Wildfire Glenview or Pete Miller Evanston or other?
We will be treating out of town relatives (at least a party of 9) to dinner in early August and wanted to bring them to a place for good Chicago steak without breaking the bank. We haven't ruled out the city, but are leaning toward places closer to Evanston, where they are staying; additionally we will need a venue where it is convenient to park 2 cars.
Any comments on the pricing of steaks at either location? I saw a previous post on Pete Miller's prices, but don't know Wildfire's. Also, if there are better steak dining options for a large family group, I'm all ears. We are looking for a good price/quality combination for a large group if it exists.
For a bigger party with a "value oriented" goal I can heartily recommend L. Woods in Lincolnwood -- the portions are not the "oversized" nightmare that some places pride themselves on, the service is very professional, and the value is tremendous. It is a place that combines a lot Rich Melman's passions, and it shows. The place is kind of "retro" but is in soft, cozy way. They have some great steaks, but served in much more casual family friendly way that most of the more current "Steak Houses". This is not a "knock your socks off" kind of places, but the bill won't make your eyes bug out either. Unless the whole family is made of lushes I think you'd have a hard time spending more than $35/person. This is a better value than Wildfire, but that is a more 'hip' place.
The convenience factor is HUGE, as L. Woods e great big parking lot, with super easy access -- I sorta hate the congestion at Glenview http://www.lwoodsrestaurant.com/
L Woods Restaurant
7110 N. Lincoln Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60712
According to this steak distributor's website, Wildfire and Pete Miller's buy their steaks from the same source. Since they come pre-cut in restaurant servings, they may actually even come from the same animals. However, I would guess that Pete Miller's pays more attention to detail during the preparation.
re: Roger Spark
I'm not sure I agree about common suplier on this one, but I do agree that the attention to detail during the preparation is key.
I think its what the steak house does after it recieves it's meat order that makes the differance. As well as the rubs, seasonings, cooking heat source (grill, oven or broiler), chef etc. these elements can make it all a total wildcard on the outcome the steak you get at you table..
Both places are good, but I think Pete Miller's is significantly better, and consistently so. (I've been to both places numerous times, including both earlier this year.) Pete's also can do more things better; for example, the last time I ate at Pete Miller's, I had sauteed skate and it was heavenly. Oh, and yes, their steaks are excellent too! My recollection is that the prices are similar at both places.
Regarding parking near Pete Miller's... If your relatives are staying in Evanston, they are probably staying at the Hilton Garden, Orrington, or Best Western, all of which are easy walking distance from Pete Miller's. For yourself and others who may be driving to join them, you have several options for parking. Pete Miller's offers valet parking, at least during dinner hours. You also have two close, inexpensive options for self parking: (a) From Pete Miller's, go north on Sherman and make the first left (at Davis); on that block on your right, you'll see an entrance to the self-park garage in the high-rise (Sherman Plaza). Rates are reasonable (first hour free, 1-2 hours $2, 2-3 hours $3, etc). (b) A block south of PM's on Sherman is a public parking garage with metered spaces on the lower level. This garage is just north of and adjoining the Best Western. (It's not well labeled; it looks like it's only for the Best Western, but it's a city lot.) At peak times (weekend evenings) you may find that the Best Western lot is full; I've never had problems finding a space at Sherman Plaza (although it's only a year old and I'm not sure whether the building is fully occupied yet). More parking info on the city's website at www.cityofevanston.org/departments/pa...
We ate at Pete Miller's in Evanston again tonight, and were just blown away; everything was sinfully delicious. Note - we didn't have steak, so if you're looking for a steak review, skip the rest of this post. ;)
Incidentally, they just started a new menu in the past week, so some of the items may sound new. Their website has already been updated for the new menu - kudos to them for that.
We started with an excellent Caesar salad - conventional, and just extremely well done. Another starter was the "cole slaw with a horseradish kick", and this was terrific. It's very similar to the cole slaw at Carson's - creamy and tangy, with the cabbage cut very fine. The horseradish did indeed add a kick to it - not overwhelmingly spicy, but you could definitely taste that it was there. In fact, I now suspect that horseradish may be the ingredient that makes Carson's cole slaw so tangy and good! Carson's is the best cole slaw I've had in many years and is my standard for judging cole slaw, and this was a darn close second.
For dinner, my dining companion and I got two seafood dishes. One was the seared jumbo sea scallops with butternut squash ravioli and gorgonzola cream sauce. Sheer ecstasy!!! I should note here that I love scallops, but I rarely order them because too often, either they are tasteless, or they are not prepared to my taste. (I prefer them "cooked through" and ask for them this way; any restaurant should be able to cook them any way you like, of course.) These were the best scallops I have had in many years! Not only were the insides cooked through, just the way I requested, but they were fresh and bursting with flavor, and the outside edge was perfectly seared, to the point where it had a caramelized taste. Bravo!!! The ravioli were delicious although the pasta layers were a bit too thin and, as a result, they stuck to each other and places where the corners/edges weren't covered with sauce quickly dried out and became chewy. I am probably being overpicky with my description, as they were really, really delicious; I would just suggest that the pasta layers might be a bit thicker and/or making sure the ravioli were completely covered with sauce to avoid the sticking and chewy aspects. The gorgonzola cream sauce quantity was a bit small so it didn't have a big impact on flavor, but that was actually perfect for this particular dish, I think. This was a wonderful seafood dish.
The other entree was the pecan encrusted walleye pike with a lemon caper sauce. This was outstanding as well; the fish was very fresh and with a mild, delicious flavor, which balanced perfectly with the pecan crust and the mild flavor of the sauce. Just excellent.
We substituted the thin cut fried onions as the side with the pike, and they were excellent - very light and flavorful, not at all greasy. They were served with a light mustard sauce that was also very good.
We were full so we passed on dessert.
This was a wonderful dinner in every respect. Pete Miller's continues to turn out excellent food - and obviously, they do many things well - not just steaks!