The James Chicago Hotel Review: Extraordinary Steak and More

Guest Editor:
- Carrie Harrison-Ell, Senior Vice President of Hotel Programs for Kiwi Collection and mother of three; she is an expert on family travel. Carrie’s not-so-secret pleasures include: romantic trips to Siena, wine and cheese pairings and everything about the Mayan Riviera.

We sent our Senior VP of Global Strategy and Brands to check out some of the luxury hotels in Chicago. Read her review of the James Chicago Hotel, where Carrie says the food and service are the hotel’s best assets!

This won’t surprise you – but I enjoyed one of the finest steaks I’ve had while visiting Chicago recently. The surprise (for me, anyway) was that I did not find it at one of the many ‘old boys’ club’ steak houses scattered throughout The Windy City. Rather I was dining at the exquisitely stylish and contemporary James Chicago Hotel. And get this – their chef is from New York!

David Burke’s PRIMEHOUSE serves up an absolutely mouth-watering 40 Day Aged Ribeye.

Burke’s secret? Well we don’t know exactly what it is, but we do know that they dry-age their beef on premises and – get this – they own the bull. I’m not kidding. “Prime” has a proven ability to breed offspring that achieve highly quality, perfectly marbled USDA quality grade beef.

Knowing the talented General Manager of The James Chicago, Patrick Hatton, I’m privy to inside information about the extensive training made available to the restaurant and hotel staff. If I weren’t in the know, I’d have deduced this on my own after dining at PRIMEHOUSE.

the-james-chicago_4778_09Brian, my waiter, was beyond knowledgeable about the menu. I’ve never had anyone teach me so much about steak! Brian wasn’t an anomaly. I was enthralled with the stories I heard from various waiters as they showed off their overwhelming comprehension of beef, and the menu, to a jam-packed restaurant of eager diners.

Beyond the beef, David Burke has created additional masterpieces. The Caesar Salad is fresh and alive with flavour – but not overpowered by garlic (my pet peeve). The table side preparation is an extra nice touch – and is done well.

For dessert, I highly recommend the Warm Chocolate Beignet. Some refer to a beignet as a French donut – only this masterpiece had a ‘center’ that comes overflowing with liquid chocolate. This work of art is topped with banana confit, caramelized pecans, and bourbon ice cream. What a perfect finale to delectable dining experience.

The James Hotel in itself is a must-see (and stay), by the way. Think modern design and attention to detail blended with comfort and state-of-the-art technology. And don’t forget the service! The extensive staff training I mentioned? It’s ongoing, despite a downturn in the economy, and it is one of the many things that set this property above the rest.

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