Beelow's | Lake Zurich, IL & Highland Park, IL
Truly Family Farm to Table
When his grandfather started a grain and cattle farm in the 1920s, he likely never envisioned his beef being served in his grandson's restaurants. Fast forward to today and Beelow's, with two locations in the Chicago suburbs, is doing just that.
"The farm [in nearby Mundelein] has been around since the 1920s and I still live on the same driveway where I was born," said Beelow's owner Dan Beelow. "Me and my two brothers live there — all next door to each other. It's a family farm and my brother, Duane, is the farmer."
Beelow describes the restaurant as a home-style '50s steakhouse with white tablecloths, dark wood throughout and photos of his family on the farm in the '20s. The family theme runs through it and that likely helps draw in the clientele.
"We have a lot of regulars," he said. "When they come in, we don't let them down. We have friendly staff and the ability to make you feel at home. There's great food, good service and reasonable prices."
The menu features everything from shrimp cocktail and oysters Rockefeller to baby back ribs, North Atlantic salmon and rack of lamb. But, really, it's about the steaks. Beelow's sources only bottom Prime or top Choice and gets its beef all natural whenever possible. The restaurant gets ground beef for its burgers and occasionally steaks as well from the family farm, which Beelow promotes to loyal customers on Facebook. All the steaks — no matter if it's a 14-ounce prime rib; 24-ounce bone-in ribeye; or a 28-ounce porterhouse — wet age for a minimum of 45 days and get hand cut in-house before being cooked on open flame on a mesquite wood-fired grill. And then there's the sauce. This is truly a family secret that's been around for 40 years.
"I use a barbecue sauce I created 40 years ago when I was a kid," Beelow said proudly. "It's a special sauce that we bottle and sell. It's a tangy sauce that's a combination of like 25 different ingredients. It really brings out the flavor and goes with a lot of dishes."
Even though it's a steakhouse, not everyone wants meat. Nor can everyone eat gluten. It's because of that Beelow's has separate vegetarian and gluten-free menus. Most of the vegetarian items are salads or pasta, but the restaurant also offers a roasted bell pepper-topped Portobello burger. The gluten-free menu offers more variety like lobster tail, Beelow's burgers and the Ivanhoe meat raffle beef, which are wood-grilled filet medallions served with a housemade three-cheese sauce whose recipe also goes back to Beelow's childhood. But why have separate menus and not just denote something on the main menu?
"I want someone to come in and have their own menu," Beelow said. "I want them to not feel different from anyone else. It makes you feel more at home."
Beelow's offers 26 craft beers on tap, seven that rotate regularly and get promoted through BeerMenu.com. That draws in customers who see the restaurant added something new they want to try. The wine list features fairly priced bottles and also some more unique boutique wines by the glass to allow people to taste new wines. They offer lunch in Lake Zurich and a happy hour in Highland Park, and both restaurants have all-season patios with retractable roofs, heated floors and removable sides. It's all about offering something to everyone and creating a warm, family-friendly destination.
"We ensure everything is top quality," Beelow said. "We're not letting things slide. There's always an eye kept on the restaurant to make sure everything stays great."
Just as you would expect when your family's reputation is on the line — not to mention the door.
- Author: Ari Bendersky
- Posted: September 29, 2016
- Categories: In Our Communities, VOL 4 - ISSUE 4 • FALL 2016