From the moment you arrive at Beelow’s Steakhouse, you know they’re all about the family farm. Three green John Deere tractors are parked in the front parking spaces and corn stalks grow from the plant beds at the front door. Black and white photos cover the walls inside, each with a caption like you’d find in a family photo album. One caption underneath a photo of a cow hung up to dry in the sun reads, “This is how dad used to dry age his beef.”
The restaurant is divided into three distinct spaces. The main dining room is spacious and feels like a prime spot for family dining. The indoor bar is huge and carries a wide selection of beers brewed in the region. Directly outside is a massive outdoor dining room, it’s basically like having a second restaurant. There are plexiglass walls that drop in and out making it an outdoor patio space during the summer and a cozy lodge-like environment during the winter. There are two fireplaces, several massive flat-screen TVs, waterfalls cascading down the stacked stone walls, and another bar specifically to service the outside.
The breadboard that met us at the table served as an excellent indicator for the way Beelow’s acts as the intersection of farm-fresh country cooking and contemporary sensibilities. It carried both golden, oven-warm cornbread muffins and a fresh, sliced pretzel roll. Both were delicious with soft butter spread across them, but the cornbread was especially noteworthy, warm and crumbly, with kernels of sweet corn throughout and a hint of cayenne pepper.
When we asked for standouts from the Starters menu, the artichoke dip was recommended by a couple of sources. It’s supremely creamy, artichoke and spinach swimming in melted mozzarella and cream cheese. There’s a wonderful garlic presence and small bits of zest from chopped red pepper. Spread across crunchy toasted slices of French bread that circle the perimeter it’s a delectable vegetable-heavy fondue.
Kelly’s Spicy Asian Shrimp arrives on a festive bed of shredded purple cabbage, which adds a nice pop of color and some earthy crunch to the shrimp. The shrimp have the tails removed and are covered in cornmeal, fried crispy, and covered in a layer of zesty sauce reminiscent of tartar sauce and ranch. A sprinkling of chopped scallions serve as the top layer, adding an element of extra bite. This is one of the most popular shareables to start out the meal, we saw them dotting tables throughout the dining room.
Though all of the meat they use is excellent, once every six or seven weeks they get some cuts from Duane’s prized stock at the family farm in Mundelein. Whenever it’s in, it’s the highlight of the specials menu, and it goes fast. The aging process for the family steak is very particular. It’s dry aged a minimum of 21 days then wet aged a minimum of 21 days for supreme tenderness. On the evening of our visit, they’d just gotten in some family filet mignon. It towers on the plate, a thick cut of meat with a mesquite-cooked exterior running to a delicate pink middle once you cut into it. It’s rich, tender, and juicy. Though its inherent juiciness is the only flavor you need, it’s accompanied by a creamy bearnaise sauce in a petite puffed pastry cup.
Beelow’s is not afraid to go full garlic. The Garlic Chicken entree proves it. Like the steak, the meat is from right down the road at Harrison’s Poultry Farm in Glenview, known for two things: raising their chickens, turkeys, and ducks naturally and cage-free; and being the place where your family can go to hand-pick the Thanksgiving bird. The Garlic Chicken is a very tender, boneless chicken breast completely covered in a layer of sliced garlic and cream sauce. It’s so deliciously garlicky that after the first few bites, our taste buds started to perceive the almost citrus-like, earthy vegetable undertones of garlic beneath. If you’re a garlic lover, like we are, this dish is endgame.
Every entree comes with a side, so we tried two of their potato preparations. The garlic mashed potatoes are whipped soft and buttery. As with their other garlic dishes, they lean into the spiciness and push it as far as they can with delectable results. But the twice-baked potato is the way to go. It’s stuffed with the same thick garlic flavor of the mashed potatoes with the addition of a healthy helping of cheddar cheese and baked until there’s an incredible crispy crust over the top. It’s good enough to be a whole meal in and of itself.
As with the courses before, we relied on the suggestion of our charming waitress to find out which dessert inspires the most dedication from Beelow’s regulars. It’s a piece of layered ice cream pie made of vanilla bean ice cream, a layer of homemade hot fudge, and espresso ice cream with chocolate chips on a chocolate cookie crumble crust over a drizzle of homemade chocolate sauce. It’s an invigorating combination of ice cream creaminess with a coffee zing and a chocolate-cookie crunch.
The meats aren’t the only thing on the menu branded with the Beelow name. Here are two house cocktails good enough to merit the family moniker.
This cocktail features the George Dickel Rye Whiskey that Beelow’s hand selected at the distillery. One of the oak barrels it was aged in greets you at the entrance, and the sharp rye flavor greets you straight off the rim of this Manhattan. A subtle bitters aftertaste follows, but they lean straight into the strength of the whiskey to set the stage here.
- Sauza Homitos Tequila
Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
Splash of orange juice
A generous Midwestern hand is pouring these drinks; the margarita is just as strong as the Manhattan. It’s a classic version of the cocktail with a sharp salty introduction from the rim that settles into a sweet citrus middle, and a lovely boozy finish.
Beelow’s Steakhouse is located at 763 S. Rand Road in Lake Zurich, 847-540-0600, beelows.com.