I was recently notified about one of Chicago's great restaurants, Keefer's, enjoying their 10th Anniversary. Named for brothers/partners Glen & Rich Keefer, the restaurant is located on the bottom floor of the Amalfi Hotel and is one of the great steakhouses of River North. To celebrate the anniversary, they'll be offering free valet, Sunday three-course prixe fix supper for $25, and $10 weekday lunch specials.
I was also invited to come and try out the menu & wine list, which turned out to be an overall good experience. I had been to Keefer's in the past, but had only been in the bar area. This time I went in the dining room, which had cozy seating, but seemed airy and almost too open- I think it had to do with the extremely high ceilings. Our server came promptly and we started off with Dampierre Grand Cuvee Brut NV Champagne, a great wine to begin your meal with and an excellent choice to have by the glass on any wine list, especially for $14. We started off with a couple of appetizer recommendations from our excellent server which went very well with the Champagne: grilled calamari & Nantucket Bay scallops. The great thing about the calamari was that they were cooked perfectly and still had a fresh sea taste to them, along with the char. The scallops are a seasonal item, and were small, sweet and rich- look for them at the beginning of November through to year's end.
I really enjoyed perusing the Wine List- they have many interesting picks though they could be a bit more worldly, especially with Chardonnay (14 out of 15 selections from California). There is some redundancy with styles & prices for varietals as well, but overall I liked the selections for a steakhouse. I spotted what I wanted right away- the 2005 Woodward Canyon Estate Red Reserve. A great wine at without a high markup. I didn't even have to ask for a decanter before the server was on it. One more small problem is we found out Keefer's does not have temperature controlled storage for it's wines, which is disappointing for two reasons: red wines should be served around 65 degrees plus most of the selections should be stored properly.
For dinner I chose the lamb chops which were crusted in dijon, herbs and garlic, which added great flavor to a perfectly cooked medium rare. There was a sauce served underneath the chops which I did not recognize and didn't add much to the dish. With meat dishes you should order sides, which are large enough for two. I ordered the mushrooms (shitake & cremini) and Hogan's peas, which were fresh, sweet and creamy, though I would've preferred the bacon to be cooked fresh with a bit of soft fat- it came hard and overcooked. Overall, delicious, especially with the wine.
Dessert was an easy pick- apple tart a la mode & warm chocolate cake. If the other desserts are as good as these then you can't go wrong! They contrasted eachother with vanilla & cinnamon apple fruit flavor against dark full-on chocolate. Plus they make a perfect espresso.
Overall: impeccable service, high quality menu from Executive Chef John Hogan, a wine list with good picks and affordable prices, and dessert which'll make you want to go do it all again. I would!