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When 'Meat Week' Ends, Chicago Restaurant Week Begins at Grass Fed

By Alisa Hauser | January 31, 2013 8:37am | Updated on January 31, 2013 10:31am

BUCKTOWN — When Chicago Restaurant Week kicks off Saturday, it will overlap slightly with the much lesser known Meat Week, which started Jan. 27 and ends Sunday.

Bucktown steakhouse Grass Fed, 1721 N. Damen, is the only restaurant participating in both events, said owner Scott Kay, who acknowledged Wednesday that two special menus will compete against each other, but just for Saturday. (Grass Fed does not serve dinner on Sunday).

Though Grass Fed usually offers $25 8-ounce sirloin steak dinners, in honor of Meat Week, the Damen Avenue restaurant brought a New York strip steak to its menu, which is 12 ounces and costs $35.

For Chicago Restaurant Week, Grass Fed is promoting a $33 three-course dinner consisting of a sirloin steak, chicken or mussel entree.

While Chicago Restaurant Week has attracted plenty of attention with more than 240 restaurants participating — and online reservations at Grass Fed are now closed for Saturday — Meat Week is so under the radar that even Kay was unaware of its details, save for the fact he knew there was a week happening at the end of January that was all about meat.

Of the 26 participating cities listed on Meat Week's website, Chicago isn't one of them. And even if it were, Grass Fed would be unable to participate because it's a steakhouse and Meat Week is strictly for Southern barbecue, according to its FAQ page.

"We've been a meat-focused restaurant for the last year and a half, so when I was reading about [Meat Week] on Twitter, I thought, 'Let's join that.' We are using it as an angle to say, 'Hey, we're a meat restaurant, let's appreciate meat.' "

Grass Fed's unofficial celebration of Meat Week means ... more meat.

Describing the strip steak as a good middle ground between a rib-eye and a sirloin, Kay said, "It's nicely marbled, thicker, a bigger heartier steak-eater dish. [Strip steak] is more of what people are used to, the corn-based steak eaters." 

Whether or not the New York strip will stay on the menu after Saturday at Grass Fed is yet to be decided, with only one-third of its diners opting for the strip steak during its trial week so far, according to Kay. 

"The jury is still out. I had it myself the other night, it's a great cut, but we're waiting to get more feedback from guests," Kay said. "Since the sirloin is $25 and the strip steak is $35, it's tough for people to get past that $25 price point they're used to here."

Unrelated to Meat Week, Grass Fed changed up its cocktail menu this week, too, and "added more seasonal wintry ingredients" like cranberries, which are used in a new craft cocktail called Beso Rojo, which consists of basil-infused vodka, house-made cranberry simple syrup, lime juice and Prosecco.

Under a theory that rum and Coke resonates more in winter months, Grass Fed's new house bottled cocktail Cuba Libre combines cardamom-infused rum with house made cola and soda water.

"We thought it would be fun to make our own cola," Kay said.

Grass Fed's phone number is 773-342-6000.  Consult the restaurant's website for brunch, coffee bar, weekend brunch and dinner hours.