“We don’t want to change the steak house. We want to elevate it,” says Chris Pandel, the chef of the upcoming Armour & Swift (1000 W. Fulton Market, no phone yet), named for two of Chicago’s great meatpackers. The second collaboration—Balena was first—between B. Hospitality (The Bristol, Formento’s) and the Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro), Armour & Swift takes on the challenge of bringing a modern sensibility to perhaps the hoariest of restaurant genres.
It starts with beef. Pandel says they will serve “boutique beef,” from small ranches in Illinois and adjacent states. They will buy a side of beef from one ranch, craft five or six courses from it, and then move on to the next ranch. Steak-house staples such as a 36-ounce porterhouse, a 24-ounce bone-in rib eye, and a 14-ounce bone-in filet also feature.
Appetizers will couple traditional steak-house items such as shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque with nontraditionals sprung from the same seeds. Pandel mentions a light crab salad sandwiched between crunchy, rösti-like potatoes. “It’s a dish that’s a little more elegant than you would normally see at a steak house,” he says. He also mentions English pea pierogi with pea consommé, corn agnolotti with espelette pepper and black truffle, and butcher’s salad: a cold roast beef salad with sauce gribiche, mustard greens, and shaved beef tendon. Sides skew seasonal, but creamed spinach and baked potatoes check important steak-house boxes. Pandel recommends the pommes aligot. “You put cheese on mashed potato, and you’ve got a happy kid here,” he says.
The excellent pastry chef Meg Galus (Boka, Momotaro) will make the desserts. “She is one of the greatest technicians in the city of Chicago,” Pandel says.
The elevated steak house is scheduled to open in September. With the track record of these two restaurant groups, the place should be red meat to foodies.