Sunday, March 9, 2008

Select Cut Steakhouse

Select Cut Steakhouse
2808 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL
(773) 244-1500

Oh, the things we do for burgers. Select Cut was one of those "Christ I'm hungry, I really hope this burger doesn't suck" places, and you know what? It didn't. But that's not really the point. Once you've eaten burgers at a rate of about one per every ten days over the past year, you start paying attention to detail, and the smallest things can upset the structure of the burger experience

In terms of ambiance, the place has nothing going for it, appearing to be in the midst of an identity crisis (I should mention that we--and everyone else--were seated in the front room, as the nicer looking dining room was seemingly being saved for something; who knows). I found the owner's children's paintings on the walls rather endearing, and if the place was selling itself as some sort of tradition-rich family establishment, it could have worked. But that wasn't the vibe they were going for. The place also could have attempted an air of "screw Gibson's and avoid the blue-haired guys scouring for impressionable women set, come to Select Cut to avoid all the chazarai, and just eat a good steak." But ah, the steak didn't look like it was holding its weight. Or, they could have gone with a simple old school "we are meat and potatoes" message, which I thought it was trying to do, but the intrusive dual TV screens at the bar and the blaring--I mean BLARING--contemporary rock ("Is this Train?" "Is this the Goo Goo Dolls?") really destroyed any attempts at "cool." Just lie to me, Select Cut. Pop in some Ultra Lounge compilation at least and you could improve the atmosphere greatly.

As far as food, Nat started out with a French Onion soup that appeared to do the job. I had an onion and tomato salad that was at best middling--Rosebud really sets the standards for delivering quality tomatos in the dead of winter, and Select Cut's were nowhere near that class. Kind of limp and watery. In terms of the burger, much is made (in reviews, mostly) about how the garnish is served on the side. ???? Is this a Thing? I feel like Select Cut isn't the only place to do it, and even if they are, how is this worth mentioning?

My burger was good. They also really play up the fact that this is a burger made from steak, but I wasn't overwhelmed by that particular flavor nor did I feel like I wax experiencing some out-of-burger experience. I finished it in about 250 seconds. I found the fries crisp and enjoyable, and to give respect where respect is due, they served me one of the best Martinis I've ever had in Chicago.

[Mine--not so bad]

Our night, however, was completely spoiled, however, by the presentation of Nat's burger. Whereas I ordered mine to be cooked medium, he ordered his medium rare, which materialized as a greasy blood bath of bun-soaking meat. There's really no comment to be made, you can see how this kind of killed our collective appetite.

Walking away from this experience, Nat proclaimed, "I am annoyed that a place can call itself a 'steak house' and apparently command $40 for a piece of beef and a la carte prices for sides." One other gripe include that the service was incredibly rushed--we received our burgers just minutes after getting into our appetizers. We can cut the server some slack though as she was friendly and seemed to be the only one working. Oh, also, this place is pimping Phil Vettel's name everywhere, on their website and even on their sign out front. Given Select Cut's proximity to Erwin, I am deeming this little sect of town Burger Bermuda Triangle, or Right Angle. Or something.


Zach said...

Hmmm. I have always liked the Select Cut Burger. Even as medium rare. It's also possible to get the same food *slightly* cheaper at Harrigan's on halsted and the other Irish-ish place on Diversey at Halsted. They share an alley and Select Cut's kitchen does all the cooking.

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