We arrived at Fleming's on one of the coldest days in recent memory, a frigid day which required layered clothing and strength of character, and as soon as we walked into Fleming’s, we began to warm up physically and psychologically.
We were shown to a table on the second level, which looked out to the street through the 2-story wall of windows, an unparalleled panorama which lacked only a light snowfall for maximum effect.
The staff was friendly, and when we asked them for recommendations, they provided a feast that left us almost without room for dessert.
We received a delicious artisanal bread at the same time as the menus, with two spreads that were fabulous – a fluffy parmesan-garlic butter, and a chardonnay-feta spread with a light herb quality, both of which complemented the hearty rye baguette well.
We ordered two appetizers which are house specialties, and featured in a promotion called "5 for 6 'til 7", which features five cocktails, wines by the glass and appetizers, for six dollars until seven o'clock. This, plus the wide downstairs bar area, makes Fleming’s a great place for drinks and a nosh after work.
The tenderloin carpaccio, served on gruyere/parmesan toast, was sweet and savory, with a basil/spinach chiffonade and caper/creole mustard, which balanced salty and sweet flavors well. The carpaccio melted in our mouths, and the gruyere/parmesan toast could easily have stood as an appetizer in its own right.
We also enjoyed the calamari, breaded and lightly dipped in sweet chili sauce, which had a Cantonese feel and will be a hit with anyone who enjoys sweet and sour dishes. Both appetizers were so well-sized that either would have easily served two persons.
The wine selection at Fleming’s is broad, and the menu is organized well, from lighter-bodied to full-bodied wines, making it easy to pair with your dinner, but if you need recommendations, the staff is familiar enough with the inventory to steer you in the right direction.
Steve ordered a 2008 Red Diamond Merlot from Columbia Valley in Washington for the preliminary menu, a value wine (also featured on the early-evening specials) which had medium acidity and strong flavors or black currant and a hint of chocolate – it was a fine, fruity companion to the appetizers. Jackie had the 2009 Mark West Pinot Noir, an oaky wine with a piney nose and pronounced tannins. It had less heft than the Merlot, but was also a highly-drinkable wine, fine for kicking back after work.
After surveying the menu, we opted for two of the classic items: the New York Strip and a Roasted Salmon, which are house specialties and were recommended by our servers. We felt it was best to complement classic dishes with classic sides, and ordered a classic baked potato and wedge salads.
The wedge salads arrived quickly, with not only the required blue cheese, but a blue cheese dressing drizzled over the top, and grape tomatoes and red onion slivers scattered around the main attraction, a wedge of iceberg lettuce. When it arrived, if I didn’t feel like a character in an episode of Mad Men, our next course would seal the deal. The Merlot was a terrific pairing with the salad, which brought out its fruitiness.
For the main course, Steve ordered a New York Strip – this is, after all, a steakhouse – and
Fleming’s preparation, a 1600 degree oven, properly seared the steak without overcooking it. The steak was ordered ‘medium rare’ and so it was delivered – pink on the inside, slightly charred on the outside. Jackie noted that Steve’s first words after cutting into the steak were, “oh my god”, a pretty good indicator of the quality.
Steve ordered a second wine for the main course, the
2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet, a full-bodied, slightly oaky wine, with pronounced tannins that accentuated the seared crust on the beef, which had a slight garlic butter flavor. The steak was hearty but tender, a perfectly prepared steak, harder to find in 2011 than it was during the Mad Men years. The baked potato, which we shared, was also perfectly hot and tender, with a variety of toppings provided to us, on the side as per request.
Jackie’s salmon was glazed with a citrus / teriyaki sauce, and served with savory mushrooms slow-cooked in butter with carmelized red onions. Despite a light feel, the fish had a sweet and savory flavor, and it was as good a companion for the baked potato as the New York Strip.
We barely had room for dessert, but managed to squeeze in the Chocolate Lava Cake, a magnificent concoction of chocolate fudge sauce, chocolate cake, ice cream, and vanilla wafers which paired well with the last of the Chateau Ste. Michelle and also with a cappuccino aperitif.
Fleming’s ambience to be very comforting and relaxing – on a day where the weather made any endeavor stressful – and we’d strongly recommend it for after-work revelry or for a hearty dinner with good friends or family. They also have seasonal Prix Fix menus. The Winter Prix Fix menu includes a choice of soup or salad appetizer, a main course, and a for dessert.
Fleming's is also highly suitable to private events, from small social gatherings to large business events, and has Private Dining Directors that can manage "the personal touches that make an event special."
Fleming's is a chain, this is a review of the Chicago location.
25 East Ohio Street, Chicago, Il
Monday-Thursday: 5 pm - 10 pm
Friday and Saturday: 5 pm - 11 pm
Sunday: 4 pm - 9 pm
Nearby Locations: Lincolnshire