LA GRANGE – The restaurant business is in La Grange resident Nick Gangas's blood.
His father, George, had operated two restaurants in La Grange – InCahoots and Cally's – so when he was thinking about opening his own restaurant, Gangas knew what he wanted to do.
"The whole purpose was to really just provide a community restaurant where people can enjoy straightforward American fare with always the best ingredients," said Gangas, 53. "We bill ourselves as a neighborhood steakhouse."
In July 2016, Steak + Vine opened at 37 S. La Grange Road in downtown La Grange. Gangas's business partner and lifelong friend, Mike Wilson, was a corporate chef for Morton's Steakhouse, and he and his wife have owned Michaels Key West Restaurant in Key West, Fla., for the past 20 years. Gangas also has an extensive restaurant background, including working at his family's restaurants, along with being the general manager of two other restaurants.
More and more people continue to discover Steak + Vine, Gangas said.
"We've definitely been growing," he said. "Not counting December, April was our second best month we've ever had. We're still getting the word out. We still get people coming in on a daily basis saying, 'I live three blocks away, and this is my first time here.'"
The restaurant is open for dinner seven days a week and also serves a Sunday brunch. As its name implies, Steak + Vine's focus is on steak and wine.
And the restaurant only serves the finest meats.
"Our steaks are prime," Gangas said. "The top 2 percent of all meat is graded prime. It's a significant difference."
The restaurant offers more than 100 bottles of wine, including 18 by the glass. In addition, it carries more than 80 whiskeys, bourbons and scotches, along with 40 beers and ciders.
"We're very big on whatever we can do locally," Gangas said. "We've always felt that the more local, the better."
That includes serving ice cream from Tates Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop in La Grange. In addition, the restaurant's carrot cake and flour-less chocolate cake are made by two high school students – Ivy and Mazzy Marcucci from Riverside, who are known as the Sugar Sisters.
"It turned out to be a great idea," he said. "They're very popular."
Steak + Vine's chef, Alfonso Castillo, has an extensive resume, including stints at Reel Club at Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook and Weber Grill Restaurant. Those not in the mood for steak can choose from a number of other items on the menu, including salmon, shrimp and grits, yellowfin tuna, braised short ribs and the cabin burger.
"We do a great burger, a 10-ounce burger," Gangas said. "The shrimp and grits is our No. 1 fan favorite. It's just delicious. We use Key West pink shrimp, which makes it a little bit different. There is a New Orleans barbecue sauce on it, which I think is the other secret ingredient."
He is partial to the Ora King salmon on the menu.
"We cook it on cedar plank with a grainy mustard vinaigrette," he said. "It's absolutely fantastic. Everybody adores it. And the wagyu hanger steak is my favorite steak. It's just a very flavorful piece of meat and my personal favorite."
Steak + Vine's Sunday brunch is filled with items guests might not typically see on a Sunday brunch menu, including chicken and waffles and pound cake French toast.
"We thought brunch was something that we could do different than from what everybody else was doing and put our own unique spin on it," Gangas said. "We do a French toast made with pound cake with homemade strawberry jam. It's delicious. We also do a chicken waffle that is a little bit spicy, along with short rib hash."
If you go
What: Steak + Vine
Where: 37 S. La Grange Road, La Grange
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays
Info: 708-579-0520; steakandvine.com