The end of 2015 has been all about the steakhouse, with STK, Swift & Sons and Maple & Ash opening within a few weeks of each other. I went to all three within a five-week period and my date and I ordered the same thing at each: cocktails to start and wine with the meal, a seafood starter, bone-in rib eye, surf and turf (or filet with crab Oscar if it wasn't available), creamed spinach and an ice cream dessert. I added a couple dishes at each place but aimed to keep each meal as similar as possible, for comparison's sake. The verdict? I would recommend all three, each for different reasons. Here's a breakdown.
STK: If you want a lively atmosphere (and are under 40), head to STK. The food is solid, servers are nice and the perfectly cooked bone-in rib eye was the best of the three. The champagne room for dessert is great.
Maple & Ash: If you want a lively atmosphere (and are over 40), try Maple & Ash. It's the best choice for drinkers, too—Cristiana DeLucca's cocktails are wonderful and the wine list is impressive. I'm looking forward to a visit to the downstairs bar to try more of her drinks, alongside a burger. Though at some point I'll also be back for those roasted crab legs.
Swift & Sons: If you prefer a calmer atmosphere, you'll find it at Swift & Sons. With citrus-poached lobster and a cap steak, S&S's surf and turf was the best of the three (I am now obsessed with cap steak). Meg Galus's grapefruit sorbet was the best ice cream dish (and maybe the best ice cream I had all year), and the hot platter was the most interesting seafood dish. In terms of service, it's hard to beat a Boka restaurant, and Swift & Sons was no exception.
For more steakhouse picks, check out our updated guide to the best Chicago steakhouses.