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Steak and Ale

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  • sandlapper Jul 5, 2005 11:57 AM

For the first time in quite a while, my wife and I wound up at our local Steak & Ale for dinner on Saturday evening (we had started out to a new, local place which as it turned out was closed for the July 4th weekend).
Anyway, I had the Kensington Club (their signature marinated sirloin) and my wife had the 6oz Filet Mignon. These were undoubtably the worst, flavorless steaks we had ever eaten. They were almost like steaks that were frozen and prepared in a microwave!
I continually put salt and pepper on mine trying to add flavor, but to no avail.
What's with Steak & Ale? Have they really fallen that far down? It was a long time since we were there but won't be going back. Absolutely AWFUL!!!!!
Anyone had any similar experience?

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  1. Is that one of those chains in the NE? Like Brew & Burger or Beefsteak Charlies? I remember them from the 1960's and 1970's. Only good thing about them then was "all the beer, wine and sangria you can drink" with your dinner. They cut that out a long time ago.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 2chez mike

      Steak & Ale is a small chain; I thought they were nationwide, but looks like their locations are scattered.
      An "all you can drink" feature might be good for them. If you have enough to drink you may not care that the steak is crappy!!!!!

    2. I ate at one in Bethlehem PA last Christmas and it was awful. they were never great, but now they are terrible.

      1. Do they still have the salad bar and that lovely dark "Ye Olde England" theme?

        1 Reply
        1. re: deibu

          The one in Tulsa does, both the darker England theme and the salad bar. Haven't been there in years, but they are running a nice prime rib special on the off nights, so we're going to go give them a try.

        2. In college they were good for exactly one thing.

          Post party, pre-hangover late night grease.

          I am sure the food would not stand up to the light of day, but just before dawn it worked.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Tugboat

            Weird, the only one in my home town in Georgia closed at normal hours, like by 11 PM. There are late night ones?

            1. re: Dax

              Dax,
              I think Tugboat must be thinking about "Steak and Shake".

              1. re: sandlapper

                Also, where I grew up (SE Texas), Steak and Ale was a prom night place, all fancy and all, and you had to drive to a big city like Beaumont Texas to eat there.

                1. re: sandlapper

                  There was a Steak and Ale in Baltimore that was open all night.

                  1. re: Tugboat

                    So, if you wanted a filet at 3 AM, that's where you went?

                    1. re: Fibber McGee

                      Steak & Ale provided me with one of my most memorable worst jobs ever! While in college, I was briefly a cocktail waitress at their location in Scotch Plains NJ. They made you wear these very short plaid bar"maidy" outfits. I had just completed all of my sidework, and I went up to the bar to get a glass of water, the bar manager was a real witch, she snarled at me, and yelled, what are you doing standing around here?! Get to work! It was right before a busy Friday night was about to begin... I said "please don't speak that way to me again" She became even more angry. I said "you won't have the chance to speak with me again, I quit" I tossed my little apron on the bar and walked out never to return.

                      1. re: michele cindy

                        I worked at the Canadian branch of Steak and Ale restaurants (which was called the Three Crowns, but had the same faux English theme with fake horse brasses, etc.) As you noted, the waitresses at lunch had to wear a tarty-looking uniform that was fairly low-cut, and cinched just below the breasts to embellish whatever assets the young lady (and they were all young..) had.

                        They seemed to specialize in hiring martinets for managers. One guy in particular made it point when hiring you to tell you - "I can find a hundred people to wait tables in one day. It doesn't matter how well you do your job; what matters is whether I like you."

                        Not surprisingly, one night, three of the waiters came in late at night wearing masks, put this guy into a couple of laundry bags, tossed him in the trunk of their car, and drove him a few miles north into the farmers' fields that surrounded Toronto at the time. They left him there, tied up, and skedaddled. He came in the next day, quite subdued, and transferred to a US location just a few months later.

                        1. re: KevinB

                          That's great! Too bad my bar person didn't work at your location, she deserved the same treatment.

            2. I haven't been in years (there's not one where I live now), but I can't believe no one has mentioned that wonderfully delicious brown bread they serve before the meal. People always said you could go buy bread from them to take home, but I never did... now I'm nowhere near one. Sigh.

              Seems like the atmosphere must have varied pretty greatly between locations. The one in my hometown wasn't open late, did have the Olde English theme, but I don't recall anyone having to wear anything "bar-maidy", although I think they had English-themed uniforms. Now I can't remember. But, considering it was a popular place for the 5pm Early Bird "seniors", I don't think the wench attire would have gone over well.

              1 Reply
              1. re: stephanieh

                their brown bread is probably the honey wheat loaves. i found them at many grocery stores before. just try your local grocery store.

              2. WOW! I have not eaten at a Steak and Ale in years. However, my experieces do not mirror any of the previous responses. I lived in Springfield, Missouri for five years. My family and I ate frequently at the local Steak and Ale. The restaurant was always a great dining experience. It was more of an upscale dining experience. The first time my family ate there it was a bit intimidating when we pulled into the parking lot. We had our minivan and the building was surrounded with Mercedes, Lexus, Lincolns, etc.. When walked in we were greeted by the hostess and I knew immediately that this was no "stab em and slab em joint". After a short wait we were seated and the servers, both male and female, who were nicely clothed were very courteous and professional. Until we moved from Springfield in 2000 there was not one bad dining experience. I do not know what they are like now because I have visited there once since we moved. I only hope they have not digressed to point that most of the respondents have described.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ricbug

                  I believe they are all gone for good now, just like Bennigan's.

                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                    when did bennigans close for good?

                    1. re: biga290

                      The corporate-owned Bennigans locations closed; the franchised outlets remain open.

                      1. re: swissgirl

                        Back in the 70s Steak & Ale was awesome. My family lived in Charlotte, NC, when I was 8, 9, 10. Remember dad taking business clients and the family for dinner. First chain to do a salad bar is I recall. And it was super good.

                        Last time I ate in one had to have been 6+ years ago in downtown Atlanta. It was horrendous.

                    2. re: Fibber McGee

                      ...and no loss, either.
                      Both establishments typified the worst things about prefab chain food (and if it wasn't prefab, they did a great job of making it seem like it was).