MK Restaurant Chicago: What Does Quagmire and a Former Beauty Queen Have In Common?


Editor’s Note: This post was written in 2007. We have not visited MK restaurant since that time and they may have greatly improved their service and polices. Please give them a chance and take this review with a grain of salt. We are hoping that they have improved and are now reaping the benefits of growth through experience.

I recently visited my parents in Oak Brook a suburb 22 miles west of downtown Chicago. I came to Chicago because I had not seen my parents in months and I wished to introduce them to my new love interest. During our five day jaunt, I planned one day and evening in Chicago. With Priceline’s help, we snagged a 4 Star luxury hotel suite for less than half the original price at the Westin River North. The room was fantastic and the location was next to the river, the House of Blues, and Harry Carey’s.

Our big treat was a trip to Restaurant MK (Michael Kornick) not far from our new digs. In 2002 I ate at MK and loved every bite and gulp. Fantastic food, huge portions, a electric room and crowd to match. The place oozed New York “It.” Everything was pure pleasure. Then it happened.

Like “Family Guy’s” Quagmire or a former beauty queen past her beautiful stage in life, MK has become clueless to it’s decline. The food still remains a solid bet as it is both tasty and plentiful. But there have been major changes that prevent me from recommending it to anyone.

1. The Staff has the attitude that they are “doing you a favor” by allowing you to dine at THEIR place.

2. The Sommelier constructed his wine list as if Quagmire took over his brain. Too many white wines on the list were from Red winery specialists. Likewise there were red wines on the list from white wine producers who make poor red wines. Add to this weird mix, the fact that there is no value section at all unless you think that a $35 per bottle corkage fee is value? Like a 3rd World country, this list has it’s downtrodden poor and it’s super rich. Consequently unless you are willing to spend $60+ per bottle, very few selections are worthy of the food.

3. The Service and Attitude was both over the top and under the table. The waiter acted like a snooty society snob. He had NO clue about wine or wine etiquette. No restaurant should ever assume that it is their right to pour the wine. They should ask if the patrons would like to control the wine or if the waiter should pour away. At MK they get pissy if you tell them hands off the bottle. The other etiquette breach? They took our bottle off the table and then expected us to wait for our server to go find it to then pour it. That is a terrible idea and one I quickly squashed. The whole issue made for an uncomfortable experience.

At the end of the night, I tipped but it killed me. I was kind of wishing I could pull a dine and dash like the good ole high school days when the local bowling alley guy was too hammered to chase us. But this time I would have been the bowling alley guy and I would have never made it out of my seat.

If you are looking for great food in Chicago try Charlie Trotter’s, Greek Town, most any Steak House, or something eclectic. Just save yourself, and that Brinks roll, and avoid MK for now. Maybe in the future they will wake up to the fact that their beauty is gone and it costs dearly to be a Quagmire!


11 thoughts on “MK Restaurant Chicago: What Does Quagmire and a Former Beauty Queen Have In Common?

  1. Dean – you amaze me! Your blog is becoming one of my favorites. Love the diversity of articles and your style. Who would have thunk it – that quiet fellow in the white shirt and tie in the front row of the RMA meetings is actually an uberBlogger!

  2. John H,

    “uberBlogger” farfuhgnughen! Me with my piddly 4 links and my voice in the woods reach? I thank you for the kind words. I hope people like my stuff as much as you. For now I will have to bow to the feet of the 3 digit link kings like you and Pat and Kevin. Thanks John!


  3. I’d have to agree with John – a very eclectic mix – interesting!

    I’ve eaten at an MK restaurant in Bangkok – but I don’t think there’s a connection other than the name 🙂

  4. Tony,

    Welcome to my menagerie! MK in Chicago is named for the initials of it’s owner and chef-which escapes me at the moment. I am not sure if there is a connection between the two or not?

    Thank you for the compliments!


  5. Dean your a stroke. It’s people like you that make servers and cooks alike grimace when they see you walk through the door. We can smell you by the reek of arrogance. Do not believe for a moment that anyone is impressed your “knowledge” of fine dining. if the server was put off by your request, i’m quite sure it was the manner in which you did. Do not believe in your false hope that your family and friends are impressed, they are not. We are not. Pray that no one shits on your coats or plays with your food beyond the plating process.

  6. Dear Chef Jav,

    The fact remains as reported. Mk restaurant was a failure to what it had been during past visits.

    As for “shitting on coats or food during the plating process”, I have worked with and been around enough restaurant people to know all the “wonderful” things that can be done to a customer.

