M. Hermann’s steakhouse is restaurateur Tim Shanahan’s newest Forest Park eatery; and it sits on the corner of Randolph Street and Desplaines Avenue, the former home of the blue-collar watering hole, Randolph Street Depot.
Although the 201 Desplaines Ave. restaurant is named after Shanahan’s mother, Mary Hermann, and he has a sizeable financial stake in it, his partner David Knickelbein, a former executive chef at Flavour Cooking School, is the face and voice of the operation. Knickelbein is also the executive chef and general manager of Hermann’s, and he recently discussed the “first restaurant to open in Forest Park in a year” with the Forest Park Review.
Knickelbein described Hermann’s as a “casual steakhouse”; the menu includes prime rib, rib-eye, and New York strip steaks, and also contains pasta dishes and Tuscan-style, thin-crust pizza.
The restaurant, which opened seven weeks ago, went through an arduous remodeling process that took much longer than planned, Knickelbein said.
“We had to replace the entire sewer system, and gut the whole place.” The polished wood remodel includes a 1906 antique Brunswick bar that was taken from a bowling alley in Chicago’s financial district; customers dining alone at the bar get a $5 discount on steak dinners. Barry Sigale, the restaurant’s public relations agent, said it was an effort to make single patrons feel more comfortable about dining solo.
Knickelbein said that his partner conceptualized the interior design. “Tim wanted to restore the space to what it might have been in days gone past.”
Because of the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere, Knickelbein can visit every table, most of which are filled on a nightly basis.
“We walked in and knew everyone in the place,” said diners Bill Heineke and Joanne O’Hara, who dined on a hamburger and a pasta dish last weekend. “We’d been watching the remodeling going on, and it’s walking distance from our house.”
Mondays at Hermann’s are “steak-and-whiskey” nights, featuring Single Malt Whiskeys. Sunday night’s menu features fried chicken and homemade biscuits and gravy. Desserts include chocolate Arborio rice pudding, toffee bread pudding and cider-soaked apple pie. Lunch is served Friday through Sunday and features paninis and salads that are added to the menu.
Knickelbein called the restaurant “fine dining in a casual come-as-you-are atmosphere. [Diners] don’t worry about spilling on tablecloths. We want them to feel like they’re sitting at home at the family dinner table.”
Nick Moroni contributed to this article