I have seen the advertisements for Chicago Prime during recent forays to Starlite Diner, and Chicago Prime has been on my list of restaurants to check out. As it turns out, and not due to a miracle in cross-advertising, Chicago Prime and Starlite Diner are part of the same operating company. I have been a loyal fan of the Starlite Diner since 1998, so I welcomed the opportunity to review Chicago Prime.
Chicago Prime’s location is near Pushkinskaya metro station and not difficult to access by metro (especially) or automobile, but traffic can be heavy and slow on the boulevard ring. Chicago Prime is also open until 0500, so if you want late night steak, traffic is a relative non-issue. Parking is available behind a shlagbaum – even though we knew before arriving that parking was available, it was not readily available at 2000 on a Monday night.
The metro station is close to the restaurant and less of a headache. Rather, a more minor headache since Pushkinskaya is composed of three stops/stations with many exits. Follow the Strastnoi Bulvar exit signs, and you should come out of the right exit.
Access to headache-free WiFi has become a condition for my repeat business at restaurants and cafes in Moscow, especially expensive restaurants that cater to the expat community. Chicago Prime has headache-free WiFi, and it is convenient to keep up to speed on emails or just search the net.
The interior and atmosphere of Chicago Prime are appealing - that is, you can readily have a conversation over a normal sized table and the dining areas are big enough that you do not have to hear about how important the guy in the next table is, ex-pat or Russian.
Also, the music was, at least for me, a “make you smile” mix of Jimmy Buffet, Van Morrison, some Police, U2, and other songs that I knew. They also did not repeat and were not over thematic – i.e. crooning, loud Italian at a pasta place, annoyingly soft, artsy pafos music, or mega-repeat unknown, gibberish English language by unknown artists you run into at a lot of places in Moscow.
Chicago Prime also has a bar section that overlooks the boulevard with comfortable seating and offers food service as well. They have Happy Hour specials on weekdays from 1700 to 2000 – the current special is two for one drinks and 20% off the bar food menu.
Upon first glance, the menu at Chicago Prime itself may appear limited, but it is not. By this I mean that the main items are on one page – and each point of a great steak and seafood menu are well covered. You will not be at a loss for choices – like me, more than one entree will make your mouth water. Same for the garnishes crafted to complement your main entree.
However, as a warning – and actually a big plus for a Moscow restaurant – the portions at Chicago Prime are hearty, so plan accordingly when you order!
We started the night with a recommended currant-limonad
(325 RUR for .5L pitcher, freshly made) that my dinner date absolutely had to try. I contemplated beer, but with an early flight out of Moscow the next morning, I really ventured outside of the culinary comfort zone with a freshly opened bottle of Coca Cola
The English translation is Cowberry Lemonade, not the most romantic name, but do not be fooled. It was a stellar mix of fresh ingredients served on ice, and I highly recommend it. The other fruit drinks listed are also likely as appealing and flavorful, and 325 RUR for .5L of freshly-made juice is a good price.
Appetizers were a shrimp cocktail
(690 RUR) over a vinaigrette type salad with a big Kamchatka crab claw, as well as Kamchatka crab cakes
(750 RUR). The shrimp cocktail came with fried parmesan cheese slabs that were, quite frankly, awesome. Appetizers were flavorful, promptly arrived after ordering, and went well with the bread basket and flavored butter.
I was a bit tortured by which entree to choose since I wanted to go with a non-typical cut for me; I chose the Porterhouse Steak
(3290 RUR). My dinner date had Maine Lobster
(350 RUR per 100g / 2450 RUR total). For garnishes, we went with sauteed, caramelized onions
(100 RUR), steamed asparagus with butter
(490 RUR), french fries with truffles
(290 RUR), and potatoes au gratin
Steak was excellent and cooked exactly how I wanted it to be. The Porterhouse is what is termed “USDA CAB Aged Beef” – an involved curing process that locks in the flavors in a multi-step process over 45 days. The difference in taste was certainly noticeable. The potatoes au gratin were spectacular – to such an extent that the french fries were largely ignored as dinner progressed.
Maine lobster was excellent without reservations. The process was interesting since you are allowed to choose your own live lobster from the tank. A fleeting moment of playing God; I was not allowed to do the same for the bovine from whence my Porterhouse originated, however.
At this point we were satiated and dessert was out of the question, although the menu was beckoning. The waiter said that he would have the bartender mix up a non-alcoholic fresh fruit drink for us (500 RUR for two) that we would like. Think of it as liquid dessert – and it was off the chart excellent! The barman came over and relayed what was in it – ask for it if you are at Chicago Prime, with or without alcohol. I would characterize it as a strawberry cousin to a Pina Colada.
We took an order of cheesecake home that was the centerpiece of breakfast this morning. There was also a nice card in the bag thanking us for our patronage and wishing us to return soon – nice touch, and not seen often in Moscow, it seems.
Our final bill pushed 11,000 rubles without gratuity. Keep in mind that we did not drink alcohol – after all, it was a Monday – so your bill can climb quickly. At the same time, we had a few dishes upon the recommendation of our waiter that we would not have had otherwise, as well as our super after-dinner cocktail times two made by the Erik the Barman.
In short, I have only good things to say about our dining experience at Chicago Prime. Location is accessible, pricing as expected, food exquisite and superb service. I highly recommend Chicago Prime for business dinners, relatives in town that need to be wooed, or a nice experience for a couple.