A Well-Done Steakhouse - RB Grille

Friday, April 9, 2010

RB Grille, the new adjoining eatery to Rock Bottom Brewery, is a Chicago novelty - a reasonably priced downtown steakhouse where the quality of food isn’t completely dependent on the price. And while the wine list is on par with similar restaurants, it’s the craft beers (courtesy of their next door neighbor) that elevate the experience. Forget wine pairings – the beer flights are the better choice and an area where RB Grille really shines. The servers wax poetic about stouts, ales and lagers and you get to taste-test three generous pours of their finest brews.

The ample serving size is a recurring theme and it works beautifully. Every dish I sampled was about one and half times larger than expected…which is great if you have a hearty appetite and a limited budget. I can’t imagine how anyone could leave RB Grille still hungry. The jumbo crab cake earns its name with two sizable cakes filled with lump crab and little else. They’re meaty, flavorful and well-paired with a charred sweet onion and roasted corn & tomato relish. While it’s technically an appetizer, you could easily mistake it for a small entrée. The bacon wrapped scallops are another delicious starter, served with a spicy aioli and Thai chili sauce.

I was initially impressed by the size of the buttery Atlantic salmon, but it looked paltry in comparison to the massive Delmonico 10-ounce steak. This thick, juicy bone-in cut took up an entire plate, but I had no complaints. It was exactly what a steak should be and arrived with the singular best baked potato I’ve ever eaten. The only competition to my new favorite spud was the miniature peanut butter cream pie in a chocolate crust filled with ultra creamy peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache and crushed peanut butter cups. It’s the perfect size for a small indulgence, but rich enough to satisfy a strong sweet tooth. Even better – it’s only a $2.50 a dessert.

The restaurant itself looks like an upscale extension of the brewery. Brick walls, black leather booths, dark accents and low lighting make the room both comfortable and slightly nondescript. It’s a welcoming, warm environment that matches the menu – accessible, familiar and appealing to a mainstream crowd.

While RB Grille’s prime location at the intersection of State and Grand will make it a perfect draw for downtown shoppers and weekend tourists, it’s also an appealing dining destination for Chicagoans. We’re a city that savors a hearty steak and celebrates quality beer. And in a tougher economic climate, it’s a rarity to enjoy both on a tighter budget. RB Grille finds a much-needed middle ground and caters to both our appetites and wallets.