Cheap meat is a little like a dive bar: the closer to home, the better it is. Take a 20 minute drive to a dive bar and you're going "So what?" Yet the one on your block is the greatest one ever. The same is true of discounted steak dinner. As I've written before, there's something alluring about the strong, luxurious, masculinity of a great steakhouse, a sexiness that enhances the experience, if not necessarily the flavor. So steak night at a bland neighborhood bistro is good for a last-minute meat craving, but it's not bridge-crossingly tempting. The lure of terrific meat in a luxe setting doesn't exist at Fresh Bistro, though the low price and half-off bottles of wine don't hurt.
$15 of steak buys you a very pretty ten ounces of Wagyu (their term) New York Strip at Fresh Bistro. It came lonely, unadorned. Not quite big enough to play checkers on, but you certainly could have played tic-tac-toe on the criss-cross of grill marks. Like an online dating profile picture, though, looks were deceiving. The flavor wasn't quite as strong as I had hoped, though it was precisely cooked to the requested medium rare. Having chosen demi-glace over béarnaise for my sauce, there just wasn't quite enough to make up for the dryness and blandness of the meat.
For a restaurant priding itself on freshness, the button mushrooms or heavy steakhouse sides seemed like the wrong choice. So, even having come for the Monday night menu, I veered onto the everyday menu for a bright, grilled Caesar salad topped with Spanish white anchovies. It came as a first course, and now my steak was on its own. Despite traveling to try steak, my dining partner was swayed by Chicken and Ribs to the main menu, and his piles of side dishes were making me swoon.
The meal deal offers three choices of steak for $15 each, and an array of steakhouse side dishes for $5 a piece. An enticing deal at a restaurant I'd had good experiences at in the past: perhaps my expectations were too high. Tempted by thoughts of a knife cutting through a juicy piece of meat, watching those last bits of flavor drip onto the plate... I was disappointed when I got just what I paid for, having crossed town to try it. If Fresh Bistro were my neighborhood bistro, though, well, it's good enough for that.