The steakhouse is a long-standing trope of the restaurant scene. Just close your eyes and picture one: dark wood paneling, low lighting, buttoned-up servers, and men in suits drinking scotch with their massive cuts of meat. That image of the ‘old boys’ club’ is one that has been intertwined with the traditional American steakhouse for decades.
Step into Stetsons Modern Steak & Sushi, however, and you’ll find your expectations deliciously shattered. Situated in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the restaurant decided to upend the typical steakhouse persona and offer a more varied experience. Windows and an open kitchen make the dining room brighter and more inviting. A modern fireplace separates the bar from the seated area, lending some of that steakhouse atmosphere without being cliché.
The service is attentive and professional without the stuffiness of the traditional steakhouse. The servers are knowledgeable, and general manager Pete Karczewski runs the floor with a deft hand. Technology makes the efforts of sommelier Amy Witz directly accessible: the wine and cocktail lists are displayed on an iPad. If the diner finds a bottle they take a particular liking to, the selection can be sent by e-mail for easy reference later.
Chef de Cuisine Kostas Chaidaropoulos oversees the kitchen, bringing a global touch to many of the dishes on the menu. Appetizers get flavor from European, Latin, and American influences. A glass globe is filled with a fresh and fragrant watermelon salad, infused with basil and ginger. Airy beignets stuffed with blue cheese are perfectly paired with a sweet apricot jam. Chef Kostas’ Mediterranean heritage shows in a bruschetta topped with black mission figs, prosciutto, and burrata mozzarella.
One steakhouse trademark that is not discarded is a keen attention to quality. Stetsons sources its meat from Chicago250, supporting local farmers who are raising grass-fed, hormone-free beef within 250 miles of Chicago. A wide choice of cuts is available, from skirt steak to porterhouse. Though tastefully seasoned on its own, the steak is enhanced by a selection of sauces. Particularly decadent is the applewood smoked bacon bourbon sauce, made in house.
While steak is still a central part of the restaurant’s focus, it only skims the surface. Other great meat dishes are available, including a broiled half chicken and a tender pork chop paired with clams in a flavorful broth. In a twist that really makes Stetsons stand out from the steakhouse crowd, sushi is a prominent feature. The sushi bar stands adjacent to the kitchen and is just as busy, lending a cool contrast to the hot dishes. Platters of fresh, colorful sashimi are artfully arranged, and rolls range from the standard California to a fun and spicy Fiery Hamachi.
With so many surprising options, Stetsons certainly offers a refreshing experience. The quality is unmistakable, and it is obvious that this “steakhouse” has taken all details into consideration.