    The greatest fact of all is the fact that this article NOW SITS #7 ON PAGE 1 OF A GOOGLE SEARCH FOR “MK RESTAURANT CHICAGO” thus warning people about the wait staff’s “shit” attitude during my last visit, mediocre food compared to my prior visits, and the failure of MK to put together a wine list “worthy” of their self ingratiating misguided perceptions of Michelin star grandeur.

    It ain’t braggin if you can do it but in MK’s case they can’t do it anymore.

  7. Chef Jav,

    I have no problem giving you some link love or recognition–nice myspace shot and critique on your talents in Milwaukee.

    If you want to debate the cause of my review then I am up for it. But if your purpose is to vent and you do not work with MK or for the restaurant, then what are you talking about here?

    It’s up to you. With your credentials, and they seem solid, you should be WRITING A BLOG not taking cheap shots on someone else’s blog.

    As for the value of this conversation? I get over 300 readers a day with feedburner subscribers between 28-35. My page views, the number of articles viewed, is over 400 per day.

    I am also a freelance writer with over 30 articles in, Reuters UK, Nielsen, and the Chicago Sun Times.

    I left the software industry as the national account manager to Wells Fargo bank managing $60 million dollars in software licensing and product.

    That’s who I am–Who are you?

  8. Dean,

    I appreciate your blog, but respectfully disagree about MK. I have been many times over the past few years and, like many great places, admit that not all experiences have been stellar. BUT, none of my experiences have ever made the trip to this fabulous restaurant not worth the price. As extremely fine dining goes, MK is both reasonably priced, and casually executed – a plus in my eyes. There are some servers who, upon breaking into the close-knit staff, do wrongfully carry a smug attitude, but it quickly disperses as they realize the owners, patrons, and other staff members are down to earth, friendly, and humble. While you don’t want reds from “white specialty” shops, and vice-versa, I laud MK and the sommoliers for going out on a limb, giving some new bottles a shot, and not following the same trend as Tru, Everest, Blackbird, etc. If you really know your stuff, ask the somm who is on that night to discuss half galsses/pairings/wines off the list/etc – you will be both impressed and surprised by his/her knowledge and accessibility. I recommend you return to give MK its rightful chance to wow you once again, and I recommend to your readers that they give MK a shot to prove why it has remained a local favorite for so many years.


  9. MB,

    I am from San Francisco and frankly Chicago on a whole has some great food selections. But if we are talking fine dining, then I can’t recommend MK.

    The prices were pricey. I am a restaurant fan for the last 30 yrs having worked in and eaten in some of the best in the country.

    Forgetting the bad attitude, the poorly constructed wine list, and the most offensive act of all-taking my bottle off the table for me to search for my waiter just so I may enjoy my wine at my pace. . .

    All of that aside, here is why I think MK is not worth the cost:

    1. Aqua; Boulevard; French Laundry; 5th Floor; Michael Minna; Slanted Door; Gary Danko; Terzo; Fleur de Lys; Masa’s; Lark Creek Inn; Postrio; Jardiniere; Tra Vigne; Quince; Terra; La Toque; Ritz-Carlton; Cafe Kati; House; Chez Panisse; Harris Steakhouse; Greens; Ubuntu; Limon; Yank Sing; Bistro Ralph; Dry Creek Kitchen; Jack Falstaff; Rubicon with Larry Stone; Plump Jack Cafe; bacar; Myth; Domaine Chandon; Kokkari Estiatorio; Martini House; Bistro Jeanty; Farallon; Auberge du Soleil; Red; Stars back in the day and so on.

    I have eaten at them all and this is the standard my money deserves when I am looking to drop serious coin.

    MK does not hold up against any of these restaurants in my opinion and based on my 30 yrs of experience both working for and eating at “destination” spots like this list.

    Come out to SF and you will get a renewed perspective of what you should receive when going out.

    Thanks for the comment!


  10. I just came back from dinner at mk, and I thought it was outstanding! I failed to see the outright pretentiousness that you said staff just oozes. In fact this may have been one of the best dining experiences i have had in years. I will definitely be going back, maybe you should too?

  11. Hey Doc,

    I have been to MK 3 times. First visit was good. Second was alright but not worth the freight. Third was a disaster.

    Where else have you eaten? I live in the culinary capital, outside of NYC, in America San Francisco. Take a look at the list I mention above. If you know your restaurants and have eaten at the best then you will understand.

    It’s all about perspective but remember it’s your money–my money eats somewhere else than MK.


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