It was a Saturday night, and somewhat incredulously, I found myself in West Seattle for the third time in as many months. Also beyond belief: I was having dinner at mothertrucking JaK’s Grill. Now I readily admit that my food writing is completely subjective and hopelessly incompetent, but this is only exacerbated by the fact that I’m nowhere near equipped to comment on a steakhouse. I know nothing about steak, and don’t much care to.
Steakhouses have always kind of given me the creeps. They strike me as corporate and testosterone-fueled and completely antiquated – a vestigial appendage of a bygone era when meat and potatoes ruled the school. I went to Morton’s downtown a few years ago and it felt like descending into a circle of Hell, what with all the red leather and Old Money and waitstaff pushing creaking carts of cellophaned meat around the room. It’s all so American. Plus there was that whole decade long stint of pescetarianism, so what use do I have for a steakhouse? This has all left me with a profound underappreciation for cow.
JaK’s is apparently notorious for not taking reservations, but our party didn’t have to wait long before we were seated. I sat in the bar, drinking a not bad glass of Tempranillo and taking in the scene – a pretty slick layout, with dual stories and lots of dark polished wood and booths stretching into infinity. Also, lots of neon (which I am a sucker for). I watched a steady stream of carbon copy orders flow out of the kitchen – plate after plate of steak + potatoes (mashed) + vegetables (two pieces of broccoli, two slices of carrot). An octogenarian couple decided five minutes was too long to wait, and slowly shuffled out the door.
And then, the ordering of the steak. Words: Sirloin, New York strip, filet mignon, ribeye, prime delmonico, 18 oz, 40 oz, dry-aged, rare, medium, etc. (as well as an admonishment on the menu that at JaK’s well-done = medium, medium = rare, and on down the line). So not only were there lots of decisions to be made, but JaK’s Grill was turning the entire concept of cooking steak ON IT’S HEAD. And I know you don’t eat steak to feel good about sustainable food culture or locavore cuisine, but the menu practically challenges you to a dual: “We buy only corn fed, Nebraska raised beef. The finest beef available anywhere!” I’m guessing Japan might have something to say about that.
I sort of dodged a bullet and ordered the special – a tenderloin “bistecca” filet prepared Italian-style in a balsamic vinegar reduction with sliced tomato, shredded basil and some pungent cambozola. And despite all of my reservations, I have to confess that the steak was really, really good. Juicy, flavorful, tender, not fatty or chewy in the least. I guess if steak is your thing, this is the right place to be. A fact borne out by a sample of the pork chop marinated in bourbon and brown sugar with a honey peppercorn glaze. It was stupid sweet, bordering on cloying, essentially inedible. During dinner, all of the entrées were served with the ubiquitous potatoes and vegetables. I went totally off the reservation and ordered potato pancakes, which were a little gummy and cold, but otherwise tasty. The broccoli was nice!
If you’re dying to get your steak on, JaK’s Grill also has locations in Laurelhurst and Issaquah (truly cornering the market on outlying destinations). They also apparently do brunch, and you know what that means? Steak and eggs, people. STEAK AND EGGS.