3 Ways to Identify a Great Steak House

The other night, my good friend and colleague Reg treated me to a fancy steak dinner at the Metropolitan Grill, one of Seattle's oldest and most masculine restaurants I had never heard about before last week. Steak houses aren't really on my radar, so I accepted the invite not realizing what I had coming. I ended up with a delicious meal and a crash course in the trimmings of steak house greatness.

Basically, I'm an expert now. So I can tell you a steak house is great if:

Do you even need menu?
1. There's a display case of cuts in the entry.   You know how bakeries display pies and cakes? A good steak house will show you what their meat looks like. In case you had any question about what you're here for or what it looks like. The display ought to be sparse- no frills, no garnish, unevenly distributed cuts even. Because frills are for Outback and just like good steak doesn't need steak sauce, a good raw meat display needs only a slab of beef and a golden sign describing it. "Filet" says it all, doesn't it?

Aged and clean
2. High booths and a color palette that won't clash with the whiskey.
Doesn't this look just lush? It just screams "expense account" or "high end crime" (not to be confused with the fancy Chinese and Italian restaurant mafia crime vibe). Mahogany (or whatever nice deep reddish brown wood that is), class, and deep, moss green upholstery. Green curtains go great with whiskey.

Here, Vaughn dresses my full loaded baked potato right at our table
3. Waiters dress in butchers coats (or tuxedos).
At first I thought they were chef's coats and thought that was a clever way to show you they meant business. Because a restaurant with no waiters, just chefs bussing tables and recommending meals must be full of only amazing food. When I realized the coats were classic Butcher's coats, it clicked again. It's not about the cooking - the chefery - it's about the meat. And who knows meat better than the butcher himself. But in a world where butchers don't live in restaurants, we have to settle for men dressed as butchers, who, presumably know just as much about Filets and have less blood on them. And they are named things like Colton or Clayton - names that are somehow both a rugged cowboy in from the range and a high class Englishman, the kind you call by their last name in the way that makes you think it's their first name (what was that all about anyway. Did Darcy even have a first name?)

Back ups (bussers, I assume, or those who have not earned their whites) dress in tuxedos. They were almost swarming our restaurant, doing what looked like nothing important, but making me feel like I should tip better in the presence of such fine attire.

Who are we kidding, I didn't pay for the tip. I cringed at the $11 I paid for parking. Which is why fine establishments like these are such fodder for my curiosity.

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