Stone Lotus (873 N. Orleans St.; 312-440-9680), a brand-new small plates lounge in River North brought to us by nightlife impresario Chris Dexter, takes the wine pairing concept to the perfectly logical next level: matching food to spirits. Thus, rum cocktails accompanied by a flight of noshes: plaintain chips, Caribbean-style spiced prawns with cilantro, jerk lamb chops, and, for dessert, tropical fruit profiteroles doused with rum caramel. “Tequila was a hard one, because I’m horrible at Latin,” says executive chef Dale Levitski, the 33-year-old alum of Blackbird, La Tache, and, most recently, Trio Atelier in Evanston. The bar also has a separate small plates menu, including a miniature version of this summery grilled beef salad.
Dale Levitski’s Grilled Sirloin and Chicory Salad
|Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa|
For the steak:
- 1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 15 whole black peppercorns
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 dried hot Thai chilies
- Zest of 1 lemon (reserve the lemon)
- 1 shallot, thickly sliced
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 ten-ounce New York strip steaks, lightly seasoned with kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper
For the salad:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, or use the seasoned oil from the marinade
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of reserved lemon
- 6 white anchovy fillets, minced (may substitute regular anchovies, but use half as many)
- 5 teaspoons each, red wine vinegar and sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 heads Belgian endive
- 1 head romaine
- 1 head radicchio
- 2 heirloom tomatoes (such as Green Zebra or Brandywine), cut into wedges
- 1/4 red onion, slivered
- 1 cup diced seedless watermelon, red or gold
- 1 small block Parmesan, Cabrales blue, or goat cheese
- Mix together the steak marinade ingredients and set aside in a dish large enough to fit steaks.
- On a hot grill, cook steaks to desired doneness-Levitski recommends rare-and place immediately in marinade. Let rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for an hour), turning occasionally.
- For the salad’s vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, anchovies, vinegars, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese (it will keep for a week, refrigerated).
- Cut the four heads of lettuce in half lengthwise, then brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill for one to two minutes on each side, letting a nice char develop. Let cool.
- Slice the steaks, cut lettuces into smaller pieces, and divide the salad components among the plates. Drizzle liberally with vinaigrette and top with shavings or crumblings of cheese.