Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Weber Grill Restaurant
Chicago, IL
312 467-9696

Review by SuSu, MaceVindaloo

We'd heard about this place -- their kitchen is on the main floor of the restaurant where everyone can see. And why not, since they use the grills from their namesake to create grilled food supreme? Obviously, there must also be fryers, ovens, etc. also, but in general, they told us that the stovetop cooking is done on the grills, too.

Yes, those are outdoor barbecue grills they are cooking on! The round classic Weber kettle grill is the motif of this place, and though they cook on more "industrial" models, they use the smaller home models throughout the restaurant and on their storefront for decor. They even make a "fence/divider" out of a large grill grate. Hey, it's cute!

We were on our way to Ed Debevic's, that pseudo Americana 1950s styled burger joint, but were stuck in traffic on State St... and saw the kettle hanging out, the valet parking stand just below (3 hours, $9 ... you call that a real parking fee?). So we opted for grilled food; how could you not stop at a place that elevates (literally) the backyard grill?

There was a 45 minute wait for a table indoors in the steak-house, booth-lined, multi-room space; about half that much time for an outdoor table in the porch-like, griddle grate-enclosed space running alongside the restaurant. It was a nice day, not too hot, so we opted for outside, but we did take a tour through the grilling station(s) while we waited. We're not much on bars anyway, though we'd heard the bar here -- called Smokey Joe's, which features a blue cheese olive martini, very steaky -- is excellent. We were too intrigued with the grilling! And with the pass! And with the kettle grill cover light fixtures!

The menu is pretty simple ... ribby things, steaky things, salady things, fried things and some heavy, stodgy desserts. Chicago was THE place to get protein in the form of dead cows, so you'd guess the meat would be good here. The only thing terribly innovative is the grilling stations actually, but the food is made well, and it tastes good. For starters, we got the "Weber Sampler for Two" which included things like ribs, beer can chicken wings, skewered beef tips, grilled shrimp with BBQ sauce and 'onion curls' -- onions thinly sliced with a mandolin, battered/crumbed and deep fat fried. We figured we were in town only a short time, may as well get the cross section! We also got the "Wedge of Romaine" salad, topped with a bleu cheese-based, grilled bacon, tomato and parmesan cheese. It's a nice variation on the classic Iceberg wedge salad, and it was a very manly salad.

We ordered two kinds of rib steak: one hickory roasted prime rib, and the bone-in seared rib-eye. The prime rib was incredible ... the rib-eye was good too, but the prime rib was better. For "later," we also ordered a BBQ Combo Platter, which included "Midwest pulled pork," ribs, smoked sausage and BBQ chicken. We got steamed broccoli and grilled green beans to accompany. It was all worth consuming and/or toting home! And we were so full, we didn't bother with dessert. Actually, we had looked at the dessert tray when other tables asked for dessert and everything looked heavy, stodgy and not that appealing. Stuff like apple pie, cheesecake, chocolate fudge cake, strawberry shortcake, some sort of nut pie ... they might be okay if that's the only thing you're eating or if you were really hungry. But they didn't look good enough to save room for, so we didn't.

The service was mediocre overall. We've noticed that Chicago sometimes falls behind in service in fine dining establishments compared to restaurants on the coasts, but then again, we've had great service in Midwestern eateries, too. So there isn't any excuse for the slow service. They simply seemed understaffed, curious considering how packed they were. Once the server found some time for us, she was good and steady though, as well as knowledgeable.

One of the bathrooms is a riot! The restaurant is high-end, meaning you got a little room to yourself, rather than the conventional stalls. In the men's room, instead of the piped music that the women's room and restaurant in general was getting, there were sounds of backyard weekend warriors! Buzzing lawnmowers, "dad" hollering "Dogs are up! Come 'n get it!" ... that's sexism! I want cookout lawn noises in the girly 'loo, too!

So now we have another reason to go to Chicago. Oh, and the hot milk rolls were good, too, and looked nice, but don't bother with the green "salsa." It's not hot, and not tasty. Butter is fine, though!


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