Sunday Dinner: RPM Steak
Have your steak and eat it too at RPM Italian spinoff RPM Steak.
In a city full of fabulous steakhouses, executive chef Doug Psaltis is convinced that his latest project, RPM Steak — sister restaurant to local hotspot RPM Italian (52 W. Illinois) — will offer a fresh perspective. “Our biggest surprise at RPM Italian was that people really loved the steaks,” he says. “So we started playing around with new steaks, had some fun with it. We thought we’d create a steakhouse like the city hadn’t seen before, with not only a focus on incredible meat, but also on vegetables, mushrooms and fish.”
Along with partners Jerrod, Molly and RJ Melman of Lettuce Entertain You and celeb husband-and-wife duo Bill and Giuliana Rancic, the team designed a space that RJ describes as “see-and-be-seen.” The restaurant exudes old-world elegance with a VIP vibe — think deep brown wood paneling, rich leathers and a complete lack of windows. Of the 350 seats, 100 are located on a balcony overlooking the main dining room. The expansive marble-topped main bar provides another perch for people-watching — especially while sipping on one of the 350 wines sourced from around the globe by Richard Hanauer (L20) or a classic cocktail or scotch from Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash).
Here’s what else you can expect at the highly anticipated RPM Steak:
Meat cute: While most steakhouses in the city pride themselves on a close relationship with a single butcher, the team here takes a different approach. “[We] sourced the best we could for the particular cut we were looking at, whether that was Wagyu from Japan, dry-aged meats from butchers in New York or lamb from North Dakota,” says Psaltis. The chef prepares his 15 types of steaks in three different ways, using either a charcoal grill from Spain, a wood grill or a high-speed broiler. Price points run the gamut from “kind cuts” like the in-house butchered short rib steak ($33) to the massive 42-ounce Wagyu Tomahawk, culled from Strube Ranch in East Texas ($155).
Must-try dishes: Meats aside, all of RPM Steak’s owners recommend a visit to the raw bar. Psaltis favors the charred ōtoro tuna, a fatty blue fin tuna belly charred and served with a light mustard dressing ($17). Bill loves the colossal tiger prawns ($15 each), which he claims are “as big as your hand.” And don’t miss unconventional dishes like the whole-grilled dorade from Greece, served with a warm tomato vinaigrette ($52), or the entire menu section focused on mushrooms (options range from Hen of the Woods, $11, to golden chanterelles, $17).
Personal best: The team’s handprints are all over RPM Steak. Giuliana consulted on everything from the server uniforms to leathers to shades of paint, employing her signature sense of style. “And, of course, we had to have purse hooks at the bar — no one should throw their gorgeous purses on the floor,” she says, laughing. Bill made sure the booths were equipped with outlets for diners pulling double-duty — something he does often at local restaurants — and stocked the space with chargers, available upon request.