Finally. After three years of sitting a Parasole gift card that became two gift cards, and then three gift cards, we finally made it to Manny’s. We planned to go a few times before now, but our plans were always thwarted by something. I made reservations three weeks ago, and they were still booked from 5:30 to 8:15, so I got us a table in the bar at 8:15 last Saturday night.
I had wanted to sit in the bar anyways, as long as we could get a booth, as it had seemed a little more happening than the dining room. I had heard people complain about the bar being loud, and it was, but for some reason it didn’t bother me like it normally would. I think we were just excited to finally be there :)
We were sat and IMMEDIATELY served water, which I’m sure Erin appreciated. The service throughout the night was excellent, as I would expect. We were seated in a large, high backed booth that would comfortably fit four people, so we had room to spare.
In spite of the $2 upcharge to get your cocktail served “up or on the rocks”(???) I ordered a Manhatten up, while Erin went straight to the wine we had planned to order. I told our server, Tony, that we were in no rush and wanted to hang out and enjoy ourselves and that seemed to suit him just fine, which I appreciated. It’s rare that I actually wanted to sit and chill at a restaurant for very long, so I was glad he wasn’t going to rush us.
We ordered the lobster cakes as an appetizer that Tony had recommended and they didn’t disappoint. They were just barely done, soft and crumbly and delicious, just enough to whet your appetite for more food, and from this point on, the portions were ridiculously sized.
Even though I was fairly certain I was going to get a filet, it was fun to have Tony wheel over a cart that contained each different steak they offer, so you could see exactly what it was you were getting. They have a cut called the “bludgeon of beef’ that comes with a long bone protruding out of it like a handle. It was disgustingly large and $85. I passed. The filets looked tiny in comparison, but I was pretty sure a 12 oz steak was going to be plenty, so I stuck with my gut.
I ordered my steak medium rare and we added some loaded mashed potatoes as a side. No vegetable, and I’m glad we skipped it because they probably used five potatoes in our side dish, which was obviously more than enough food.
Our food came out incredibly quickly, they must get on those steaks as soon as they are ordered. I have to imagine the mashed potatoes are mostly made, and then mashed to order.
The steak, as expected, was fantastic. I ordered medium rare, Erin medium, and there was a clear difference between the two. Erin kind of wished she had ordered medium rare, and I was kind of wishing I had ordered rare :) They were served with a bearnaise sauce on the side (the horror!) which was very good, but I didn’t use it on the whole steak - it was delicious on its own.
Erin was ordering dessert, and I was ordering scotch. I asked for a small glass of Glen Livet and Tony informed me that they don’t pour them small. Fine. I just want some scotch. Erin ordered banana cream pie and I figured I could have a bite or two. The scotch and pie came out and both were out-of-this-world large. Seriously. We both had pie at the restaurant, both of us had some the next day, and then Erin had more the NEXT day and it was finally gone. The scotch pour was nearly four fingers in a good sized low ball glass. Tony set the scotch down on the table and said “Good night!”. He was right. By the time I finished the scotch and a couple bites of pie, I was painfully full, even after having unbuttoned my pants before dessert even arrived.
We took a quick glance around the dining room to see what it looked like before we left, and I felt justified in choosing the bar, seemed like a much more fun vibe. If we ever go back I’ll make sure to get a booth in the bar again. You can even request a server by name if you want. I recommend Tony if you ever go, he’s great :)
Service: Excellent service, we wanted for nothing.
Food: Awesome. Steaks were great, as you would expect. Lobster cakes were a good suggestion. The mashed potatoes could use a ton of garlic.
Drinks: Full, and beautiful, bar. No tap beer, which I think is kind of lame. Huge wine list.
Ambiance: Loud, but fun in the bar, the dining room seemed to have a life of its own, even though there is just a doorway separating the two.
Convenience: We took a cab both ways, which was convenient, but expensive. Downtown can be a pain in the ass. There, I said it.
