In 2011, a Texas-based steakhouse made its way into the Windy City and entered into an already abundant carnivorous crowd of restaurants. Located in Lakeshore East, the generally residential pocket neighborhood just off Michigan Avenue, III Forks tried to set itself apart from the beginning, with its retro design, floor-to-ceiling windows, and swanky rooftop deck with views of MIllennium Park.
Three years later, III Forks is still forging ahead of the game with the addition of Chef Billy Caruso, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and a Level II Sommelier. Chef Caruso has revamped the menu at III Forks since his arrival last year, and has placed greater emphasis on sourcing ingredients from local farms and fisheries. He is passionate about bringing inspirational, creative dishes to Chicago’s culinary scene, presents fresh seafood nightly, and is eager to introduce diners to elevated and expressive dishes with unique ingredients and preparations that are not found at other steakhouses. The white table cloths have also been done away with, inviting a more relaxed and comfortable environment.
I recently dined at III Forks and had the opportunity to chat with Chef Caruso. His passion and excitement for what he does is evident, not only in speaking with him, but by tasting his food on the plate, as well.
To begin, Chef Caruso highlighted a number of delicious appetizers, including the ahi tuna, tomato & burrata, seared scallops, and crabcake. All were fantastic. The sushi-grade ahi tuna, lightly topped with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and fine herbs, was meaty and delicious. The accompanying avocado mousse was a nice accompaniment.
I absolutely loved the tomato & burrata. Luckily heirloom tomatoes were still in season when I tried this dish, and they were spectacular, especially with the creamy burrata, olive oil, and balsamic reduction.
The seared scallops, served with a housemade bacon jam, were meaty, tasty, and perfectly cooked, with a nice char on either side.
The crabcake was equally delicious. Lump crab meat made up the majority of this cake, and it sat atop a flavorful, yet light, lemon beurre blanc.
Next came a fantastic fish dish which highlighted not only Chef Caruso’s creativity with flavor combinations, but his use of seasonal ingredients. The striped bass sat atop a ratatouille of wonderful root vegetables and squash, and was topped with fresh micro greens and shavings of white truffles. A caramel sauce worked surprisingly well to bring all of the flavor components together. While this offering is not a permanent menu item, some iteration of it should be at all times. It encapsulated everything that Chef Caruso is attempting to do at III Forks.
I also tried an excellent Atlantic salmon, simply prepared and topped with a fresh pesto sauce. The salmon was expertly cooked and just melted in my mouth. The fried brussel sprouts, served with roasted chili aioli, were a tasty side and offered a little bit of crunch.
Of course, no trip to a steakhouse is complete without a little red meat, and Chef Caruso recommended the pepper-crusted prime New York strip, topped with King’s Butter – made from black truffle, black garlic, foie gras, honey, and sea salt. The King’s Butter definitely made the dish.
Dessert was a phenomenal cake, served warm, and topped with a lovely crème anglaise. It was moist, tasty, and the perfect end to the meal.
I was quite pleased with my entire meal, including the wines and the friendly and knowledgeable service. I am happy to see a steakhouse attempting to break out of the typical mold and attempt new and creative ways of preparing food, especially with the inclusion of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
III Forks is open for dinner seven days a week, takes reservations, and is ideal for a drink at the bar or on the rooftop in season, for a comfortable dinner with family or friends, for a date night, or for a business dinner.
180 North Field Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60601
While my meal was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.