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Grass Fed [Closed]

Restaurants, Steakhouse Wicker Park
2 out of 5 stars
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsGrass Fed
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsGrass Fed
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsGrass Fed

No need to wonder what a steakhouse would look like if its design was inspired solely by Pinterest. Just go to Grass Fed, the cutest restaurant this side of Molly’s Cupcakes. The walls are wainscoted, the place is as sunny as a beach house, and it’s all very, very white. It’s awfully nice, and I could go on about how breezy and chic and okay, I’m not embarrassed to say it, L.A. it is. But Grass Fed isn’t just a room. It’s a restaurant. And as such, it is struggling.

The problem is not with the concept, which is streamlined and appealing: Grass Fed offers a single main course—steak frites—which comes with a small green salad for $25. If the salad were the perfectly simple plate of herb-strewn Bibb lettuce from Maude’s, if the steak were a gorgeous aged rib eye from David Burke’s Primehouse, if the fries were of the extra-crispy Redhot Ranch variety, this would be a perfect meal. (Full disclosure: It would also pretty much be my dream meal.) But what you get at Grass Fed is nothing like that. The salad is a bowl of mixed greens and cubes of undercooked beets, the kind of thing you’d assemble for yourself post-yoga at the Whole Foods salad bar. The frites taste like soggy, old In-N-Out fries, skin-on but not the least bit crispy. Last and certainly least, there is the puzzle of the steak itself. True, the grass-fed beef is cooked to the proper temperature, and it’s tender and juicy. And yet—it’s a really bad steak. It lacks that enticing exterior crust and char, and it simply has no beef flavor. Which perhaps is why the kitchen decided to bury it in salt and marinate it in a tarragon-heavy herb sauce (which is also plated underneath the steak). Show me someone who wants their steak to taste primarily like anise, and dinner for two at Grass Fed is on me.

The primary offering here is so disappointing that even if the add-ons—cocktails, sides, desserts—were amazing, it would be a challenge to recommend this restaurant. Unsurprisingly, that’s a bridge that never need be crossed. The roasted cauliflower side hadn’t caramelized, the carbonated cocktails were hit or miss (Bucktown mule: hit; jalapeño-infused tequila cocktail: just tastes like watermelon). And one dessert, grainy butterscotch pot de crème, was a mishap while another, gooey chocolate-chip cookies, was a simple success.

Toward the end of one meal, the chef, Dirul Shamsid-Deen, was making the rounds through the restaurant and introduced himself. “If you’re the chef,” I asked coyly, “who’s cooking the food?”

“C’mon,” he said. “Everyone knows chefs don’t actually cook.”

Not this one, anyway.

By: Julia Kramer


Venue name: Grass Fed [Closed]
Address: 1721 N Damen Ave

Cross street: between St. Paul Ave and Willow St
Opening hours: Brunch (Sat, Sun), lunch (Mon–Fri) dinner (closed Sun)
Transport: El stop: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72, 73. Train: Union Pacific N to Clybourn.
Price: Average prix fixe: $25
Do you own this business?
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