Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wouldn’t You Know . . .

that on a day when we found perfect french fries, I ordered the salad.

After our morning touring the Jelly Belly factory (I broke down and bought a pound of the Sizzling Assortment which included, along with others, chili mango and sizzling cinnamon jelly beans), it was time to head off for lunch. Barbara had seen ads for a new restaurant--Peter’s Steakhouse--in Isleton, CA (population 828) which is only five miles from her home in Rio Vista.

The restaurant is owned by Peter Low who “…came to Isleton in 1981 from the southern part of Canton, China when he was 20 years old. He washed dishes at the Del Rio Hotel – eventually becoming a cook, and has worked at the Del Rio for 18 years… Peter and his wife Yee have been married for 27 years. Yee has always worked alongside her husband and helped at the Del Rio for eight years.” (This and other information regarding Mr. Low and the restaurant are from the River News Herald.) The Del Rio (two doors down the street from Peter’s) is now closed, but fans of his “steak expertise and prime rib” have only a short distance to travel to enjoy their favorites.

“Peter’s steakhouse is a work of art. The 6,800 square foot dining area features a full-bar and luxurious seating for 135 downstairs. An upstairs banquet hall and a large deck overlook the Delta and Main Street…The steakhouse’s building used to be a hub for workers in Isleton to report to work. It was also a company storeroom, and was eventually a hardware store.” The large downstairs dining area is painted a soft taupe and two rows of thin columns running from front to back visually “break” the space and make the room appear more intimate. The cook (not Mr. Lee) appeared just as I snapped the photo.

The lunch menu is not long and includes a prime rib dip au jus, a prime rib sandwich, a prime rib sandwich with cheese, a New York steak sandwich, and a hamburger. For non-beef eaters, there is a chicken sandwich, a fried fish sandwich, and fish and chips. And for non-carnivores, Peter’s offers fettuccine alfredo.

All three of us went the beef route that day. Barbara’s choice was the dip au jus sandwich that came loaded with thinly sliced, tender, and flavorful prime rib. The au jus tasted as if it had been made with the pan sauces rather than compressed cubes of beef substitute or canned broth and therefore was missing the harsh, overly salty, and chemical flavor.

Chuck’s lunch was the prime rib sandwich with fries. Since he neglected to specify his preferred degree of doneness, it came medium well which appears to be the restaurant industry standard. How was it? I don’t know. It disappeared faster than David Copper-field can make a tiger disappear. I never got the opportunity to taste it. But when interviewed later by this intrepid reporter, he reported that “it was tender and very good.”

My choice was the New York strip sandwich which I requested medium rare. It was perfect. The exterior had been well seasoned and had a nice crust from the grill. The meat was tender and juicy and the creamy horseradish that I slathered on my roll (I was the only one of the three to partake in the horseradish) gave the meal real steakhouse flavor.

My choice of side was a small salad with bleu cheese dressing. The greens were crisp, the tomato was ripe, and the dressing had the right amount of tangy bleu cheese chunks. What a mistake I made. The fries that came with Barbara and Chuck’s sandwiches were the ideal steakhouse fries. I am not usually a fan of steak fries because they are seldom as crisp as I would like. But these were wonderfully crisp with steamy, moist, and meaty centers. I did manage to sneak a few from Chuck’s plate, but then he got wise to my sneaky maneuvers.

While I was outside smoking, oops - we’ll just say that I was outside when Barbara and Chuck sneaked a look at the dinner menu. While beef choices predominated, like the lunch menu there was enough variety to satisfy everyone. With our best wishes to Peter and Yee Low, we give Peter’s Steakhouse our ultimate 5.0 Addie rating.

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