Well Done: The Best Steakhouse Sides You Need to Try

National Steakhouse Month isn’t just about the meats (and the subsequent meat sweats). Juicy cuts may get all the glory, but steakhouses from coast to coast have been beefing up their menus with a variety of stellar sides that may have you re-evaluating ordering the same old porterhouse. From poutine tater tots to lobster mac ‘n’ cheese with a bacon crust, here are some of the best steakhouse sides that eat like a meal and others sure to complement your Father’s Day dinner perfectly — or just make a great bar snack.

David Burke Kitchen-The Garden, New York, New York
From housemade ricotta with pickled strawberries and crostini to foie gras and duck pate with fried dates, black pepper, port jelly and grilled bread, David Burke’s sides and “Table Shares” are just as inventive as the space — a horticulturist’s haven with an outdoor bar and garden seating for 130 in the heart of the city. But there is no side more universally appealing than the candied bacon — thick-cut slabs sliced in-house and slowly baked with constant basting. The result is a layering of spicy, smoky, and sweet flavors and a melt-in-your-mouth texture, served just as whimsically as the surroundings: hanging on a clothesline with a rosemary branch below so herbal aromas enhance the dish. Make a reservation at David Burke Kitchen-The Garden.

The best steakhouse sides

Roka Akor, Scottsdale, Arizona
It’s all about seasonality and spice at Roka Akor, where chef Ce Bian is known for bringing the heat — quite literally. The Japanese steakhouse prepares proteins on a 12-foot robata grill using mesquite charcoal and almond wood at temperatures of up to 1,900 degrees and serves them up with sides of Japanese-inspired marinades and sauces. Sides change seasonally, but one of Bian’s faves is the sweet corn with butter and soy, inspired by a farm supplier’s visit to the Scottsdale location (Roka Akor has other locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Skokie, Illinois). “As we were preparing dozens of side dishes to put on the menu, we found that this grilled side dish is just simply amazing. Corn is sweet, so we add a little acid in the form of ponzu, which lends a bit of citrus and a little richness from the butter,” he explains. “We top it off with Japanese seven spices to make a balanced side dish.” The corn is such a hit some guests even stop by to order a few cobs with a beer in the bar, he says. Make a reservation at Roka Akor.

The Best Steakhouse Sides

Prime & Provisions, Chicago, Illinois
Owner David Rekhson says quality and seasonality are the hallmarks of Prime & Provisions. “We’re the only all-natural, no hormones, no antibiotics sourcing natural, organic, and local in Chicago,” he says. But when it comes to the roasted purple cauliflower with pistachio and parmesan, it’s all about the three C’s: color, cream, and crunch. The popular side makes its way to most tables at this new Loop hotspot and is also sourced with organic produce and dairy. Like your sides extra smoky? Prime & Provisions features a secluded area mean for cigar lovers with a choice of a dozen stogies. Make a reservation at Prime & Provisions.

The Best Steakhouse Sides

The Palm, Boston, Massachusetts
It may be lobster season at The Palm, but forget the shells — their new popular side of Nova Scotia lobster mac ‘n’ cheese features ziti instead, topped with an indulgent bacon crust. The view of the sexy Seaport District from the newly renovated patio is enough to inspire an order alone, but the topping really pushes it over the edge of buzzworthiness, and it’s already one of the top sellers on The Palm’s seasonal three-course Summer Lobster Menu for 2 for You. Chef Karen Mitchell says she “encourages guests to expect the unexpected,” and the mac ‘n’ cheese “truly surprises and delights, reinventing the comfort-food staple and elevating the fresh flavors of The Palm’s signature lobster. It’s not something you’d expect on a steakhouse menu, so guests are really excited.” The limited-time addition to The Palm’s steak and Italian lineup is also part of a seasonal entertainment series, including Friday night music trivia on the patio with a chance to win gift cards to try some other signature sides, such as asparagus fritti with lemon garlic butter and goat cheese whipped potatoes. Make a reservation at The Palm.

The Best Steakhouse Sides

Swift & Sons, Chicago, Illinois
Creamed spinach may be a standard on most steakhouse menus, but that doesn’t mean his version has to be standard says Swift & Sons chef Chris Pandel. “We are not reinventing the wheel; rather, we’re trying to make the best wheel we can,” he said. “Creamed spinach is a must have for a steakhouse experience, but we wanted to make sure the spinach didn’t get lost among the rich sauce that accompanies it.” Shocking and blanching the leaves and leaving the greens intact and combining them with vin blanc and roasted mushrooms with porcini aioli and croutons makes for a multi-textured side that’s bright, firm, and still maintains the original flavor of the veg without being a watery snooze. Make a reservation at Swift & Sons.

