Friday, May 22, 2009

Steak-ing my claim

Once upon a time, there was a restaurant on Bank Street called Cafe 57. I went there with Noe, Jack, and Mike because someone told us that Cafe 57 had "really good burgers."

Well, perhaps they did have good burgers; however, we found out at dinner that night that they only served said burgers on the lunch menu (which was not specified on their website at the time).

I don't remember what we ended up eating. I guess it must have been OK, but I was in no big rush to get back to Cafe 57.

Fast-forward a year and a half or so. I have a new job (that even after two months I am still sort of in love with) and said new job involves going out for a business dinner with five coworkers on a Monday night.

The parameters: not too pricey (try to stay in the $20 an entree range) and stay in New London.

Right off the bat we had a huge problem. Southeastern CT restaurants don't like to be open on Monday, including pretty much anything I would have chosen. We were going to have to try something new and untested: Steak Out - formerly Cafe 57.

I don't really get the Steak Out/Cafe 57 switch. From what I understand, it's the same people who own the restaurant. They have no done any redecorating. Apparently they just wanted to do an entirely new menu, so they decided to confuse people by closing and re-opening as something entirely different.

Whatever. If the food was good, I was willing to forgive. and forget - and maybe pretend the (lack of) burger incident hadn't happened.

I got to the restaurant before my coworkers and ordered a glass of wine. I appreciate the atmosphere of Steak Out. Although the name implies cheesy western decor, the interior actually has a strange air of sophistication - dark wood and dim lighting, with maroon cushions and a wood and granite bar. It's not new, and it's not modern, but it's cool.

Needless to say, the menu is based primarily on beef. I appreciated the fact that most of the steaks were available in two sizes. I chose a 12-oz New York Strip, medium rare.

Steak Out scored a major point by actually delivering me a medium rare piece of meat. Not rare (although I would rather have someone err on the side of underdone with beef than over done) and not medium - it was the perfect shade of red in the center, pink around the edges, and nicely grilled on the outside (what is it about grill marks on a steak that look so appealing?) In addition, I could tell that this piece of meat did not sit in the window waiting to be brought out because the center was still warm. When I cut into it, warm meat juices rushed out to mingle with the mashed potatoes. Delicious.

Each steak comes with two sides. Despite the stupid name they are given on the menu - "Show Down Sides" - the sides at our table looked quite good. Some asparagus (kind of skinny, but still tasty) and some mashed potatoes rounded out my plate.

I had originally ordered a baked potato, but the kitchen was out, so I went with garlic mashers instead. Normally I leave a huge pile of potatoes sitting on my plate, but I made more headway with these than I normally do. They were delicious. Perfectly whipped with just enough lumps to have that "real" potato texture, they contained amazing but not overpowering garlic flavor.

Service was decent if not spectacular. The waitress was a little confused by one of our party's drink order (apparently Steak Out does not have a Rob Roy on draft - I guess we can forgive her for not knowing what it was; it is kind of an old-fashioned drink) but overall she was very pleasant and our food came out in an orderly fashion.

One note - the glass of Zinfandel I had with my meal tasted like nail polish. PLEASE Steak Out - invest in a vacuum pump to seal your wines that you are pouring by the glass, or taste them every night before you serve them. It was gross, not because the wine itself was disgusting, but it had obviously been open way too long.

Overall, I was very pleased with my meal. I would like to return to Steak Out and try the "fancier" food, but if you're looking for a good, basic cut of meat and some dependably delicious side dishes, Steak Out is a solid bet.

1 comment:

easternct said...

I cannot agree with you more about Steakout. I hear so much empty buzz about the other steak house that just opened; real steak (or bar) lovers come here. Steakout has been our "Guys night out" place for almost a year now. Have yet to have a bad steak there. Agree the menu is cheesy and makes you lower your expectations, but what comes out on the plate is consistently the best quality food in downtown NL.