Not only are the holidays a reason to celebrate, but also the return of cheering NBA basketball fans.
The Chicago Bulls are among the players heralding the end of the NBA Lockout and last weekend's official (and very late) start of the game season.
In Chicago, legendary Chicago Bull Michael Jordan is also celebrating his continued off-the-court retirement success with the opening of his latest restaurant venture.
Earlier this year, Jordan, along with the owner of the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, partnered with Chicago-based Cornerstone Restaurant Group to open a new Michael Jordan's Steak House inside the historic property at 505 N. Michigan Ave.
It was open by the end of August, with the official "grand opening" Sept. 23 with Jordan and a number of luminaries attending, including his former Bulls teammate, Scottie Pippen, and Pippen's wife Larsa, who is a "Real Housewives of Miami" cast member on the Bravo cable series.
The new restaurant occupies the second floor dining room and first floor lobby bar space at the hotel, replacing both Zest restaurant and what was previously called The Lobby Bar.
"I'm excited about bringing a Michael Jordan's Steak House to Chicago, especially to the world famous Magnificent Mile," Jordan said, when promoting his opening.
"I'm already looking forward to dining here."
The restaurant is 6,300 square feet with seating in the dining room for 160, seating in the bar for 91, and two private dining spaces that will seat 18 people each.
In this new arrangement, Cornerstone becomes the sole license consultant for the restaurant, which will be operated by the InterContinental.
The new restaurant at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is the third location for Michael Jordan's Steak House, with others at Grand Central Terminal in New York City and the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut.
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Executive chef James O'Donnell created an expansive lunch, dinner and bar selection menu just for Jordan, including "stand-on-their-own" stick-to-your-ribs sides and starters.
Besides Jordan's personal favorite recipes served up, guests also enjoy dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood, along with signature, local, and seasonal dishes on the contemporary menu designed to please palates of all types.
So far, ranking as MVP with palates are the appetizers, large enough to share, especially Jordan's high-in-demand Garlic Bread, with a creamy Wisconsin Ader Käse Reserve blue cheese fondue.
The Colossal Crab Cake, with Meyer lemon aioli and micro celery greens; and Tomato & Sweet Onion Salad, topped with watercress and drizzled with Chervil vinaigrette, are also popular.
Steak lovers will choose from a selection of the finest USDA Prime, dry-aged cuts, like the 23 oz. Bone-In Prime Rib-Eye Steak and the Sirloin Tasting, featuring three varieties of New York strip steak: 28-day dry-aged sirloin, Snake River Farms American Wagyu sirloin and Chicago newsman Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef grass-fed sirloin.
Scrumptious sides include Corn off the Cob with smoked chile butter, cotija cheese and cilantro; Creamed Spinach with parsnip velouté and parmesan crust; and Shrimp & Grits with smoked bacon, sweet onions and lobster broth. The Lobster Mixed Mashed Potatoes have also been a hit.
While he said he finds inspiration in the classic steak house menu, Chef O'Donnell, a 20-year industry veteran, said he likes to add "a playful twist" with his own personal touches.
"My goal is to honor the steak house tradition while adding fun flourishes, sides and sauces that guests will not expect," O'Donnell said.
FYI: (312) 321.8823 or michaeljordansteakhouse.com