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Sub – Prime

Sunday, June 24, 2012 @ 05:06 PM

**Disclaimer: This next restaurant was very dark inside, therefore our pictures aren’t great, please don’t judge too harshly!**

Who doesn’t love a good steak? Well I guess vegetarians or those crazy people who don’t like red meat, but let’s be real, they don’t count. Winking smile Sorry if that came out sounding totally rude, but me really likes-a-da-red-meat! And I’m not so picky that I need some ridiculously pricy extravagant steak…not at all. In fact, my hubby just cooked us up some mean New York Strips from our local Kroger this weekend and they were AMAZING! We’ve learned what to look for in a good steak and have fun combining different seasonings and throwing those bad boys on the grill for a simple summer meal.

That being said, we are not opposed to shelling out some dough for a good steak in a restaurant, and we’ve had some great steaks. Unfortunately, however, we’ve learned over time that some places are way more hype and way more expensive than they are worth; and I hate to say it, but this next PCC spot more closely falls into the latter category. So without further ado, this week we at PCC bring you David Burke’s Primehouse.


What makes writing this post so sad was just how excited we were to eat here. I mean, celebrity chef David Burke’s premier restaurant has been voted one of the best steakhouses in not just Chicago but the country by a multitude of publications and critics and has gained national notoriety for Burke’s dry aged beef. Needless to say, it has a stellar reputation, and for all those reasons, Adam and I built it up a lot and couldn’t wait to try one of the steaks aged anywhere from 28 to 78 days.

The Primehouse is located in the popular and trendy James Hotel in Chicago, and has created a menu that “continues to redefine modern American cuisine by pushing the envelope of culinary creativity” ( While we weren’t familiar with the famed restaurant while we lived in the city, the Primhouse has gained a large following due to the increasing popularity of dry aged beef. To be honest I’m not really sure why (having never tried it before then) hearing the words “dry aged” illicit such a mouth watering response. But, it does, and I guess I am easily persuaded by what’s trendy (surprise surprise). clip_image002

So I couldn’t shake the idea of being able to try something that was not only dry aged but for 75 DAYS!!! And when we had the opportunity to go into the city for our first ever weekend away from the baby, it was hard not to consider really treating ourselves and sharing that steak with a few sides. I mean…what a better meal then a steak aged to perfection and some savory sides of comfort (baked potato hash, mac and cheese, and truffle fries just to name a few!)

Before I dive into the full-on review, I should be honest and say that this could very well be another case of “Adam and Katie get TOO excited and totally build up the entire experience in their head before actually trying it.” However, there have also been incidents where we have built it up and it has totally met our expectations. Unfortunately, this one just missed the mark. For starters, we had made a reservation for that evening, a bit later in the evening so we could actually take advantage of getting a nap in that afternoon and enjoy a late night dinner. So when we arrived, I was sort of expecting our table to be ready. It wasn’t. While this was not a huge deal (we each grabbed a very reasonable $10 cocktail each :-D), I just sort of don’t understand the point of taking a reservation if the table isn’t ready for you upon arrival? However, we quickly learned why…when we were seated, we were told it just so happened to be Restaurant Week in Chicago; and if you aren’t familiar with this concept, a great deal of the city’s top restaurants all offer a pre-fix menu so patrons who wouldn’t typically want to pay to enjoy that restaurant are allowed to get to still experience it. It is a really fun way to try a lot of top notch places that you might not typically go to regularly, but this concept leads to why we were not as pleased with our Primehouse experience.

While I think Restaurant Week is an awesome concept, what we were unaware of when we made our reservation was that we would only be able to order from a pre-selected menu, not their full dinner menu which we had planned out earlier…remember us planning on sharing that 75-day aged steak? Of course we didn’t find this out until we had already been seated and were looking for the 75-day on the menu…it wasn’t there! At that point we seriously had some discussions about leaving and trying it another time, but decided to stick it out and order the dry aged steak option they were offering, which mind you was not the 75 day dry-aged we were hoping to try, but rather only the 55-day.








I’ll be the first to admit this whole “only being able to order off a certain menu” kind of put a bad taste in my mouth, especially when we were so amped for something that wasn’t offered that night. I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just had gone in expecting to try certain foods and now I could only order limited items that were less appealing to me. This, coupled with the fact that our waiter somehow convinced us we had to each order a whole meal and if we wanted to order the dry aged steak it was another $30 or so, didn’t make us very happy either. I ended up ordering the salmon, which was decent, but really not what I was in the mood for and ordered simply because I thought I HAD to order my own meal. I just felt duped

We both enjoyed bites of Adam’s steak, but agreed that it wasn’t near the best we’ve ever had and that the price tag was pretty hefty for what it was. In fact, we had steaks the next day with our family at Kelsey’s in Valparaiso that were just as good if not better tasting for more than half the price! But I digress…I think we were just very disappointed with first and foremost the fact that we were not allowed to order off their regular menu (which when we added up the cost of what we wanted, would have been more than what we paid anyway), that we were given the impression that I needed to order a full meal in order to eat there, and that nothing was so outstanding that it was worth the price. Even the mac & cheese tasted weird, which for Adam is unheard of!

Allow me to say that I was not unhappy with Primehouse because of the price. I am not above paying a lot for a meal. However, I think the meal should be the whole package, taste, service, overall experience when you shell out a lot. If I am going to pay a lot, I want to be “wined and dined.” I want to be treated respectfully, enjoy the ambiance, enjoy some drinks, and have food that is “the best I’ve ever had.” For a top notch trendy steakhouse that some folks would have to budget for, I was hoping that Primehouse would fit this bill, and well… it just didn’t. When I feel I can grill up a better steak at home, you’ve failed as a high end steakhouse in my opinion…sorry.

SIGNATURE DISH: Dubbed a Modern American Steakhouse, Primehouse has a pretty major focus on steak, in particular that they are dry aged…up to 75 days to be exact!

TASTE: While we both agreed the flavor of our steak was good, it didn’t blow us out of the water by any means; and considering its price, I was expecting more WOW! We also were sad we didn’t get to try a lot of the side dishes we had our eyes on, so while the dishes we tried were ok, again nothing over the top with flavor.

AMBIANCE: The restaurant was not what I was expecting, especially when it is dubbed as ‘The Modern American Steakhouse.’ It felt more like a high-end bistro and nothing like a steakhouse. Being in downtown, it is very nice on the inside, but honestly…it wasn’t unique and I could have been anywhere. Plus, the ambient lighting (which did make photo taking a bit tricky), didn’t work in this space.

PRICE: HIGH!!!! STEAP!!!! A LOT!!! If you hadn’t guessed already, this was an area where we were quite disappointed. We expected to drop close to $200 on this meal, but we figured it would be worth the price. It wasn’t, which made the bill at the end more disheartening.

SERVICE: I would say our waiter was as helpful as he could be given the circumstances. I think he could tell we were disappointed that we weren’t allowed to order off the regular menu, and once that was realized, we both got the feeling that we were not his favorite customers that night.

So while we didn’t particularly enjoy Primehouse, I would encourage you to go if given the opportunity and make your own decision. But I will say that I’m not completely sold on this whole dry aged business quite yet, and I’m not sure it really adds much more than a lot of hype which is why I am giving Primehouse a disappointing 2 ‘Little Piggies.’


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