Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Beef Connection

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m preparing to hibernate for the winter or a lack of iron, but I have been craving a nice, juicy steak lately.  Images of a thick, medium-rare filet that yields easily to a knife have been pervading my dreams and even my waking thoughts and I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.  Although I know of many different steakhouses in the city, I asked around for a casual establishment where I could get a really incredible steak and one of my co-workers mentioned The Beef Connection in Gretna.  She had never been there herself, but her friend had raved how the filets were “like buttah” and I decided to give it a try.  This is my 14th week and my 14th cheat and I am down 43 pounds.

The name of the restaurant sent my other co-workers into giggling fits (the film The Breakfast Club comes to mind), and though it was amusing, it did not deter me in my quest for a mouth-watering steak.  John and I headed over to the Westbank to brave the name and risk the unknown. We arrived at the restaurant at around 7:30 p.m. and were surprised to find that half of the dining room was filled with people gathering for some sort of club.  The hostess led us to a table on the opposite side of the dining room and our waitress came immediately to take our drink order.

Looking around, I couldn’t help feeling that I had stepped back into the 70’s.  The dining room was decorated with peeling floral wallpaper and one wall sported floor to ceiling mirrors that were old and damaged. I’m not a stickler for perfect surroundings but this establishment is due for an update.

Browsing the menu at a steakhouse is always difficult.  I know I want a small filet but do I want an appetizer or a side dish?  It seems that many steakhouses are highly adept at grilling the perfect cut of meat but then their side dishes suffer serious neglect.  John and I, being the brave diners we are, ordered a fried calamari appetizer and two sides to share: Lyonnaise Potatoes and Asparagus Gratin.

In a timely manner, our fried calamari arrived with some clarified garlic butter for dipping.  The calamari was tender and the batter was spiced well and crunchy, but I think I should have requested a different dipping sauce.  The combination of the fried calamari and butter made the dish a little too oily and I would have preferred a good tartar sauce or marinara.  I can only blame myself for not asking.

Our sizzling “small” filets came out next served on extremely hot plates weighing in at what I would estimate to be easily over eight ounces.  I wonder what the large filets weigh!  Cooked medium-rare, the perfectly grilled filets were most definitely “like buttah” and each bite I took practically melted in my mouth.  John and I agreed, heads wagging and mouths full, that the steaks were absolutely perfect.

The side dishes had come out along with our steaks and were easily large enough for two servings.  If you don’t already know, Lyonnaise Potatoes is a fancy way of saying “potatoes sautéed with onion” and regardless of the simplicity of the dish, it was quite tasty.  Unfortunately, the asparagus used in the gratin was obviously canned and ruined the dish.  I realize asparagus is not quite in season until February, but I would rather it wasn’t on the menu instead of substituting fresh ingredients.

As you all know, I couldn’t leave the restaurant without sampling a dessert so John and I ordered the Crème Brule Cheesecake and some coffee.  Our order came out quickly and I found the cheesecake to be okay, although I believe it was store-bought.  The “Crème Brule” topping should have been crunchy, but instead it seemed a little chewy (probably due to refrigeration).

Walking away from The Beef Connection, my boyfriend and I were definitely satiated and highly pleased with our fabulous steaks and friendly service.  I believe that this restaurant could be improved greatly with just a little redecorating along with a commitment to fresh ingredients when it comes to sides and desserts.  But, if you seek a fantastic steak at a reasonable price, I would not hesitate recommending The Beef Connection...just try not to giggle at the name!

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