Dry-aged beef, lively atmosphere impress at Grillhouse by David Burke
Grillhouse by David Burke in Schaumburg hasn't been open long, but I can foresee it quickly becoming a local favorite.
The restaurant, which opened in late October by New York-based celebrity chef David Burke, offers a wider range of menu items than a traditional steakhouse does, and puts a different spin on some of the dishes he offers at David Burke Primehouse in Chicago's James Hotel. But the beef, its preparation, quality and Burke's patented drying method remain unaltered; he dry-ages his meats in a Himalayan salt-tiled aging room on the premises.
Besides Burke's signature beef, Grillhouse offers contemporary American fare with what the restaurant calls a farm-to-table focus and includes pork, chicken, duck, seafood and even burgers. After dining here on a recent Saturday and sampling some menu highlights at a grand opening party, what's difficult here is making decisions.
The menu opens with "table shares," including meat and cheese boards and flatbreads that are, as the name implies, made for sharing. For starters, there are raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, crabcake fritters. And then there are soups and salads.
Our server also mentioned the restaurant's local focus yet the menu doesn't cite local farms or vendors used. The only items listed as truly local were craft beers on the beverage menu.
Our server helped with suggestions and information regarding a full but not huge wine list. She also sought answers to any questions to which she didn't know the answer. Open for such a short time before our initial visit, staff seemed knowledgeable and accommodating.
My friend and I opted for starters, she choosing the Farmer's Onion Soup made with short ribs, Swiss and Gruyere cheeses, and I choose the beet salad, which was as lovely as it was delicious. Roasted and chopped red and golden beets mixed with goat cheese, fennel, kale and blood orange. Simple, pretty and tasty. The soup was a smooth, rich beef broth with slightly caramelized onions and topped with nicely charred and crispy cheese. It was also a large portion and with a salad or side could easily stand in as a filling entree.
For our main courses, my friend chose the 30-day dry-aged New York Strip steak that weighed in at 14 ounces. She asked for medium-rare and that's exactly what she got. Our expectations were high for the steak, and it did not disappoint. It was juicy and hot, pink and just a bit crusty with melt-in-your-mouth flavor. It's ruined cling-wrapped, massed-produced beef for me.
I'm gushing already and that was my friend's dinner. From the many tempting options, I ordered the roasted duck breast with corn, spaetzle, baby turnips, drizzled with a not-too-sweet pomegranate molasses. The duck came perfectly medium-rare. It was tender, flavorful and the plate looked like the best of a local harvest. Unfussy and elegant. Each ingredient is allowed to shine.
Side dishes are big enough for two and include mushroom potato hash, bacon brussels sprouts, green beans and shallots, french fries, roasted squash, potato purée, macaroni and cheese and creamed spinach. We chose the mac and cheese and enjoyed every bite of this grown-up version of a childhood favorite.
We had a hard time agreeing on dessert. For one, Burke's Cheesecake Lollipops with bubble gum whipped cream are a signature option. There's a tempting panna cotta, cookies and milk, fresh fruit and much more. We opted for something fitting to a cold and snowy evening: warm pear financier served with raspberry sauce and salted caramel gelato. The gelato was a cool, sweet and salty complement to the warm fragrant pears encased in soft cake.
Grillhouse has taken over the 22,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Entourage, which closed in 2010. Attractive dividers keep the dining room from feeling overwhelmingly large. There are several small private areas for parties on the main floor and banquet rooms on the second floor.
There's also a more-than-roomy bar with cozy seating areas for talking and a wider space for watching the game on TV or meeting after work for drinks and an order of pastrami salmon or oysters or crabcake fritters.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.
Grillhouse by David Burke1301 American Lane, Schaumburg, (847) 517-1600, www.dbgrillhouse.com
Cuisine: Steaks, farm-to-table focused American fare
Hours: Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. daily; lunch: 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday