Maple & Ash
Romantic, with a beautiful space for some of the best steak in Chicago, it’s Maple & Ash for sophisticated, superb meat-centric dining.
The huge central second floor dining room at Maple & Ash is draped with sheer, diaphanous drapery that cushions sound and wraps you in a warm invitation to indulge to the point of excess. And nothing says excess like the hearth-roasted A5 steak at Maple & Ash. It’s only a five-ounce portion, but you probably shouldn’t actually even eat all of that. A5 is Wagyu beef from Japan ("Wa" means Japanese and "gyu" means cow), and it's rated according to a very strict scale from 1 to 5, with A5 being the highest designation (though there are subcategories even within that highest rating). Wagyu is rated based on a number of quality criteria including the amount of marbling (which is also the basis of the USDA beef rating system), but also the color and luster of the fat, as well as the brightness and texture of the meat. This is some of the best beef you – or anyone – will probably ever eat, but you're going to lose much nuance if you eat more than a little. The fat content is so deliciously high that after a few bites, your palate is coated with a thin film of lusciousness, wonderful but potentially overwhelming: best to have a few bites and savor every bit of this remarkable beef.
There are a number of other excellent steaks at Maple & Ash, including filet mignon, T-bone, New York strip, the provocatively named bone-in cowgirl steak and the old-timey-sounding Eisenhower (a 40+ ounce behemoth). Whether it’s steak or seafood, however, Maple & Ash is all about the hearth-roasting, even with the vegetable and seafood offerings, as Mike Sula of the “Chicago Reader” explains: