“On State Street that great street I just want to say
They do things they don’t do on Broadway
They have a time, the time of their life
I saw a man who danced with his wife…” In Chicago of course in the old days when “Old Blue Eyes” sang that song, you immediately knew there would be good times, and that is how I think of the venerable Chicago Chop House. Of course the restaurant was not on State Street, but the idea is still the same. I had a customer that refused to dine in any establishment that had “steak” in their name, so this restaurant would have passed his quirk, and Chicago was always known for having great steaks, so what else would I have had, and this was back before all of the exotic steaks started to hit the landscape.
I remember having dinner there one night with my Bride while on was on a business trip. The dinners were really the high point of my business trips and the funny thing is, I never expensed any of my dinners, because the principals of the firm would have blown a gasket over my charges, but it was always worth the price of admission as one would say. We started of sharing a plate of Oysters Rockefeller, because in a fine old steak house there would be plenty of food to eat. My Bride is always sensible and she had a Caesar Salad, while I was contributing to my cholesterol count by having Lobster Bisque with lobster and White Truffle Oil. She then went on to have Chilean Sea Bass (which is one of her favorite choices in fish) and her dish came with sides of greens and potatoes. I am always the indulgent one who racks up the dinner tab by ordering a full cut center Filet with Sauce Béarnaise. At that time my appetite was larger and my metabolism worked much quicker then now. I am also one of the few people that I know that prefer not to have a bone in my steak, though I have been lectured for years how there is more flavor when one has the bone in, but I am still happy to just enjoy a well aged filet. Of course in a good steak house, one must order a side ala carte, and I had sautéed spinach and mushrooms and passed on a potato. For dessert we had some wonderfully rich coffee and a homemade flourless chocolate cake, which also seems to be a staple offering in a fine steak house. After all, who am I to buck tradition?
Since I have been writing about wines, one of the areas that I tend to lean to is the Rhone Valley and usually a good Cote du Rhone makes me happy. Some purists would tend to chastise me for not having a Medoc or a Burgundy with this dinner, but with my Bride having a rich fish dinner, and knowing that she enjoys a red wine with a robust fish entrée I went a little softer on the red. Instead of just a Cote du Rhone, which would have made me happy I selected a Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert (the vintage alas has been forgotten, because Maison Paul Jaboulet Aine uses a neck ring to record the vintage year and it has been separated from the label over time). Crozes Hermitage is the largest of the Northern Rhone appellations and contains eleven communes. Domaine de Thalabert has belonged to the Jaboulet family since 1834 and is the oldest vineyard in the appellation with some of the oldest vines as well. Syrah is the varietal that works wonders in this valley and it is aged for at least a year in wood and then in the bottle for this wine. There are some Syrah wines that I have had over the years that somehow always don’t taste as good as they make them in the Rhone, or maybe I am just biased.