For a city with roots in meatpacking, it’s no surprise that steak tartare—the unapologetically carnivorous dish of seasoned raw beef bound with egg—has caught on in a big way. Versions of this classic French dish abound at French restaurants and steakhouses (Maude’s Liquor Bar’s classically Parisian take, with luscious beef tenderloin laced with capers, raw onion and parsley, topped with a custardy poached egg yolk and plated with charred toast and mustardy aioli, makes converts out of most). If you’re a devotee on the hunt for new ways to love raw meat, here are six brand-new tartares to try at Chicago restaurants.
New steak tartares
Like butter, bone marrow is one of those magic ingredients that can improve any dish. Nonetheless, it’s surprising to see it paired with beef tartare at the Czech-inspired Boho House. The roasted marrow, the vinegar- and horseradish-laced raw beef and peppery watercress are layered on a hefty slice of charred sourdough that results in a combo that’s oddly, wonderfully reminiscent of the perfect roast beef sandwich.
Housed in a former butcher shop/deli, this German-influenced brasserie takes its meat seriously. The tartare—laced with capers and herbs, topped with a tiny quail egg yolk and flanked by similarly petite brioche toasts—is the most traditional of the bunch. But the meat mixture stands on its own: The sumptuous blend of rich, marbled ribeye, lean sirloin and velvety filet showcases the textural nuances of each cut. Pair it with a glass of brightly acidic Domaine Filliatreau Les Grand Vignolles Cabernet Franc from the list of unique wines from the (equally serious) minds behind Bucktown’s Red & White Wines.
At first glance, The Gage’s bison tartare appears unusual because of the choice of meat. But it turns out that mild bison offers the perfect canvas for all sorts of flavorings. And here, the additions are what make this dish so intriguing. The tender bison is mixed with fried capers and tossed in bourbon aioli, then topped with prickly frisee and sweet-hot Calabrian chiles, all served alongside a mound of salty Grana Padano snow. Somehow it all works, and you may find yourself sopping up every last bit of that aioli—rich with a distinctive charred wood and caramel edge—from the plate. Don’t worry; they have more toast.
With its unapologetically minimalist presentation anchored by super-fresh handcut beef, the carne crudo at Piedmontese Osteria Langhe is one for meat purists. Lightly salted, coarsely chopped meat is enriched further by shavings of intensely eggy cured yolks and accompanied by long, thin crisp grissini (Italian breadsticks) and olive oil-dressed peppery arugula. With meat this good, you don’t need much else—except maybe a Negroni to wash it down.
Oceanic ingredients find their way into nearly every menu item at this nautically themed spot by the team behind Scofflaw. The tartare, which blends raw beef and subtly briny oysters, is a forehead-smackingly good way to let in a little sea. The soft, unctuous meat blend is lightly dusted with grated fresh horseradish and dotted with dime-sized salt and vinegar chips. Still-piquant pickled onions add heat, and the dish is cooled with a smear of horseradish cream on the plate.
Like everything on the menu at Taus Authentic, the beef tartare is rife with influences from owner Michael Taus’s Czech heritage and travels through Europe and Asia. The meat mixture is made up of finely chopped, meltingly tender beef filet, shallots, capers and a housemade XO sauce, with dried seafood, lemongrass, chilies, ginger and garlic. The accoutrements follow the same pattern and include soy–rice wine mayo, pickled daikon, and sesame and scallion brioche.