Knife, the steakhouse sibling from the owners of Lincoln Square's Fork announced last year, continues to progress. Chef Timothy Cottini estimates there's about eight to 12 weeks of construction and work before they can start serving up dry-aged beef and other items. For now, they're hosting a dinner on Feb. 10 at Fork (call for reservations) previewing some of the items that will appear on Knife's menu at 4343 N. Lincoln Ave.
When Knife opens, they'll try some dry-aging in-house, said Cottini, who wants to give Lincoln Square residents a neighborhood spot for steak without needing to head downtown. It's the same philosophy that the folks from The Sixth had in opening their neighborhood cocktail bar. Though diners will have a choice of maitre d'hotel butters (think red wine, shallot and herb parmesan) and sauces, Knife is about the natural taste of the meat, complimented by a seasoning of onion, garlic, black pepper and sea salt. The selections will include grilled strip steak, ribeye and perhaps a bone-in tenderloin.
As for ambience? Knife will be a throwback to supper clubs, as servers will carve meats and prepare Caesar salads table-side.
"I think we've kind of lost vision on what it's like to go out and have the meal be part of the evening," Cottini said. "We go to a dinner and a show, and it used to be the dinner was part of the show."
Before they came up with the concept for Knife, Cottini and co. had plans for a barbecue spot, which they planned calling "Spork." When they pivoted to steaks, it just made sense to keep the naming conventions in the silverware family. They'll have about 60 seats inside, with plans to later build an all-season atrium that would add another 36 seats. Though it's a throwback to older steakhouses, the vibe won't be stuffy and servers won't be wearing tuxedos. The price point will be higher than the $30 per person at Fork.
They recently brought on Jason Prah as Knife's general manager and sommelier for both restaurants. Prah, a Jean Banchet winner in 2013 as Chicago's best sommelier, moves on from Bascule Wine Bar which closed in December in University Village. There are plans for a martini cart with drinks shaken in front of diners, and Cottini envisions a classic steakhouse wine list full of hidden gems, meaning it will lean heavily toward red. However, Cottini plans a few seafood dishes on the menu, so white wine won't be shut out.
Speaking of seafood, Cottini will serve an updated version of the Chicago favorite Shrimp DeJonghe. The star of the dish will be shrimp procured from Amazing Shrimp in Gary, Ind., the same place that supplies gulf shrimp to spots like Blackbird and Mfk restaurant. Unlike the steakhouses of the past, Knife will have an eye toward sustainability, and using antibiotic-free shrimp from local suppliers instead of a Southeast Asian company makes more sense to him.
Vegetarians and vegans will also be welcome at this steakhouse. While the menu might not feature the most meatless options, Cottini said his staff looks forward to accommodating diners with dietary restrictions. Learn more in about a month, as Knife inches closer to an opening date that's within three months away.