Page 2 of 3
What I particularly like about this Range menu is the addition of old-fashioned steakhouse fare, such as a gigantic 22-ounce porterhouse and a 16-ounce chateaubriand for two. The carved filet, named for a 19th-century French statesman, has fallen out of fashion in recent years. (The title refers to the way the beef is roasted, not the cut of the meat.) But for decades, it was a popular example like caviar and cherries jubilee of what rich people supposedly ordered when they dined out.
One doesn't need to be particularly wealthy to dine at The Range, but it's easy to get carried away by starting with a costly appetizer. On the night I dined with Bob and Patrick who were thrilled to come along Bob insisted on having the shrimp cocktail all to himself. Our server, Gus (who was a fixture for years at Farraday's at the Isle of Capri before jumping ship to join the competition), told us that it's the most-requested starter. And it should be. This isn't any ordinary chilled crustacean cocktail but rather a martini glass containing three huge, freshly grilled shrimp, sprinkled with spices and boasting cool stripes of fresh pesto along the spines.
Patrick and I shared the lobster tempura, which would have been sensational if the batter coating the fluffy pieces of lobster tail hadn't been dark, greasy and overfried.
The Range's salad bar, which so delighted me five years ago, hasn't changed a bit and still offers a few accessories rarely seen on garden-variety salad buffets: golf-ball-sized beets, fat artichoke hearts, roasted garlic cloves, huge and tender hearts of palm, thick spears of asparagus and a giant wedge of cheddar cheese.
The corn chips may be history, but servers still bring out a miniature loaf of bread and a ramekin of honey-flavored butter. Bob also claimed these for himself, but it didn't matter because I knew I'd be overwhelmed by my dinner: a sumptuous grilled elk chop prepared "Oscar style," with a mound of lump crab meat in one corner, a stack of asparagus in the other, and a modest puddle of béarnaise under the juicy chop.
I made the mistake of ordering a deflated and puny twice-baked potato instead of the oversized baked spud that came along with Bob's succulent mesquite-grilled strip. After loading up the salt-baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and bacon, he slathered his Kansas City strip with béarnaise and devoured every bite. The steak, he insisted, was as fine as any in those snobbier Plaza steak joints. Patrick might have agreed, but he was too engrossed in gnawing every morsel of meat clinging to the bones of his rack of lamb. "This is the most perfectly prepared lamb I've ever had," he said. And he marveled over his spinach, flash-sautéed with garlic cloves.
After dinner, the siren call of the penny slots nearly lured Patrick away, but Bob wanted to stay for dessert. He considered the pear en croute but decided on The Range's version of the "Chocolate Bag," hoping that it would be like the signature dessert at McCormick & Schmick's. It was not, alas. Yes, it was a dark-chocolate sack filled with white-chocolate mousse, but it was about one-third smaller. Bob finished it in three bites.
Patrick and I took a more leisurely approach to nibbling on The Range's bread pudding, two paperback-sized wedges of the baked bread custard, dripping with caramel-rum sauce. It was an interesting presentation, but it didn't taste remarkable.