Wilmette is currently in the middle of a restaurant renaissance. It’s as if the city has issued a challenge to the North Shore’s culinary elite to see who can best combine a distinct and cozy atmosphere with insanely mouthwatering food. Sophia Steak answered the call.
Settling into the tan leather booths, we felt nestled in a warm, familiar steakhouse atmosphere—dark woods and intimate lighting. It perfectly set the stage for the evening that followed, which is no surprise when you look at Sophia Steak’s founders. Glenn Keefer’s eponymous Keefer’s Restaurant in River North was a Chicago steakhouse staple and Ryan O’Donnell’s Ballyhoo Hospitality line-up includes Gemini in Lincoln Park, Coda di Volpe in Lakeview, and Walton Street Kitchen + Bar in the Gold Coast. From their inspired touches on spirit-forward cocktails to the most delectable, warm Brown Butter Cake for dessert, Sophia Steak will open soon to define itself as an unmissable North Shore steak experience.
Sophia Steak is located at 1146 Wilmette Avenue in Wilmette, sophiasteak.com.
The main event. The moment we bit into the signature steak our first impression was the extreme tenderness of the expert preparation, then the peppercorn crust hit us in a mouthwatering wave, before the flavor resolved in a smooth cognac creaminess. From the quality of the meat to their 1800-degree infrared steakhouse broiler to finishing each cut with a lather of compound butter, Sophia Steak knows steak.
CRISPY LOBSTER TAIL & SHISHITOS
Sophia Steak understands how criminally underrepresented shishito peppers are on modern menus and has done their part to correct it. This dish is an incredible combination of impeccable ingredients and culinary creativity that delivers deeply satisfying comfort food flavors. Morsels of lobster are lightly breaded and fried crunchy with no hint of greasiness. Thin slices of lemon get the same treatment delivering fresh zest rendered subtle by the fryer. The shishito peppers bring garden fresh tang without leaning too heavily into spice. A ramekin of housemade lemon aioli for dipping gives a creamy butter vibe we adored with the fresh lobster. The result is a dish both decadent and light, an exemplary introduction to their dining philosophy.
Every salad should have haystack onion rings. This salad is a further examination of the way Sophia Steak reinvents steakhouse staples, adding unexpected upscale touches while simultaneously making them more approachable. Upscale—thick cubes of maple bacon lardon, baby gem lettuce, shaved blue cheese, and marinated cherry tomatoes. Approachable—haystack onion rings, chopped pickled red onion, and buttermilk ranch dressing. It’s bright, sharp, refreshing, and creamy; everything we wanted in a wedge salad remix.
The Pommes Anna, though ordered separately, is the perfect companion side dish for the Steak Sophia. We can’t imagine a more buttery potato. Tissue thin slices of potato drenched in butter and arranged in a lovely expanding rosette, it’s as beautiful a dish as it is delicious. Dipped in the steak sauce from the neighboring plate, it’s unstoppable.