You will not find a Caesar salad at Jose Garces’s new Argentine steak house, Rural Society. There's no creamed spinach, nor a wedge salad. And though the place offers plenty of juicy, dark-crusted beef, there's not a broiled T-bone in sight.
The Iron Chef is not dissing these classic chophouse offerings. As a born and bred Chicagoan, marbled beef and hash browns practically gallop through his veins. Rural Society is just a different sort of spot. It’s a little sultry. It's sausage-forward. It is slightly obsessed with quail egg. Its vibe is decidedly more Modern Family than Mad Men. But the biggest point of distinction is the fact that the food—matambre tenderloin seared with ash, stuffed pork tenderloin, melt-in-your-mouth Picanha Wagyu and even sturdy root vegetables—is cooked on a custom-designed parrilla that can only be descibed as the the Tesla of open-flamed grills. Cooking over aromatic hardwood (hickory and oak), desde la parrilla is a game changer in the flavor arena. Super high heat locks in juices and imparts smokiness that you just can't get from a standard broiler.
It comes down to this: In a town smothered with top-of-the-line beef joints, Jose Garces has disrupted the steakscape. Chicagoans will come for the carne and come back for the charred Tasmanian trout. The Gaucho sausages. The cha-cha-cha cocktail.