The Best Steakhouse SidesContinue Reading

Like Father, Like Son: For Father and Son Chefs, Cooking Is a Family Affair

Being a great cook might not be a genetically inherited trait, but having a parent who is a gifted chef definitely helps. In honor of Father’s Day, we talked to a trio of father and son chefs, the latter of which credit their dads’ work in kitchens for their own culinary success. These three sons are shining brightly as they carry on the family business.

Father and Son Chefs

Fabio and Luca Trabocchi

Fabio Trabocchi has a James Beard Award and has been named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef. But the chef-owner of Fiola, Fiola Mare, and Casa Luca in Washington, D.C., didn’t want to push either of his children to become chefs. Nonetheless, when his son, Luca, turned four, Fabio put him to work doing small tasks to help make Sunday suppers at home. By age six, Luca was using a dull knife to cut up ingredients. A year later, he asked his father if he could join him in the kitchen at Fiola. “I saw how hard he worked,” says Luca, who is now 12-years-old. “I thought what he was doing was pretty cool.”

The young toque started working the pastry station because his mother, Maria, didn’t want him next to open flames and hot grills in the kitchen. The pastry team taught him how to make a multitude of treats, including macarons, ice cream, chocolates, and bomboloni. The experience proved equally enriching for Fabio but on a different level. “Luca reminds me of the joy of being in the kitchen,” he says. “It’s refreshing and energizing.”

As Luca grew up, he helped his father with more complex cooking, such as grilling fish at the end of service when the kitchen calmed down or coming in early to help him make pasta from scratch. As they worked together side by side, his father has taught him culinary skills and imprinted his overriding philosophy of never giving up. “Cooking is an art,” says Luca. “There are mistakes you have to make in order to learn how to do it right.”

Luca still isn’t sure if he wants to pursue a career as a chef, but Fabio is content knowing his son will know how to cook a meal – and a good one, at that – after his training. “I just want him to be happy,” says Fabio. “I found ‘my voice’ through what I do. If he feels the same way, he’s more than welcome to have a career in the kitchen. If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.”

Father and Son Chefs

Martial and Mathieu Noguier

Growing up, Mathieu Noguier spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his father, three-time James Beard Award nominee Martial Noguier and chef-owner of Chicago’s bistronomic. His dad would place him up on the pass, so Mathieu could watch the action unfold. When he was six-years-old, his father gave him a more active role by moving him to the pastry kitchen, where Mathieu would be charged with making macarons, madeleines, and soufflés. Occasionally, when he was bored with baking, Mathieu would be placed on salad duty. He helped out in this capacity until he was a teenager, but it didn’t inspire any desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. “I didn’t want to work in the industry,” he says. “I saw how hard it was and I knew the hours he was working. I wanted to stay away from all that. Plus, everybody who was doing it told me not to do it, so I figured they knew what they were talking about.”

When it came time to think about a career, he enrolled at King’s College in New York City and began working toward getting a degree in economics. However, the coursework didn’t ignite his interest. Mathieu began cooking at home to relax after class and finally decided to take a break from school to try his hand at cooking professionally. Back at his father’s restaurant, he began helping out with the morning prep work and doing the dishes. “My father is an old school guy, so he wanted me to start at the bottom,” he says.

He didn’t want his first full-time culinary job to be with his dad, though, so he pulled some strings to score at job at Melisse in Santa Monica, California. After that, he began a two-year stint working under his father at bistronomic.

His father likes to dole out lessons to the now 22-year-old chef, who recently took a break from the family business to do stages at In de Wulf in Heuvelland, Belgium, and Pottoka in Paris. “He’s entered his sage era,” says Mathieu. “The one piece of advice he’s given me that has made the biggest difference is that people who are successful are the people who are on time. He’s also always told me that cooking is easy; managing is the hard part.”Continue Reading

Chef Fathers on Being a Dad + How They’re Spending #FathersDay

Neckties, barbecue tools, and Hallmark card platitudes have become de rigueur around about the third Sunday in June. Most dads, like most moms, will agree that any recognition of their parental dedication is more than welcome. Nevertheless, the true essence of Father’s Day is to simply celebrate the contributions of fathers, and father figures, to their children’s lives. With some fathers trading briefcases for diaper bags, a modern dad struggles as much as a mother to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Enter the chef and/or chef/restaurateur; much like parenting, this is a daily round-the-clock commitment. When the buck stops with you, there are no days off. Working evenings, weekends, and holidays renders family time even more precious. Much like balancing flavors, harmonizing work life and family life can be delectable and rewarding. We rounded up three chef fathers to talk about Father’s Day and what being a dad means to them.

