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Apr 23, 2011 08:27 PM

Primehouse review - Mediocre at Best

Our experience was mediocre at best. My one star reflects a beleif that one shouldn't pay $100 a person for mediocrity. Maybe this place was really good a few years ago, but I don’t get it.
We had a 6:30 reservation on a Saturday night. When we walked in there were about five hostesses talking with each other, apparently too busy with each other to notice guests arriving. They acknowledged us and then proceeded to take us through the dining room to a small deuce located directly next to the curtains separating the dining room from the kitchen. At this point the dining room was maybe 30% full; I would not seat guests at this table until all others were unavailable. We asked for a different table and were shown to a booth where the upholstery was coming off (I uploaded a picture of this). I took a closer look at our table and realized it was a plastic table covered with vinyl. This would not normally be a big deal, but this is $100/pp.
Our server was very friendly and immediately brought us a wine list and menu. We ordered the wedge salad, the arugula salad, a filet, a 35 day KC strip, the baked potato gnocchi and tempura fried green beans. Here are my thoughts.
Popover bread – this was pretty good but I’ve had better. No real complaints here.
Wedge salad – this was our favorite. A more modern take on an iceberg wedge.
Arugula salad – arugula with pine nuts and smoked tomatoes. I enjoyed the smokiness of the tomatoes with the peppery arugula.
35 day KC Sirloin – the steak was really crusty on the outside, and some parts of the crust even seemed gritty, like it came off of a dirty grill. I could taste the gamey aged quality especially near the bone and it was different.
European cut filet – again the outside was really charred and that flavor overpowered the rest of the steak.
I understand that grass fed beef can be inconsistent, but I expected much higher quality of the steaks.
Baked potato gnocchi – This was not the fluffy gnocchi I have experienced at other steak houses like BLT steak. It was a very heavy gnocchi in a rich sauce.
Tempura fried green beans—expected a light tempura batter, what we got was overcooked green beans in a greasy batter.
In summary, there is nothing special about this place and the basic dishes aren’t high enough quality to justify the price.

David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. I don't see how you get $100 a person when you ordered a $9-11 salad and a $39 steak. Even the $58 steak, with salad and tax/tip, doesn't add up to $100.

    I've never paid anywhere close to $100/pp there. (Although I haven't ordered the $58 steak, either.)

    7 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Do you not drink wine with dinner? Burke is $100pp easy. And I agree it is inconsistent.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Let's see here. The two steaks are $97. The salads are $20. The sides are $27 (assuming the gnocchi is the $20 menu option and not a special side for the night). That's $144 total. With tax and 20% tip, you're at $192, or $96/person -- and that price does not include any beverages. If they each had a glass of wine, it's over $100/person.

        1. re: Mizer

          Well, most people don't order an entree as a side dish! And check your math; $144 plus tax ($14.40) plus 20 percent tip ($28.80) doesn't get you to $192.

          You can also go to Burke's Sundays through Wednesdays for their "Baby Burke menu", with three courses for $40:

          I'm not doubting that you spent $100 per person. But the point I was making is, if you don't want to spend $100 per person there, you don't have to; you can get a full dinner and spend a lot less than that. You're not likely to get anywhere near $100 per person unless you order some of the most expensive items and/or order a high quality/quantity of alcohol. Or, order more than one entree per person (something I wouldn't have thought of until it was mentioned here).

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Here is a simplified breakdown of the check:

            Two $50 steaks
            Two $11 salads
            Two $10 sides
            That is about $75 per person if one drinks tap water.

            We had a $58 bottle of wine ($15 in a wine shop). Total bill was $209 with tax.

            However, I don't want to belabor the price. I would not have been happy with the quality of the food if it was $30 per person.

            I gladly pay similar prices at other steakhouses in New York, but get a much higher quality experience in cuisine, service and atmosphere.

            1. re: willygreen

              I'm not a fan of David Burke either. But I must say that New York has its fair share of overrated steakhouses - Peter Luger being one of them. Meanwhile in Chicago, try Tango Sur or Rosebud (the one by the Drake).

              1. re: willygreen

                Funny thing is that David Burke is a New Yorker and yes, I agree that a few years ago this place was tops. Now, I am less impressed. My still favorite and best executed steak is at Joe's AND you can have some stone crab claws with it.

                1. re: jbontario

                  I am with you on Joe's. Everything we've ordered there has been top-notch, including very professional and excellent service.

        2. In total agreement with the original poster. I was super psyched to go primehouse. People got tired of me talking about the 55 day dry aged prime rib eye I was going to eat in CHicago.

          Two sixty buck over cooked ribeyes later and I will never recommend the place again. FIrst steak ordered medium rare came out medium well to well. Sent it back and the next one came out medium at best. I'm not talking what most premium steakhouses consider medium but backyard medium. Way overdone. At that point I realized there was no hope and just wanted to get done with the experience.

          Steak was flavorful but not remotely close to what I was expecting. My local butcher dry ages about 35 days and i must say in my preperation I can taste the dry age. Primehouse preparation you taste the char or whatever that black crust is.

          THis is not my first rodeo. I have been in the high end food business since my first job at 15 as a prep cook in the best restaurant in town. Primehouse is just a very mediocre restaurant. The popovers which were the highlight were still tough and overcooked. I take it back, the highlight was the truffle fries. They were very good.

          Oh and my wife got the prime dry aged burger that was to be medium and was really well done. SO well done that when I showed the server and manager they just took it off the bill.

          On the upside, I wandered into Gibsons earlier in the day to get a cocktail and wound up ordering the filet sliders. The BEST steak sandwich ever! little super tender simple sandwiches. I love the idea of a steak sandwich but they are usually just a fight to eat. THese little sliders were perfect. Just a nice brioche I think roll with maitre d butter and the filet tips. Just 12.95! Best thing I ate in CHicago hands down. And I ATE in CHicago.