"Who cooked that hamburger?" That demand came from Arnie Morton as he burst into the Playboy Club's kitchen in Montreal. Klaus Fristch was the culprit, and to his relief, Arnie declared it the best he'd ever tasted. From that moment on, the pair formed a lasting partnership that resulted in several restaurants —including Morton's The Steakhouse, which opened as a basement spot on Chicago's State Street in 1978. While Morton's The Steakhouse has grown to include over 69 locations, they all remain true to the founders’ original tenets: “Quality. Consistency. Genuine Hospitality.” They use only USDA prime-aged beef—the top USDA ranking and a slim percentage of all meat—which they age for 23–28 days. To menu also accommodates lighter tastes with fresh seafood offerings, such as baked whole Maine lobsters and oysters in the half shell. This attention to detail and a business-casual ambiance has earned the chain several awards and press mentions throughout the years.
Thick cuts of meats and seafood broiled over an open charcoal flame travel to tables around Tom's Steak House's elegant dining room or full bar. Filets, rib eyes, and new york strip steaks are cut fresh every day and carried to linen-clothed tables in charcoal braziers, an oval warmer filled with charcoal to keep the steak at the ideal temperature to warm mouths or soothe neck pain. The menu's myriad selections of fresh seafood, sandwiches, and salads can be paired with fine wines that introduce the robust flavors of fermented grape. Bronze chandeliers and windows inscribed with art-deco patterns loom over booths where bar patrons sip cocktails.
Crystal chandeliers glint over Café la Cave's main lobby, beckoning diners into opulent ballrooms, spacious banquet rooms, and the cavern room itself. Inside the restaurant’s rock-lined walls, rippling lighting, and singing stalagmites, chefs carve and cook many entrees tableside, including the tenderloin medallions of steak Diane sautéed with garlic, shallots, and cognac. Cocktails from the full bar and a carefully selected wine list pair with entrees as smoothly as creamy sides of garlic mashed potatoes pair with wild-mushroom mac 'n' cheese.
Featured on one of Gayot’s Top 10 of 2012 lists, the seafood at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House "could not be fresher or better cooked." In addition to steaks and chops from its sister restaurant, Gibson’s, Hugo’s menu showcases a spread of classically prepared familiars including oysters on the half shell, pan-seared scallops, and giant lobster tails joined by drawn butter. But the eatery’s signature dish is a different kind of aquatic creature: frog legs arrive at tables sautéed and soaked in garlic butter. Maritime decor complements the nautical morsels, from nostalgic photographs of lighthouses to miniature models of ships to barnacles on the eyebrows of every server.
Using all-natural meats, Amish free-range chicken, and produce from Midwestern farmers’ markets, Hemmingway's Bistro serves fresh, flavorful French fare in an attractive, white-tablecloth-laden dining room. Executive Chef Ala's fondness for melt-on-your-tongue seafood makes its mark on the menu—the restaurant imports fish from the East Coast daily. Satiate seafood cravings with the herb-crusted whitefish paired with caper butter ($18.95), or guzzle away at the Dijon salmon with a side of cream lentils ($21.95). The Classic ($36.95) stuffs grumbling stomachs with half a lobster, nine oysters, three shrimp, three clams, six mussels, and two crabs. Before the main course, showcase your magic skills by cutting the baked brie topped with apricot preserves ($11.95) in half with your saw-teeth. Vegetarians can fork in warm goat-cheese petite salad ($7.95) while carnivores sink their teeth into the roasted lamb rack paired with ratatouille ($26.95). Cleanse your esophagus with a glass of '99 Saint Clement syrah ($9 for a glass) or an '06 Campanile pinot grigio ($7 for a glass) from Hemmingway's stockpile of red and white wines.
100 South Chop House emulates swanky 1950s supper clubs with ambient jazz, tender steaks, and ambrosial martinis. Diners can fork-spear a filet mignon, rib-eye, or skirt steak, or release the knife gripped between their teeth to slice into coconut-crusted and teriyaki-glazed fish such as mahi mahi, salmon, and sea bass mingling with jalapeño peppers. Burger patties sizzle under mounds of melting white cheddar, spicy blue, or buffalo mozzarella. Meanwhile, chefs simmer sauces such as asiago cream, basil tomato, and garlic white-wine to toss with pastas. Patrons can select glasses of wine from a roster of dozens, including myriad cabernets, merlots, and posh reserve vintages that arrive wearing fedoras and wingtips.