This dinner out reminded me just how much I LOVE going to nice restaurants and having a long leisurely meal. As Ben mentioned, we have had gift cards to Parasole for YEARS - we always intended to use them at Manny's, so we knew we'd need a lot to actually have a decent meal since the prices here are absurd. Completely and utterly ridiculous, along with the portion sizes - but, we knew that going in and just let go and enjoyed it. We got the original gift card years ago, but I was pregnant for much of the last 3 years and wanted to at least enjoy a bottle of wine and not well-done steak here, so those times were out. We tried a few months ago, but the night before both came down with some random illness - so finally it all worked it. We decided that this meal was to celebrate Ben's birthday and Father's Day, and then I got a promotion at work last week too, so that was well timed for this "celebration" dinner as well! For us, we'd need a special occasion to go to a place like this - however, it seemed like there were a lot of people in the bar area just enjoying a normal night out there - who are these people!? We got a bit dressed up and even decided to take cabs to and from the restaurant - going all out, because who knows when we'll be able to get a babysitter again!!
As we've done at several places now, we chose to sit in the bar and I'm glad we did. The dining room looked very stuffy, and the tables were super close together. Since we were in a large booth, it felt a bit more intimate, despite the volume of the bar area. We immediately got bread and water which was good since I was starving (it was 8pm after all). The bread was pretty good, but not the best I've had, and was a little too salty for my taste.
The wine list was completely overwhelming to me. Back in June when we had originally planned to go, I sent it to Kate and told her to just pick a reasonably priced red that was delicious. She told us to go with the Benzinger Estate, so that was easy enough. Ben briefly considered paying the $25 corkage fee and just buying a nice-ish bottle (which to us, is like $15 at the liquor store) but it was worth the extra $10 to not seem like a bunch of cheap a-holes. This wine was absolutely divine. I enjoyed more than my fair share of the bottle, but as you saw above, Ben was pretty well served himself.
Our server was quite chummy without being super annoying. So chummy, that apparently Ben even remembered his name even days later?? He recommended the lobster cakes when we mentioned that we were considering an appetizer, so we went with those and it was a great choice. They had HUGE chunks of lobster in them, and lots of cheese and herbs. So good. This was the only thing we ordered where the portions actually seemed appropriate, so that was good because I did NOT want to ruin my appetite and I had far more food to eat that night.
I knew before even getting there that I'd get the filet. I was kind of surprised that Ben chose that as well, even after observing all the other completely absurd cuts of meat that were available. I ordered it medium, which was described as pink and warm in the center. Medium rare was described as pink and cool, which sounded gross to me, but after tasting a bite of Ben's steak, I think would have been a bit better. We could clearly taste the difference between medium and medium rare and they matched the descriptions perfectly. I really did enjoy my steak, and the Bearnaise sauce was a nice addition, and somewhat shocking that there wasn't an additional charge for that. That being said, this was not the best steak I've ever had. That title is still held by Murray's, and the steak I had at erte might even eclipse this, which surprised me greatly. I think this steak just seemed a little less juicy and tender than the others - even Ben's medium rare as well, so it wasn't like mine was just overcooked. It's possible that I'm pickier now, or that my tastes have changed. I will likely never know, because I don't plan on going back - there are way too many steakhouses and other nice restaurants in this city for me to go to the same place twice.
We also got the loaded mashed potatoes, and they were indeed loaded. Ben was borderline offended that there did not seem to be any garlic in them. I suspect there was, just not the massive amounts he tends to put in everything. I thought they were great, but far, far farrrrrr too much for 2 people.
By this point, I was drunk and full - definitely the sign of a good night out. I still wanted dessert - the key lime pie and banana cream pie were both recommended - I probably would have chosen key lime, but Ben wanted a few bites and he swayed me toward the banana. This was also just so absurdly huge it was laughable, especially after everything else. It was basically a whole pie, just for us. Topped with homemade caramel, it was absolutely delicious and still was the 2 additional times I ate it at home! I only had a few bites at the restaurant because I went to the bathroom and when I came back, Ben had it boxed up already because he thought I was done. Very sad. I also got a decaf coffee and was kind of upset because the first cup was not very hot, and they just had packets of sugar which seems too diner like for a nice place like this. I prefer when they have sugar cubes, but that's a little nitpicky I guess.
We had such an amazing dinner at Manny's - it was definitely worth the wait. I loved the atmosphere in the bar area - it was fun and loud, but since we were in a booth we could still feel like we were on an intimate date and could hear our own conversation well. I would definitely recommend it for a special occasion.
825 Marquette Ave