River North restaurant is hot spot for big steaks, big stars

Chicago Cut boasts a bustling noontime business

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Chicago Cut Steakhouse

300 N. LaSalle St.

Who eats: The lunch crowd in this popular River North restaurant is predominantly businesspeople.

Why eat: A popular spot for celebrity sightings (such as John Cusack and Derek Jeter) since it opened last winter, the restaurant is a classic Chicago steakhouse, offering big portions of steak and seafood.

Ambience: With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Chicago River and Loop skyscrapers, the view is spectacular. Dark wood floors and paneling accent the warmly lit dining room, replete with white tablecloths and plush red chairs. The overall effect is rich and comforting. On dry, warm days, there is outdoor seating along the river.

Dress code: Almost everyone dining during a recent lunch was wearing business suits or business casual.

Noise factor: Because the restaurant is packed at lunch, the din can become loud, drowning out the faint background music. If you have a hearing aid, you might need to turn it up to hear a colleague across the table.

Overheard: "We want you to come work for us because we have so much business that we really need help."

Service: Attentive without being intrusive. When our server saw my lunch companion was wearing a black dress, he offered to swap her white cloth napkin for a black one. He knew the menu and its components but was in no way pushy.

Cellphone reception/Wi-Fi: Full cell reception and Wi-Fi in the dining area.

Reservations: Accepted over the phone or at opentable.com (and recommended at lunch).

Menu: Steakhouse traditional: steaks, seafood and an expansive list of salads.

Reliable options: The 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye ($48) was perfectly cooked and succulent, but it's massive. More manageable (but perhaps less manly) is the 8-ounce filet mignon ($36). The Scottish salmon ($24) was also large, covered with Mediterranean-style sun-dried tomato and caper relish and orange-honey glaze. The hamburger sliders ($10) were juicy and delicious; three to a plate. The jumbo lump crab and avocado ($19) was listed as an appetizer, but there was enough crab meat to pass as a main course for those with smaller appetites. Vegetables are sold separately, also in huge portions. The seasoned fresh-shucked corn ($9) was perfectly spicy. One quibble: The $3 soft drinks arrive in tiny 8-ounce bottles with no free refills.

Expect to pay: $80-$100 for two if you order main courses, less if you order a $12 hamburger or $11 spinach salad.

Contacts: 312-329-1800 or chicagocutsteakhouse.com
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