In the past few years the Lincoln Square/North Center area has proven itself to be a destination for fine dining with the likes of Iliana Regan’s Elizabeth, Chris Nugent’s Goosefoot, upscale French restaurant, Bistro Campagne and others.
The upscale steakhouse’s signature dish is a 28-day Dry Aged Strip Steak locally-sourced from farms in Illinois and Iowa that uphold humane standards and practices. All steaks are served with Knife’s Journeyman steak sauce that is made in-house from 22 different ingredients and aged in barrels.
But that’s only the beginning.
Careful attention is evident in every detail of the restaurant from their obscure and craft cocktails, to their extensive wine list, to the inventive menu.
Knife incorporates locally sourced ingredients into their dishes adding a modern interpretation often with an element of surprise–creating that unexpected something special in a dish.
When not available locally, fresh ingredients are flown in overnight such as the Ahi Tuna flown in from Hawaii for their Tuna Tartare.
Midwest and local purveyors are used for other menu items such as their Grilled Wedge Salad made with Baby iceberg from Urban Till (a hydroponic farm in Chicago) green goddess dressing, lobster mitts, bacon, bleu cheese, tomato and scallions ($16).
The pork dishes are made from Missouri’s Ozark Mountain hogs that are organic and hormone and antibiotic-free. While the luscious goat cheese and dairy products come from Wisconsin’s Nordic creamery.
The same careful attention given to the menu is evident in the decor.
Inside guests are enveloped in a contemporary setting featuring a rich color palette with comfortable red leather seating, mahogany wall panels complemented by Spanish wall tiles, a 10-seat bar space and warm lighting.
At a recent media tasting we were treated to an amazing line-up of intriguing tastes.
Our welcome cocktail, the Ellipism (pictured at the top of this post), featuring Remy Martin VSOP spheres, housemade orange liquer, bubbles, lemon and angostura bitters was a winner both visually and taste-wise.
It seems, every establishment tries to outdo each other with their craft cocktails, many of which are sweet or just a gimmicky combination of ingredients. Normally when given a choice, I opt for something simple.
The Knife cocktails are an exception. A carefully thought out drink menu, created by bar manager, Anthony Munger makes a statement in your mouth.
Each of the ten “craft and obscure” cocktails use a unique and original blend of spirits, bitters, liqueurs and other ingredients to create a sexy menu of choices with incredibility unique names.
The ethereal name Ellipism, Munger took from the Dictionary of Absurd Sorrows, it means “The sadness from never knowing your destiny.”
Another obscure cocktail we sampled is, the Opia made with a blend of Amontillado sherry, blueberry-shitake cordial, egg white and lime. The name means “The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.”
In addition there’s the more traditional cocktails made table-side including Martinis, Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Tonic. There’s local Draft Beer and bottled beer.
The comprehensive wine list offers wine by the glass or bottle with a variety of price points from a low of $12 glasses and bottles in the mid $30’s to a 1990 Barbaresco, Gaja, Piedmont Reserve at $285.
Other dishes we sampled from the creative genius of Chef Cottini, whose impressive resume includes stints at places including North Pond, Ambria and Cafe Ba-
The “Sides” are definitely not an afterthought. The Twice Baked Potatoes blanketed with bacon, fontina, scallions & creme fraiche for only $8 are some of the tastiest I’ve ever experienced. Same for the Macaroni Gratin that can be ordered on its own for $7. The smoked hand-cut Frittes with lemon aioli is another winner priced as a side for $6.
Make sure to save room for dessert featuring creative takes on traditional favorites including a beautiful Baked Alaska.
View a pre-opening version of the menu here. View Knife menus here. The Byers are also opening up early reservations to anyone who likes Knife on Facebook. Reservations can be made online at Knife or Reserve or by Phone at 773 799-8283.
5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday
5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday
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