6/13/2013 05:30:00 PM

The Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Grilled Octopus at Stetson's

When the Hyatt Regency was looking to bring its aging steakhouse (age in terms of the menu and decor, not meat), Stetson’s Chop House, into the 21st century, they pulled a somewhat gimmicky move, transforming it into Stetson’s Modern Steak and Sushi.

The good news: the new incarnation does both steak and sushi well. We began our meal with sushi - the chef’s combination includes a California roll, five-piece nigiri and seven-piece sashimi. The thickly sliced yellowtail, big-eye tuna and red snapper were fresh and brightly colored. Diners can opt for an entire sushi-focused menu by dining at the sushi bar.

However, since this is a steakhouse, we wanted meat. All of the beef is sourced from Chicago250, a company that provides meat from ranches within 250 miles of Chicago. It was flavorful and tender, and our favorite, the cap steak, was served with a roasted tomato sauce with chilies, garlic and fresh coriander.

The problem is the experience of eating hot red meat is so disjointed from that of delicate fish - the gimmick was lost on us. However, there's at least one seafood dish on the menu that straddles the two worlds quite nicely: the grilled octopus (the chef, a native of Greece, has snuck a few of his homeland's specialties onto the menu).

Huge tentacles are charred and covered with parsley and lemon zest vinaigrette, and served alongside an arrangement of thinly sliced green apples. We enjoyed taking segments of the octopus and wrapping them inside the fruit. The experience is almost sushi-like, but also works as an prelude to the heartier meats that follow. Overall, go to Stetson’s for the steak or the sushi, but not both. Either way, don’t skimp on the octopus.

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