Gene & Georgetti's - I don't get it?
Even though I'm a life-long Chicago resident I had never before set foot in G & G's. For those of you from other cities reading this post - G & G's is one of Chicago's oldest and most successful steak houses. We were in the neighborhood tonight for an Art Chicago event and thought we'd give it a go. Over the last 30+ years (the place has been around forever) I have read multiple glowing reviews about meat and sides. Well, this place is either resting on it's laurels or fetishsized for it's "Goodfellas" atmosphere and charm because the food is really nothing special. The place is definitely old school -- lot's of wood and red carpet, older male servers, stiff drinks and the requisite photos of politicians and celebs. The service is friendly and efficient, but the food....ehhhh. The bread and breadsticks (D'Amato's) served with soft, salty butter pats was the highlight of the meal. We started with a house salad (n/c included with the meal) with a decent enough oil & vinegar dressing (though the salad was woefully overdressed) and coleslaw ($8.95) which was drenched in the same dressing. The steaks, one Filet ($42) and one NY Strip ($39) were cooked to proper temperature, but unseasoned and completely lacking any beefy tang. I'm pretty sure the beef is standard issue,wet aged Allen Bros. The steaks had a dirty tasting char and as previously mentioned no seasoning whatsoever. We ordered creamed spinach ($10.95), but were received fried spinach drowing in oil with way too much garlic, salt and nutmeg rendering the dish unpalatable -- the garlic mashed taters ($4.95) suffered the same fate. Cottage fries (n/c) were decent enough though unevenly cooked. Dessert was an unmemorable, industrial tiramisu ($7.95). So what's the deal? This joint is packed every day at both lunch and dinner and it is certainly no value. My recommendation is to stop in for a couple of strong cocktails ($9), soak up a little of the old Chicago vibe and dine elsewhere.
Yep, that sounds like G&G.
I think it's the old school/Goodfellas quality of the place and the fact that "regulars" do seem to get special treatment that appeals to a certain clientele.
Too many other good restaurants in town for me to bother with this one, but it probably is worth a one-time visit, just to experience it.
Food-wise, it comes down to the debate over wet aged or dry aged. Experience-wise, i echo what you said. It is the same kind of experience like Cipriani's in NYC. Or Waverly Inn. (i hope Mr Carter doesn't read Chowhound. I still want my Vanity Fair lol). This really begs the question, what makes an institution an institution?