The restaurant that opened in Oak Brook under the greatest name in basketball has quite a few things in common with the Michael Jordan Steakhouse downtown on the Mag Mile—some signature dishes and an ethos of sourcing meat and ingredients as locally as possible. But the Oak Brook location that opened just a few months ago has a broader range of offerings of American comfort classics.
Upon walking in, we were greeted by a wall of framed black and white shots of M.J. from his entire career with the Bulls. It’s the largest displayed collection of Jordan photographs in world, all donated from the personal collection of Bulls photographer Bill Smith.
Where the Jordan steakhouses have an upscale vibe, this restaurant feels a little more casual. The photos stand out as the only decorative element in the main dining room against dark wall panels and dark wood. The spacious bar on the other side of the entrance—separated by an iron gate modeled to resemble the pattern inside of a basketball—has a bit more of a sports bar vibe with flat screen TVs and cabinets reminiscent of basketball lockers.
The first item on the menu is listed as the M.V.P., the Signature Garlic Bread. We ordered the small, a stack of four toasted ciabatta, crisp at the edges, soft and garlic butter soaked at the center. A gravy boat of warm blue cheese fondue from Roth Cheese in southern Wisconsin is poured around the perimeter of the bowl tableside. Even without the creamy fondue, there are hints of blue cheese amongst the garlic bread. They call this the M.V.P. for a reason. We’ve never had garlic bread quite like this, and we wanted more immediately.
The unique approach to their menu was apparent immediately. We’d never seen bacon as an appetizer before. Bacon-wrapped somethings, sure; just bacon, never. The Nueske’s Double Smoked Bacon comes Neuske’s Applewood Smoked Meats in Wittenberg, Wisconsin. It is simply thick double cut strips of bacon caramelized with syrup from Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora, Indiana. Each bite starts maple sweet before the thick flavors of smoke and pepper take over. You just don’t find bacon like this. Apparently, Jordan’s been known to ask Culinary Director Craig Couper to send the ingredients for this one directly to him when he’s craving it and can’t get to one of his locations.
When it comes to meat, they’re not messing around. The Deviled Short Ribs are delivered inside of a thick marrow bone, split in half and stuffed with shredded braised beef and gruyere cheese. Riding on top of a buttered slice of ciabatta bread, slightly blackened from the grill, the taste is like the most decadent version of a Chicago Italian beef sandwich ever.
At the opposite end of the flavor spectrum is the Crab Cake appetizer. Once again relying on the superiority of their ingredients, they use no fillers. It’s just chunks of fresh jumbo lump crab meat. The presence of breadcrumbs is reserved solely to bookend the cake at top and bottom, to give it a little structure and provide a crispy, tantalizing sear to each bite. Meyer Lemon Aioli adds a gentle touch of citrus and creaminess to the fresh crab flavor.
Having seen what they could do with pork, beef, and seafood, we thought we’d see how they handled chicken with our first entree. The Chicken Milanese is buttermilk marinated and coated with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and fried crispy. The exterior crunch is buttery and delectable encasing the juicy free-range chicken inside. The most intriguing aspect of this dish is the seasonal touch of grilled peaches to an arugula salad. Sampled on its own, grilling brings an extra-sweet presence to the peaches that’s really nice with arugula, parmesan, and balsamic dressing.
Jordan’s favorite entree is the 14-ounce Prime Delmonico steak from Linz Heritage Angus in Crown Point, Indiana. It’s dry aged for 45 days and served with a balsamic ginger jus, topped with scallions and slender enoki mushrooms. A grill-kissed exterior surrounding tender pink meat is a classic recipe for success, especially when dealing with Black Angus of this quality.
Jordan’s signature number 23 appears throughout the menu several times, from rum aged 23 years to its appearance as a frequent price point, but our favorite use of the number has to be the 23 Layer Chocolate Cake. A slice of it stands so tall that it needs braces of dark chocolate cashew bark on either side to keep it upright during transport. It’s carefully set down and sliced between alternating layers of dense chocolate cake and creamy chocolate ganache to make reasonably-sized slices for plating. It’s covered in whipped cream on one side and a chocolate sauce on the end. We each had a slice and there was still plenty to take home.
The first page of the menu has this Jordan quote: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
The exquisite menu at Michael Jordan’s Restaurant is yet another success to add to his list of accomplishments.
Michael Jordan’s Restaurant is located at 1225 W. 22nd Street in Oak Brook, 630-828-2932, michaeljordansrestaurant.com.