I know, I know. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. That's why when a restaurant or a saloon offers a steak-night special, you can't walk in expecting to get the same quality of beef as the Capital Grille or Plaza III or the Majestic Restaurant. On the other hand, you don't want to be sawing into a slab of shoe leather passing itself off as a "ribeye." Those are the cuts of chewy beef, served with a forlorn baked potato, that represent the typical "steak dinner" offered by those truly low-budget buffets. I mean, when the lukewarm wedge of Texas toast is the tastiest thing on the plate, you know you're in trouble.
But not everyone can afford the price of a first-class Kansas City strip, especially in today's economy. There's nothing quite as luscious as Capital Grille's 14-ounce, dry-aged Steak au Poivre with Courvoisier cream sauce, but at $44 — without a potato or a vegetable — it's not a dish you'll be ordering once a week.
But I've had a couple of pretty good cheap steaks lately. Maybe not as well-marbled or succulent as the beef in the high-priced steak joints, but a lot more satisfying than a gourmet burger and fries. The new Woodsweather II Restaurant & Lounge in the Northland (2510 N.E. Vivion Road) offers a really flavorful 10-ounce grilled ribeye topped with Chianti garlic butter for $13.99, and the meal includes a choice of potato and one side dish.
The Shawnee saloon, Garrett's Bar & Grill (it now occupies the space at 6505 Nieman Road formerly known as Skeeters) serves up a steak-dinner special two nights a week, Sundays and Wednesdays; there's a 12-ounce Kansas City strip for $10.99 and a 16-ounce ribeye for $12.99, on those nights, served with a choice of spud, some kind of hot vegetable (not fresh, but what the hell), and a couple of pieces of that creation known as Texas toast. (In case you're wondering, Texas toast is said to have been invented, by necessity, at the Dallas-based Pig Stand restaurant back in 1941 when a bakery sent over loaves sliced too thickly to fit into a traditional toaster. The cook, instead, buttered and grilled the slabs. Culinary history was made.)
Jeff Garrett, who owns the building, took over the business six months ago and started serving weekly specials. The bartenders do double duty here as servers and cooks. "But mostly, Jeff does the cooking," said our server, Jordan, who was also tending bar that night, but not on kitchen duty.
To Garrett's credit, his inexpensive strip was thick and juicy, and if not the most tender I've ever eaten, it was grilled perfectly. There's not much ambience in the place — it's a neighborhood sports bar, not Plaza III — but the staff is super-friendly, and you can meet a lot of interesting people if you go out and smoke on the patio in front of the building.
I know there are other local bars that serve a cheap steak dinner on certain nights of the week. Any recommendations?