The restaurant is beautiful. Dark and classy, it has the feel of an old-school steakhouse with an added dash of sex appeal. There is a lounge and main dining room downstairs, and more room for dining up the red velvet spiral staircase.
We had an 8 PM reservation and were quickly seated at a spacious booth at the back with views of the entire dining room. The first thing I noticed upon a quick scan of the room is I was the youngest person there... by about 25 years. The majority of the diners were older businessmen, swilling their glasses of scotch and laughing a little bit too loudly at whatever surely-unfunny joke the head honcho just told.
But enough about the atmosphere and the diners... lets move on to the food.
Mastro's Seafood Tower: Shrimp Cocktail, Oysters
Mastro's definitely doesn't shy away from drama- our seafood tower came overflowing with dry ice. The presentation is beautiful, but what matters is the taste. The shrimp were the largest shrimp I've EVER seen. Plump, juicy, and succulent, they were perfect with a little dip of Mastro's cocktail sauce. Unfortunately, the oysters were not as successful. We had three different types, and while I unfortunately forget their names, that is likely because they were altogether forgettable. Actually, they were worse than forgettable. They had a fishy aftertaste that I found altogether unpleasant. Skip the oysters here- you can find much better oysters at many places in Chicago (my favorites for oysters in Chicago are the Publican and GT Fish & Oyster).
The "Aviation" cocktail: No. 209 Gin, Luxardo Maraschino Liqeur, Creme de Violette, fresh lemon juice served up with a cherry
To go with the seafood, I ordered this martini. Mastro's martinis not only pack a punch, but they come in a shaker that the server leaves on the table that contains another full glass. I usually order their delicious classic dirty martini, but decided to change it up tonight. Unfortunately the drink was just not to my taste. It was far too bitter. I don't think this was an issue with the drink itself though, and think I simply ordered wrong. I would have liked this more with a little bit of juice or something sweet to cut the alcoholic burn just a bit.
Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad
A few months ago I was introduced to the mind-blowingly-amazingly-creamy goodness of burrata, so I was looking forward to ordering this salad. I was a bit disappointed that the burrata wasn't as silky and bursting with creme as other burratas I've had (even from Whole Foods). I'll never complain about eating tomatoes with basil and burrata, but I found this sub par, especially at Mastro's prices. The tomatoes were high-quality but not overwhelmingly flavorful. This simply did not pack the punch I had hoped for.
The pièce de résistance: Bone-in ribeye, lobster tail, roasted brussel sprouts, and alaskan king crab black truffle gnocchi
Ta-da! For our main course, we decided to go surf and turf and try a few sides. The plates at Mastros come to your table sizzling hot, keeping your food warm and cooking the steaks just a tiny bit more to perfection--- but be careful not to touch! We enjoyed all of this with a tasty California Zinfandel that suited everything perfectly.
Bone-in ribeye: One of Mastro's signature steaks. Juicy, fatty, and flavorful, it was simply amazing. If you go to Mastros and order one thing, order a steak. I really enjoyed the ribeye, but in past visits have had their filets which I think I ultimately prefer.
Lobster tail: Buttery and meaty, this was cooked to perfection. Cut a bite and dip it in the warm butter, savor, and repeat.
Roasted brussel sprouts: Cooked until tender but not burnt, these were really great but not necessarily something I felt I couldn't have done in my own kitchen.
Alaskan King Crab Black Truffle Gnocchi: I'd been wanting to try this for a while, and although it was tasty, it was definitely not worth its steep price tag. All of the flavors blended together and canceled each other out. The truffle flavor, which I adore, was barely even present, and the texture of the dish mostly amounted to mush. Tasty mush, but mush nonetheless.
Mastro's is an excellent steakhouse, but is certainly not without its flaws. After tax and tip, our meal reached nearly $400 for two people. In a city with so many innovative restaurants at more reasonable price ranges, I really see no reason to run back to Mastro's. However, if its steakhouse fare you're wanting and you're prepared to spend for it, Mastro's should absolutely be high on your list.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.