While I’m perfectly content with a dinner for two at Buffalo Wild Wings or Joy Yee’s, there comes a time in every relationship when a date night of wings and casual Chinese will no longer cut it. While you may dream of being treated to Pete Miller’s by someone other than your parents, realistically most of us don’t have the class or the cash to rack up a bill at a place like that. The answer? A place that gives you a 5-star date night experience with more of a BWW price tag. Which, this past Saturday, I found to be the case at Kinzie Chophouse in Chicago.
Located right next to the Merchandise Mart “L” stop off the Brown Line, Kinzie Chophouse couldn’t be easier to get to. Even from the outside, it radiated coziness and intimacy, wedged in a corner between a number of other restaurants. The interior was no different: the hostess’s podium was so close to the front door I almost ran into someone putting in their name as we walked in. But this closeness ended up giving Kinzie’s the romantic, personal feel that’s so characteristic of either a really good or really expensive restaurant. (Hopefully it would be the former.)
Dark-finished floors and furniture and modern, glass chandeliers ooze a classy feel, but are coupled with scenic paintings of Italian vineyards and simple white walls that make the space a little more personable. What I was most impressed with, however, was the menu. Most steakhouses have menus that read something like this: steak (followed by a million options) and entrées (basically one chicken and one fish option, plus judgment for not liking steak). Kinzie’s menu featured expensive steaks, sure. But they also had a variety of reasonably priced entrées, including chicken, fish and pork, as well as pastas, entrée-sized salads and dishes that any non-steak eater would rejoice at.
My date got the meatloaf, which came out at $12.95. For something the price of a Joy Yee’s entrée at a nice restaurant like this, I was expecting the tiniest serving of meatloaf I had ever seen. But I was positively surprised: far from being a dainty portion, it was actually more like half the loaf of meat rather than just a slice. Served over buttery mashed potatoes, I couldn’t help but steal more than a few bites.
I got the lamb shank pappardelle, which at $20.95 was one of the more expensive non-steak entrées, but still definitely worth it. Served with a mint and rosemary sauce, the meat was tender and complemented by the crunch of vegetables like celery, carrots and onions.
Other relatively inexpensive entreés included the chicken pot pie ($12.95), wild mushroom and asparagus risotto ($11.95), and a jalapeño-barbecued pork tenderloin ($15.95). The menu also had a great selection of dinner-sized salads, including a Southwestern chicken salad for $13.95, and an assortment of reasonably priced pastas, like the portobello ravioli at just $14.95.
And with appetizers like fried calamari with spicy aioli and sesame-crusted chicken skewers, all mostly between the range of $5.95 and $10.95, it was hard not to be tempted into ordering more. Last but not least, the entire dessert list, from key lime pie to frozen banana-chocolate mousse, were all $5.95 each.
Despite all its merits, Kinzie’s did fall short in a few places in terms of being extremely college-date-night-friendly. Its steaks were still pretty expensive, and the prices on the wine list were no different. But if you still want to go to Kinzie’s on a budget and indulge in steak, I’d recommend sharing one and balancing out the meal with some appetizers or sides, two options that won’t necessarily break the bank.
You can still definitely do a fancy date-night at Kinzie’s for $50 or less. And though my boyfriend and I ended up with the calamari and key lime pie in addition to our meals (we’re extremely weak-willed), we still ended up with a tab of $55, not including tip. Not bad for a place with white tablecloths and jazz music. And even better considering we’ve definitely racked up that much at BWW before. Oops.
Location: 400 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs: 11am-10pm, Fri: 11am-11pm, Sat: 4pm-11pm, Sun: 4pm-9pm