I hobbled into Benny’s Chophouse in my too-high high heels, with growing anticipation. I had done my research, looking up the menu a week earlier so I could daydream about the perfectly prepared filet mignon that I would soon devour.
I had gone to Benny’s Chophouse before, about six years ago. However, over these past few years, I have developed a taste for fine dining, and came prepared.
The restaurant was dark, with dim lighting that highlighted the plush leather seats. There was marble everywhere; the floor, the walls and the tabletop of the huge bar that was situated near the front half of the restaurant. Our table was behind the bar, separated by a wall.
As we sat down, multiple people came to greet our party with ice water, fresh bread and menus. I eagerly scanned the menu, locating the exact meal I had picked out a week prior.
Our server described one of the specials of the night, a veal chop stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella, topped with foie gras and wild mushrooms, drizzled with a sherry sauce, all on a bed of mashed potatoes, all for the low, low price of $69.99! My mouth was watering by the time she was done, and I decided to stray from my plan and treat myself.
We started off with drinks, and I was promptly presented with a mocktail from the bar, a virgin mojito, consisting of sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint. It was very refreshing, albeit a little too tart for my taste.
We sipped our drinks for a few minutes, and then moved onto appetizers. We ordered the calamari, prawns, macaroni and cheese (my sister’s request) and the beet salad. Our party consisted of six people, and by the time the appetizers arrived at our table, we realized we had bit off more than we could chew, literally.
All the appetizers were fabulous, except the beet salad. But to be fair, I think beets taste like dirt, so that might have had something to do with it. The prawns were super fresh, and the macaroni was perfectly creamy. My favorite was the calamari, which was fried and not too crispy or overly fishy.
I returned to the table, and after what felt like forever, our meals arrived. I was blown away with what I ordered. It looked even more extravagant than it sounded. I quickly cut into it, and the thick mozzarella cheese oozed out.
I cut myself a piece of the veal, mozzarella and mashed potato. As I chewed on the bite, I closed my eyes. It was a sensory overload. There were so many intense flavors, and I wanted to experience every single one.
The meat was perfectly tender, and there was an overwhelming buttery taste. The mashed potatoes felt like velvet, they were perfectly buttery and fluffy. It was sweet and salty, the flavors somehow simultaneously contradicting and complimenting each other. The bite was creamy and crunchy, and the meat melted in my mouth.
I’m not even being dramatic when I say that it wasn’t just a meal, it was an experience. But for $69.99, it should be.
After a few bites, I began to feel relaxed and happy, the food settling into a heavy warmth in my stomach. A few minutes later, I slumped into my seat, completely satisfied.
I hadn’t even eaten half of my meal. Luckily, they wrapped it up for me, placing it into a thick plastic container and a fancy reusable bag that was embossed with the Benny’s logo in gold lettering. Even the leftovers were fancy!
Just when I was wondering if I could even get up after the meal was over, our waitress appeared at our table with a comically large silver platter. My interest was piqued. Unfortunately, it was full of hot towels, which was a little bit of a let down since I was expecting the head of an unicorn. Or something.
After we cleaned ourselves off, we ordered dessert. We decided on the crème brûlée and the sorbet, made in house, of course.
The dishes we ordered were quickly brought out, along with chocolate pudding cake with toffee crumble ice cream, and a plate of cookies, still warm and melty. The kitchen made mistake with one of our meals, and the chef came out to apologize, and offer us our deserts, on the house.
The chef was warm and sincere. He continued to converse warmly with us for a little bit until he had to return to the kitchen. I was surprised that the chef seemed so normal. I know that sounds crazy, but I was honestly expecting some sort of wizard who had a passion for culinary arts.
The deserts were all amazing. I couldn’t pick a favorite. The crème brûlée had a nuanced orange flavor, and the pudding cake was perfectly moist and well complemented with the crunch on the ice cream. The sorbet was colorful and packed a punch.
After what seemed like hours, we reluctantly clawed our way out of the leather seats and left, happy, full and well fed.
Overall, I had an amazing experience. It might have been a contender for the title of The Best Meal I’ve Ever Had. Benny’s is a perfect example of the opulence and extravagance that only a certain class of people can afford to experience. The service was wonderful, the food was unreal, but I think I would’ve been just as happy having dinner with a few friends at a cute café.
Benny’s is located at 444 N. Wabash Ave, and is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. If you’re curious, their menu is on their website. A meal for four with a bottle of wine and a generous tip will cost around $400.
I’m very fortunate that I got to go to Benny’s, but ultimately, the thing that makes a meal is who you choose to spend it with. As long as you’re in good company, you can’t go wrong.