You have to love any restaurant that offers, as a vegetable
selection, Jell-O with whipped cream. That's my kind of vegetable! At the family-owned Frontier Steakhouse at 94th and State Avenue, Jell-O is listed along with onion rings, loaded baked potato, the vegetable of the day and cole slaw under the "Extras" categories. The Frontier turned 50 this year -- in 1960, the restaurant wasn't much larger than a tiny bungalow on State Avenue -- and the kind of home cooking it serves evokes the restaurant fare that was so popular back when I Love Lucy
was still running in prime time.
|Baked potato or Jello with whipped cream? A tough call|
The Laffoon family has run the restaurant for five decades. Mary Laffoon -- who turns 90 years old in September -- continues to make the salad dressings and pies (really superb pies, by the way). The steakhouse is run by Mary's son Dennis Laffoon, who also plays keyboards on Wednesday nights when the house band, the Hole in the Wall Gang, plays the main dining room; Dennis Laffoon's brother Ron plays bass.
The menu isn't complicated: sandwiches and salads, modestly priced steak dinners (a 6-ounce filet dinner goes for $12.99), fried chicken, fried catfish, pork chops -- and prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sunday nights, the restaurant offers a turkey special: roasted Tom turkey with Mom's homemade dressing, cranberry sauce, a choice of potato, vegetable and roll.
It's not a fancy joint. The napkins are paper, the beverages are served in plastic tumblers and Tuesdays are Biker Nights on the patio. But there aren't many restaurants left that still serve homemade gooseberry pie. After half a century, the Frontier Steakhouse is still going strong.