There really is a barn in Evanston, “The Barn Steakhouse” set inside a restored 19th century brick barn hidden away in the heart of Evanston. Built in 1883, the building first served as the Borden Condensed Milk Company’s horse and buggy delivery station.
The Barn, under the proprietorship of Amy Morton, 4th generation of Chicago’s famed restaurant family became a restaurant in 2016–opening to rave reviews.
From the beginning the focus was on steaks but recently it has become even more intense with many more cuts included on the menu along with the addition of Steakhouse to the name of the restaurant.
Amy, who grew up in the restaurant biz as the daughter of steakhouse legend Arnie Morton, already was riding high with Found Kitchen and SocialHouse restaurants (also in Evanston) before opening the Barn.
Although Chicago has a number of well known steakhouses, it is not easy to find a classic steakhouse in the suburbs.
Now that has changed.
The Barn Steakhouse has the feel of a traditional steakhouse with deep roots. The space, complete with a soaring 20-foot rustic ceiling hung with twinkling chandeliers, the original hayloft, an inviting bar and an outdoor patio is casual and elegant–maintaining the charming elements from the over 125-year-old horse stable meshed with an eclectic mix from today.
On fair weather days, guests can dine al fresco on the charming patio.
Prepared tableside, The Little Gem Salad ($11.95), which has been on the menu since day one, is prepared on a small cart wheeled by the table. The salad with Dijon dressing, chopped egg, pumpkin seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pickled Vidalia onions, and anchovies is a twist on traditional Caesar–a winner in my book–and something I wouldn’t hesitate to order again.
The crabcake appetizer (15.95) is a nice size and loaded with meaty king and lump crab served with green goddess aioli, lime and garlic.
Although there are some interesting seafood selections on the menu including Roasted Branzino (34.95) and Seared Halibut (32.95), I say when in a steakhouse, order steak.
So I did.
The steak menu offers six cuts including: A 14 oz. Dry-Aged New York (63.95); a 8 oz. Center Strip Manhattan Cut (39.95);a 16 oz. Bone-In Ribeye (48.95);a 14 oz. New York cut (47.95);an 8 oz. Filet Mignon (45.95) and a 16 oz. Dry-Aged Bone-In Ribeye.
I went for the Dry-Aged Bone-in Ribeye.
All the steaks are served with red wine demi-glace and mouthwatering marrow-butterball potatoes with optional toppers available at an additional charge.
An extensive selection of Old and New World wine offerings, craft beers and creative cocktails round out the modern steakhouse experience. Wine is available by the glass or the bottle at a variety of price points.
The drink menu offers a nod to the glamour days of old Hollywood. There’s the French 75, a gin-based cocktail straight out of Casablanca—the drink of choice for Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. James Bond would feel at home with his fav, the Vespers (at Woodland) on the menu.
The current Mezcal craze–a favorite of George Clooney–is not overlooked with the menu offering a very good Mezcal Old-Fashioned (13). A Morton family classic, the Mortini ($14) pays homage to Amy’s grandfather Morton C. Morton who created the Mortini in the 1930’s and served it in his restaurant for 35 cents.
Ahh..the good old days.
Evan Sumrell, formerly chef at Elmhurst’s One Fifty One, is new to the Barn Steakhouse and is determined to please. He plans to be adding his own special touches to the menu soon. When I asked him what cut was his favorite, he said the Dry-Aged Bone-In Ribeye.
Before I went to dinner at the Barn Steakhouse, I had read on Yelp that before the new chef’s arrival that some of steaks were over-charred–so I was on the watch.
I can report that Chef Evan’s Ribeye was charred just right.
All about the Steaks
Choosing the steaks for The Barn Steakhouse involved an intensive research tasting process by Morton and her team that looked at the texture, flavor and visual qualities while still making sure socially conscious practices were used.
Meats by Linz, a family-owned business in Calumet City with more than 50 years of experience, was selected. “We chose them based on flavor,” says Morton. “Then knowing their mindfulness and personal commitment to being the best stewards of the planet made Meats by Linz a perfect partner for us. They’re not a cookie-cutter business and neither is The Barn Steakhouse.”
The Finishing Touch
The dessert menu includes five choices from cakes to berries to a selection of Artisan Cheeses.Topping the list is Arnie’s Chocolate Velvet Cake with raspberry coulis (8.95)–for good reason. Not only is it seductive but it has a history.
Amy says that the cake was the signature item at Arnie’s (back in the 1970’s). Arnies was the restaurant that came before Morton’s that has often been credited as the kickstarter for the restaurant revolution that we know today in Chicago.
Old timers may remember the stunning art deco spectacular space located at 1030 State Street in the Newberry Plaza – that was home to Arnie’s and then Morton’s.
Taking a Closer Look
The renovation of the barn left many of the original features intact. If you look closely you’ll see the boarded up windows–most noticeable on the west wall (both inside and outside). Legend has it that these windows were where the horses watched the sunset.
Not a believer–don’t be a neighsayer.
The discoloration visible on walls throughout recalls the hayloft.
Outside, look for the old green barn door that is believed to be the original. It has been restored and re-hung.
The Barn Steakhouse
Rear 1016 Church Street
Small Bites of Chicago
CHICAGO TRIBUNE FOOD BOWL
Back for its second year, the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl offers visitors and locals an opportunity to experience a slice of our city’s second-to-none food scene starting with the opening night preview at City Hall on August 13 with a ton of programs and events continuing through September 1.
It’s Opening night…
Preview night for the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl will take place on August 13 at the new Fulton Market hotspot, City Hall. The evening will feature collaborative tastings from Birrieria Zaragoza, Brown Sugar Bakery, City Hall, The Duck Inn, Mi Tocaya Antojería, Sanchez (Copenhagen), The Swill Inn, Virtue, and more. The all-inclusive price is only $75. Ages 21 or older.
RESTAURANT WEEK IN RIVER NORTH
Monday, August 5th will kick off the third annual RWxRN (Restaurant Week by River North), a week-long event highlighting the culinary offerings in River North neighborhood. Spearheaded by Tortoise Supper Club co-owners (and life-long Chicagoans,) Keene & Megan Addington, RWxRN features specially priced prix-fixe menus and limited-edition dishes from a curated list of River North restaurants.
It’s not too early to get tickets for Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet coming the last week in September. The big event, Chicago Gourmet, in Millennium Park takes place Saturday, September 28 & Sunday, September 29.
But there’s a host of other events throughout the preceding week including, my favorite, the 10th annual Hamburger Hop on Friday, September 27 from 6-9 p.m. at the Harris Theater Rooftop.
Many events including the BIG weekend sell out fast, so hurry if you want to attend. Tickets are on sale now at chicagogourmet.org.
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