Coconut Grove has long been a magnet for drifters. It's easy to stop by for a beer and fall in love with the colorful, quirky neighborhood. But for a Chicago-themed eatery that plopped down in the ungainly spot that once housed Don Quixote, it has been a tough transition. Since the place opened three months ago, innovations have included a new management team (our lithe hostess made sure to tell us how bad the old one was.) and menu, but I'm not sure the latter was for the better. I’m told you can buy classic Chicago dogs at the next-door bakery, but it was closed both evenings I stopped in. The vast menu detours to the Caribbean and beyond with such odd offerings as mango crab cakes, Jamaican-grilled chicken wings, battered and fried pepper jack cheese and a range of pastas. There’s even a black bean veggie burger and a coconut cream-sauced vegetable stew over Spanish rice. This is one transplant in the throes of an identity crisis.
Ambiance: With a facade weighted with curly-cued wrought iron and faux marble, Chicago’s Steakhouse looks more like a Moorish castle than a Windy City meat emporium. Inside, the red crushed velvet booths, black Formica tabletops and towering ceilings create an eery, haunted-house look. Murals of shiny Chicago skyscrapers do little to lighten the dank feel.
What Didn’t Work
The exterior of Chicago's Steakhouse and Tavern in Coconut Grove.