Benny's Chop House | River North | Steaks/Lobster | Restaurant
Clubbily appointed steak house from the owner of Volare; the chef is Jonathan Lane (the Four Seasons).

Our Review

I guess there really aren't enough steak houses around to serve the needs of the legions of jowly blazered conventioneers that hajj through the city every day. Now Volare impresario Benny Siddu has thrown in with Benny's Chop House, transforming the former home of Jazz Record Mart into a clubby, stuffy warren of rooms subliminally sound-tracked with boomer-friendly classic rock (unless it's Saturday, when there's live jazz in the bar). The slabs, dry aged or not, are fat and competently fired, and come with a cute little Yorkshire pudding that entertainingly bleeds red wine reduction all over the plate when prodded. But nothing blasphemous will challenge the average wayfarer—or amuse seasoned locals, notwithstanding some imaginative but ultimately off-kilter cocktails like the disastrous Aviation, made with sweet Old Tom Gin and Lillet. The house makes a big deal about flying in its seafood daily, though overcooked giant Madagascar prawns, a miserly and overseasoned halibut steak, and a mushy tempura-fried soft-shell crab special undercut the boasts. The sides, appetizers, and salads seem alternately competent and underwhelming—the merits of steak tartare with ruffled potato chips are suspiciously obscured by an abundance of horseradish seasoning, and the so-called "liver and onions" seems nothing more than an attempt to make seared foie gras as boring as possible. A handful of perfectly serviceable pastas are available in appetizer or entree portions--the Bolognese with tagliatelle is particularly robust—and in general the most pedestrian things are the most enjoyable—a grilled sheaf of romaine, bright green creamed spinach, a crispy discus of hash browns. But overall there are far less conventional steak houses around to splurge or spill an expense account on.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$$
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