Benny's Chop House – Fine Dining meets Steakhouse

In a city filled with steakhouses, it’s hard to find one that stands out from the others.  At least, that’s what I thought until I had the pleasure of visiting Benny’s Chop House.  Last week I was invited to attend a media preview at Benny’s and I walked away from the event happily satiated and with a new favorite spot for dining in the River North area of Chicago.

Benny’s is located at 444 North Wabash Avenue between Nordstrom and the Trump Tower and features the artwork of expressionist Matt Lamb, as dozens of stunning paintings adorn the warm mahogany wooden walls. The bar and lounge is enticing, complete with comfortable bar seating, high-tops for dining, and a relaxed lounge area. The nightly entertainment enlivens this setting with energetic and soulful jazz, creating the perfect ambiance at Benny’s Chop House.  With all of this elegance and flair, one of the most important things to note is that Benny’s is not in the least pretentious.  The décor is warm and inviting and so is the staff.

On their website, they define their mission as, “redefining the modern chop house and transforming the way Chicagoans think about steak and potato dining.”  I can attest to the fact that this is not just a “steak and potatoes” venue.  Executive Chef Jonathan Lane has crafted a superb, surprising and eclectic menu that provides all of the standards one would expect from a steakhouse, while adding his own spectacular, fine dining twist to everything that leaves the kitchen.  He believes that with food and the restaurant you must serve the freshest and highest quality product available. The plate must be executed to perfection and the product at Benny’s must be consistent and the best.   Lane says, “I believe in using local farmers and fisherman that supply directly to the plate and using beef that is prime and top of its game.”

For our media lunch, Chef Lane prepared a four course menu.  The first course consisted of Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Benny’s Bone Marrow.  The crab cake was one of the best I have tasted since my move from the East Coast four years ago – focused on crab rather than the starchy “filler” that tends to overwhelm most crab cakes.  The biggest surprise of the day for me, however, was the bone marrow!  I had honestly never considered bone marrow as a menu item, but Benny’s has changed my thinking.  The marrow was perfectly prepared and covered with caramelized onions – a rich and satisfying accompaniment to the crab cakes.

The second course consisted of Chef Jonathan Lane’s Grilled Romaine along with the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Flatbread.  The concept of grilling romaine, while not totally unknown to me, was another lovely surprise.  The grilling process warms the romaine up, but the center still remains cool.  The smoky flavor paired perfectly with the shaved parmesan and the lemon-garlic vinaigrette.  This is a “signature” dish and one that I highly recommend.  The flatbread was also extraordinary with a light, crunchy, super-thin crust.  The mushrooms and truffle, as expected, were a great combination.

The entrée course was USDA Prime Natural Rib Eye, Home-Made Cured Maple Bacon, Spring Pea Tortelloni with Ricotta Salata, and Grilled Ramps with Spring Mushrooms.  At a chop house, the steak is “the thing” and Benny’s certainly does not disappoint.  This was a perfectly prepared, melt-in-your-mouth cut of steak.  All of the sides were prepared using fresh ingredients, many of them locally-sourced.  Chef Lane told us that he had harvested the ramps personally on a trip to Michigan the prior weekend.  One of the standouts of the meal, however, was the Home-Made Cured Maple Bacon.  If you love bacon, then this menu item is a must.

The dessert course, prepared by talented pastry chef Aaron Lundgren, was a trio consisting of Meyer Lemon Cloud with Honey Gold Tangerine Sorbet, Chocolate Pudding Cake with Toffee Ice Cream, and Milk Chocolate S’mores with Graham Cracker “Mud.”  As much as Chef Jonathan Lane is an artist in the kitchen, pastry chef Aaron Lundgren is an equally adept artist with dessert.  Each of the desserts featured on the trio was not only superbly prepared, but presented with elegance and flair.  I tend to gravitate towards citrusy things, so my winner was the Meyer Lemon Cloud, but if you’re a chocolate lover you must try the Chocolate Pudding Cake and/or the S’mores – chocolate overload but worth every bite!

You can follow Benny’s on Twitter at, on Facebook at or visit their website at  Their email is and their phone is 312-626-2444.






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