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Hanger Steak w/Gorgonzola Polenta from Mado

Item Purchased: Hanger Steak w/Gorgonzola Polenta
Location Purchased: Mado / 1647 N. Milwaukee Ave. / Chicago, IL
Price: $18.00 + tax
Purchased on: 05/02/08

Review: As one of the most expensive dishes on Mado’s menu, the Hanger Steak set me up with high expectations. Hanger steak was traditionally the cut of beef that butchers would save for themselves and keep secret from their customers due to its tenderness and natural flavor, so the privilege of ordering one can sometimes feel like being accepted into an inner circle of carnivores. The only catch is that hanger steak requires careful attention and precise cooking time, so even the slightest slip up can make the customer feel as if they are being hazed instead of hanging with the butchers.

Because of my taste for a perfectly medium-cooked steak, I may have made the task even more complicated. From the very little I know about cooking, hanger steak is routinely prepared rare to medium rare and can dry out easily if cooked beyond. Still, Mado persevered and came out making me feel like one of the guys as well as impressing the hell out of me with this dish.

First, it must be said that Mado is only the second restaurant in the history of my eating-out career that has succeeded in preparing a perfectly cooked medium steak (the first was Les Halles in New York). Second, the simple marinade used for this steak served only to enhance the beef’s natural flavor. Finally, the salt crust on the outside of the steak turned out to be the perfect finish to an already great cut of meat.

Though I could go on longer about the steak itself, I would rather use these last couple of lines to rave about the Gorgonzola polenta that came so lovingly cradled by the sliced beef. Deep and earthy with just the right amount of body, the polenta’s natural flavor coupled nicely with the biting cheese to both titillate and cleanse my palate between each mouthful of steak. Simply put, Mado’s flavor combination skills are, as the kids are saying, mad (I think that means phenomenal). Served with your choice of side from their menu (I chose the roasted potatoes with rosemary), the price and portions are right, even if they look small served on two separate plates with plenty of white space.

My only complaint is that the steak comes pre-sliced. Though it makes a nice presentation, I like to tear and rend… or simply slice… my own steak, thank you very much!

No… Really… Thank you very much, Mado, for being the culinary oasis needed in this part of the city!

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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