party dining. I can assure you that the server does not tell the kitchen, "We've got a solo; give him the worst cut you can find." ;)
For the best quality steak, go to the best steakhouse. There is no consensus on which one that is, but there are a lot of opinions, most of which are expressed in this current ongoing discussion:
As for dining alone, I've done it plenty from time to time. Places that have a high level of service (which should include any top steakhouse) should, and usually do, do just as well serving a solo diner as a larger party. If you would like a particular sized table or location, make your wishes known when you are seated. As wak and jfood both note, most places are happy to serve you anything from their entire food menu at the bar, if you so choose. Keep in mind that bar areas in some restaurants in the city still permit smoking.
Travel to Chi by myself and eat steak by myself as well. Gibsons has a few small tables and a bar that gets pretty crowded. January went to Capital Grille, sat at the bar and had an outstanding P'House.
Been eating alone on business for years. After a while you just get used to it.
Enjoy the food.