It's not easy to make the case that this town needs yet another clubby steak house, but at Chicago Cut Steakhouse managing partners Matt Moore and David Flom have done their damnedest. The restaurant's on the river, at the epicenter of serious expense-account dining territory, and views out the dining room windows are equaled only by the spectacle inside, where there's some of the best beautiful-people watching in town. In the back of the house is all the infrastructure you need to prepare a perfect steak: a dry-aging room, in-house butchers, and Southbend infrared broilers, which blast their prime aged meat with 1,800-degree waves from all directions. Out front an army of polished servers gives the new space an established feel. These pros seem unfazed by the overbooked room, the demanding clientele, and the iPad technology lesson they must give to each customer wanting a bottle of wine. The iPad wine-list app is a real innovation, but could prove to be more work than it's worth—especially with the older set. But even with all it has going for it, two months in, Chicago Cut still fumbles when it comes to execution. Appetizers fall between tired and disappointing. A crab and avocado cocktail tasted tinny; Alpine Cove oysters were massacred by a sloppy shucker who left shards of shell embedded in their shriveled, juiceless bodies. Steaks and seafood entrees were better, but not by much. Despite its tiny pick that read medium rare, a porterhouse, which appeared more like a T-bone in stature, was cooked to every temperature in the book—the fillet side was rare (and quite good), but the strip side was at least half well-done. A perfectly medium-rare bone-in rib eye lacked the nutty tang of a superior dry-aged steak. And neither cut had enough salt to create the crusty goodness that is the steak-house hallmark. Surf options like sushi-grade scallops and Dover sole were just fine served dressed in various combinations of butter and lemon, but not enough to win back my culinary goodwill. Chicago Cut may be just as good as it has to be, given its location and clientele. But given all the thought that went in to setting up the joint, it seems a shame not to shoot for better.
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