A Taste

(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)

Steakhouse debate

Baker Street knows the answer

By Connie Haas Zuber
Once the menus are opened and people start planning what to order at Baker Street, the conversation we can think of as The Eternal Steakhouse Debate inevitably begins.

Someone will rhapsodize about how good the filet will be while considering how big a filet to order. Someone else will pooh-pooh filet and declare the strip steak to have the best flavor. And the ribeye guy will disagree with that and explain how the ribeye’s superior marbeling gives it the best flavor. Luckily, this debate never ends in gridlock because at Baker Street (unlike in Washington) all guests get what they want.

Baker Street Executive Chef Chad Kyle makes sure of it. While he never gets bored cooking another steak, he said, he does admit to being a strip steak fan himself. To his palate, a ribeye can actually taste too much of its marbelling, and a filet, while delectably tender, needs a sauce.

“I think our bordelaise sauce is an amazing complement to a steak,” he said. The lilting French name designates what he admits is “sort of a fancy gravy but everyone knows and loves a good gravy.”

Bordelaise sauce, unlike gravy, is one of the more complex things made in the kitchen at Baker Street. The sauce begins with beef bones that are used to make lots of beef stock. Lots of beef stock is then reduced (with additional ingredients) “to create a real deep, deep almost coffee- or chocolate–like flavor that has a lot of things you can’t identify anymore on your tongue, but it’s there and it’s just amazing. To pair that up with a steak, really that’s magical.”

Baker Street is a from-scratch kitchen, though, so Kyle and his kitchen crew know every step of the way to the amazing finish.

“What don’t we do that’s amazing,” he quips and then explains.

“That’s what we are trying to do. We don’t want any little thing to to slip; we want everything to be of the highest quality with the best presentation possible. The majority of our guests are coming here as a celebration, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we are meeting those expectations.”

For Kyle, a Fort Wayne native and 1994 North Side High School graduate, cooking has always been his job. His on-the-job training happened right here at places including Ernie’s Steakhouse and the Trolley Bar.

“The job part of it is cooking day in and day out,” he said, “the fun part is the creative.” He admits he’d have trouble coming up with ideas if he just sat down by himself and tried to think of what to cook, but “as a group if we tell ourselves we want to do a South American or Mexican-themed dinner or French or whatever, ideas just spill out of me at that point.”

Creative experiments that score big with customers end up on Baker Street’s constantly evolving menu, he said. Cedar-planked salmon is a recent example. It is served with stir-fried vegetables and a teriyaki aioli.

Appetizers are constantly evolving, too, he said, though he is pretty sure he’ll never be able to remove the extremely popular Smoked Gouda and Crab Dip from the menu because the customers would revolt. Recent appetizer offerings include Arancini (risotto balls stuffed with smoked ham and smoked mozzarella, lightly breaded and fried) and tuna nachos.

Meats all come from Fort Wayne’s Didier Meats, he said, “because it’s important to us to keep things as local as possible and help support our community. We’re proud to do as much locally as possible.”

As an executive chef, Kyle is now returning the favors, so to speak, given him by the chefs who taught him.

“I like to nurture the staff,” he said. “I don’t want to act like I’m superior and know all things because I’m certainly still learning on a daily basis.”

One of his favorite ways to learn is to read cookbooks written by other chefs (he thinks his wife actually worries a little that cookbooks are all he reads). Lately, he has been revisiting Chicago chef Rick Bayless’s contemporary Mexican-inspired books, he said.

“I love Mexican and Southwestern-style foods,” Kyle said. “I had the opportunity this summer to eat at one of his restaurants, and I’ve been kind of hooked on him recently.”

Posted: Wed, 01/23/2013 - 2:10 pm
Last updated: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:45 pm