Martin Rios, executive chef + proprietor, Restaurant Martin, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rios family blog copyMartin Rios of Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe seems to have struck a copacetic balance between work and family. A James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Southwest, Rios and his wife, Jennifer, who is also his business partner, are doing more than preparing outstanding progressive American cuisine; they are raising two teenage daughters. Emma and Annaliese, 17 and 14 respectively, have spent many an hour back-of-the-house with their parents. Does Rios see them following in his footsteps? “No, I am not encouraging them to follow in my footsteps. If this is the path they choose, I will, of course, support them, but whatever they choose to do is what I will encourage. They do help in the kitchen at home and at work, but we are hardly at home since we are owned by a restaurant!”

With culinary arts taking center stage in this family, the proverbial apple might not have fallen far from the tree. Rios, who is also his own pastry chef, is proud of his oldest daughter Emma’s baking prowess. “Emma, has become an inspired baker and always has an eye on a beautiful presentation,” explains Rios. Conversely, Rios’ younger daughter, Anneliese “has become as close to a vegan as she can get!”

How is the Rios family going to celebrate Father’s Day? “By working! Our restaurant is always open on holidays and Father’s Day is no exception. We will work and then eat together as a family at the restaurant.”

Michael Schwartz, chef + founder, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, Florida

Tamara and Michael Schwartz blog copyJames Beard Award-winning chef/restaurateur Michael Schwartz of Miami’s Genuine Hospitality Group, which includes Schwartz’s flagship, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, is the father of “the three best kids on earth; Harry is 12, Lulu is 15, and Ella, my eldest is 18.” Schwartz hails from a family where neither parent did any cooking. “Dad did encourage me to get that first restaurant job. I started out as a busser, and the kitchen lured me in pretty quickly. Today, Schwartz’s children are intricately involved in everything he does, both at home and in his career. Ella and Harry have namesake eateries: ella, a casual pop-up cafe serving breakfast and lunch in Palm Court, in Miami’s Design District, and Harry’s Pizzeria, also in the Design District. Lulu might not have a restaurant named after her, but she does have bottles of wine. Lua Rossa is a California red that is blended annually with Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat winery in Santa Barbara. Lulu is not only the inspiration, but the designer of the label.Continue Reading

Five Foodie Fathers to Follow on Instagram for #FathersDay

With Father’s Day fast approaching, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the dads who share equal parts parenting and eating adventures on Instagram. Get inspired by these five foodie fathers to follow on Instagram – for what’s on their plates both literally and figuratively.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s family includes his wife Amelia, son Catcher, daughter Louisiana, dogs Potato and Vito, and chickens Bear and Squid, His family of restaurants includes The Greenhouse Tavern and Trentina (a runner-up in Esquire’s 2014 Best New Restaurants), among others, which recently helped him win a James Beard Best Chef Great Lakes Award earlier this year. Chef Sawyer’s Instagram showcases the heralded food from his restaurants and what he and his family enjoy to eat in their coveted time together (And some really cute dog pictures, as well. Woof!).

Dad_Beets blog copy
Do you like to put an egg on it (whatever it happens to be)? Food in sandwich form? Waffle-y concoctions? Check, check, check? Then have we got an IG stream for you. Dad Beets, recently highlighted on Mashable, has all that – and more. There are adorable kid pics galore and whether he’s eating out or whipping up sammies in, he’ll show you that life is more delicious when you’re raising tomorrow’s foodies.


Kevin Blankenship blog copy
Don’t let your kids see Kevin Blankenship’s Instagrams. Any of ‘em. Not if you plan on ever making them even a single pancake again. Blankenship (a cartoonist, if that makes you feel better) uses the blank slate of a frying pan and tasty batter to create epically artistic pancakes that are spot-on renderings of some of the most beloved pop culture touchstones, from Cookie Monster to the Millennium Falcon.Continue Reading