Oscar’s Prime Rib & Steak House
By John Strother
When I ventured out shopping this past holiday season, with too many gifts to snag and little clue as what they’d be, the odds were that I’d end up at the mall. From one central vantage point I can search for a store that catches my eye and provides some promise of inspiration.
And if it’s a dining conundrum I’m facing, then it’s time to expand my options by heading for a tight cluster of eateries such as the busy Dickson street area or sticking closer to home and visit the restaurant row in Rogers, also known as North 46th Street. The choices abound on this packed avenue with a little something for everyone.
For this last outing it was beef that we searched for and found at Oscar’s Prime Rib & Steak House.
Even though it was early evening, not even six yet, scores of cars were already grouped next to the white alabaster building. Double glass doors underneath a red awning lead into a foyer facing a beautiful and busy gleaming bar. Soft jazz floated through a room accented in dark woods, deep booths and clean lines. The atmosphere borders on elegant, without chasing away family with kids.
A good, chewy, round loaf of bread started us off as we perused the appetizer selection. It’s a fairly eclectic list, ranging from the steak house expectation of Sautéed Mushrooms ($8) to the less anticipated Crabcakes Remulade ($11). We settled on the – as stated on the menu – New Shrimp Santa Fe ($11), five grilled shrimp wrapped in thick slices of bacon and stuffed with zingy pepper jack cheese. They were great dipped in either the spicy chipotle sauce or aioli like cilantro cream sauce that covered each half of the plate.
When we visited an eye catching banner outside the restaurant advertised early bird dinner specials for $12.95, and with a family of five, it was a deal too hard to resist. My initial fear was that we would face chuck steak slathered in gravy, which was thankfully not the case. On our night the bargain choices included a 10 oz cut of Prime Rib, 12 oz Top Sirloin, Marinated Pork Chops, and Grilled Atlantic Salmon.
It is their namesake, and the prime rib was good. A seasoned crust wrapped around butter knife-soft meat. Truth be told, I’m not a prime rib kind of guy, it always seems a tad bland to my taste. But the horseradish sauce and au jus really liven up the meat and the layer of fat was just enough to keep the beef from drying out during the slow roasting process.
The two center cut pork chops are marinated and tossed on the grill. The chops were good, although thick cut charcoaled grilled meats have a tendency to be dry, even if marinated.
The Top Sirloin was served pink, and cooked to perfection. It appears that the same citrus based marinade for the chops was used for the steaks as well, which produced mixed results. It keeps the meat moist, but leaves a tangy taste to the steak. This chophouse menu also includes several top end cuts at very reasonable prices; 10 oz New York Strip ($17), 13 oz Ribeye ($20) or a massive 24 oz Porterhouse (my choice) for $26.
But what about fish? It’s great on the grill as well…as long as it doesn’t stay too long over the fire, which unfortunately the salmon did. A delicate slice of salmon needs to be charred quickly or the meat dries out leaving a strong “canned fish” taste. Not even a nice dill sauce can save the day.
But the meal did end on a sweet note. Among desert offerings such as Apple Pie, Chocolate Cake, and Cashew Crunch Cheesecake, we chose my favorite, a sharable sized Crème Brulee (each of these for $6). The top was a wonderful crunchy crust of caramelized sugar covering a very sweet light custard filling. A nice touch was that the filling was warm, instead of a refrigerated Crème Brulee that gets a quick torched crust before being delivered to the table. Nothing beats a warm custard that melts in your mouth.
From venues to deserts, it was a night full of pleasant choices.