Come for the… bougie vibe and velvet couches.
Stay for the… welcome martini and delicious steak.
Earlier this week I met a few coworkers for drinks, which turned into more drinks and a deliciously fancy dinner. Maple and Ash, a wood-smoked steakhouse, is located in Chicago’s Gold Coast (formerly The Hunt Club) and opened in October 2015. It’s been on my radar since a friend dined there and recommended it, knowing how much I appreciate a cool ambiance and yummy drinks.
The First Floor and Tasty Drinks
When you walk in you see the first floor bar, which has a fabulous chandelier and clean, elegant finishes. The bar lines the left side and there are a few booths on the righthand side (the majority of dining is located on the second floor). This would be a perfect spot for a first date or just meeting a few friends. There isn’t room for a huge group here, making it a little more intimate and perfect for small get togethers.
We first sat at the first floor bar and ordered a few cocktails and wine. Their cocktail list is pretty neat and on the first few pages the martinis are split by decade, what they call History of the Martini. I love a list with a fun touch and looking at their choices from a Manhattan to an homage to James Bond makes the drink selection process even more enjoyable. I’m working on my martini game (but still a bit of a wuss) and so I flipped to their specialty cocktails and chose the Pimiento Rojo. IT’S SO GOOD. If you like the smoky taste of mezcal you’ll love this somewhat spicy, not too sweet, refreshing taste. The bartender was wonderful in answering my questions and went above and beyond in constructing a custom cocktail for my friend who was looking for a very specific flavor profile (with some dietary restrictions). She even wrote it down for us when we went to eat dinner upstairs so that the bartender would be able to recreate it.
The Second Floor, First Impressions
After about an hour we made our way to the dining room by way of the back elevator. When you get off on the second floor the dimly lit host stand is right in front of you ready to help you get situated. The dining room is rather large with romantic lighting (the tables are lit by candlelight!), cozy booths, and in the middle of the room is an atrium allowing natural light to stream in and open up the space. The windows (lining the corner of State and Maple) look over the heart of the Gold Coast since Maple and Ash is conveniently located across from the Viagra Triangle. Usually you need a reservation if you want to get a table, but they also have a nice lounge area across from the upstairs bar that’s first come first serve. We were lucky enough to score a square booth four-top which was convenient since we were eating, but I will definitely be back to try out the velvet couches lining the lounge area.
WELCOME MARTINIS and Dinner
Promptly after getting settled into our plush booth we were greeted with WELCOME MARTINIS. This is genius. It was yummy, not terrible strong (for a martini), and paired perfectly with the fresh olives and radish plates also placed on our table. And FREE. While we sipped on the deliciousness our waiter explained the menu in perfect detail, but obviously putting emphasis on some of the more expensive choices. Dinner wasn’t our original plan, so we were definitely not spending $150 on steak. Sorry. It was fun to review the menu though, despite some steep prices it has a playful tone. You can choose a chef’s choice prixe fix called “I Don’t Give a !@#$!”, and there’s Will Ferrell and movie references in the mix as well. In the end we decided to share a bunch of things that all ended up completing a meal. The four of us first split two orders of the wedge salad, which is mouth-watering! I’m not a huge creamy salad dressing person but their ranch is wonderful and complements the candied bacon pieces (sweet, salty, and meaty bacon goodness). Not to mention there are perfectly ripe tomatoes and an onion ring on top! Obviously not the healthiest salad but a great starter nonetheless. For our entree we shared two filet mignon orders (one bone in, one without). The bone in was much more flavorful and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. We paired it with the wild mushroom side and the baked and loaded potato side (black truffle jus…!!!!). Perfectly full after our steak dinner we didn’t opt for dessert but it did look appetizing. Next time!
I left Maple and Ash content and wanting to return. I’ve told multiple people a day about this hot new spot and plan on going back as soon as possible. The whole menu looked amazing and with wonderful service, many cocktail options, and a great vibe – I’m sold. I recently read that they are planning on opening a late night basement bar, so I’ll have to be on the lookout!
Maple and Ash
8 West Maple Street