Last week Hanna and Chris looked into what makes a great steakhouse happy hour, but armed with an occasion to celebrate and a Monday night on which to do it, I looked into what makes a great steakhouse. I chose one where I had enjoyed the more frugal meals--happy hour and lunch--so I knew going in a little bit about what I'd be in for. What makes a steak house great is, of course, the steak, but it's also so much of what steak stands for and what steakhouses represent: formality in a traditional, masculine, powerful way.
There's something inherently sexy about the decor of a steakhouse, and the Metropolitan Grill creates it with the thick wood trim on every surface and the high, dark-green booths that keep your conversation to yourself. The individual lights on your table, which imply everything is under your control. It is, in a way. Steak is a dish that is all about control. Control the fat in your meat by ordering the right cut, control the cooking by ordering it rare or well-done, control the side dish, with your choice from the long list (though none of the ones we tried was any great shakes, especially compared to the excellent meat).
The meat was amazing. Great steak can be made at home, but superlative flavor like this requires a steakhouse. The true taste of beef, which is so lacking in grocery store meat these days, shouted out from the plate, a result of not just good sourcing, but of the dry-age process. And, as should be expected, the steak was cooked exactly as we requested.
While I sipped on a big, bold red wine (to match the food and the environment), I watched the table next to us receive their entrees. The child got pasta with cheese sauce and the lady a small plate of meat medallions. The gentlemen, however, had a plate twice the size of theirs, and even that was having difficulty containing the platter-sized monstrosity of meat. The bone, about the size of my forearm, stuck out, encroaching on the child's pasta plate across from him. This is what steakhouses are about: the grandiose, the big power, and the big meat.