This small, ambitious restaurant in the southwest quadrant of Preston Royal Shopping Center fills an important dining niche in this tony neighborhood: steak. Now that Popolo’s has closed, Al’s is the top spot to go for a quality steak. The menu boasts, “We proudly serve the best from Allen Brothers Meat Company-Chicago”—the same superior meat used by pricier steak joints in town. At Al’s, an 8-ounce filet is $32.95, and that includes a trip to the salad bar. But wait, this isn’t your garden variety salad bar. Al’s version is a small selection of composed salads such as orzo mixed with olives, capers, and celery and a Greek version with hefty slices of tomato combined with chunks of feta in a lemony vinaigrette. Our steak also arrived cooked as ordered, medium rare plus, with a 2-inch square of Lyonnaise potatoes. A huge slab of pan-seared halibut ($26.95) covered with a champagne sauce and crab was served with a side of potato ravioli. The only other item we had to pay for was a Grand Marnier souffle. And a couple of glasses of wine from a ho-hum wine list. A lovely night out for two under $80? That will make a lot of friends in this neighborhood.

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