Beck's Steaks & Seafood, Newark
Recently I gave Beck's a try because I'd heard the prime rib was good. Sadly, it didn't occur to me that the prime rib might be weekends only and I was there on the wrong night. Anyhow, I flipped for a T-bone steak dinner. The homemade minestrone was fresh and zesty with a tomatoe-y broth, lots of chopped chard, and mushy pasta shells. This was topped ith some grated parmesan. The bread was served warm, and though it wasn't anything remarkable, this was a nice touch. The 16+ ounce steak was $17.99 and came with a choice of starch and some side veggies. It was as rare as ordered, but oddly was burnt on the tail end with bitter carbonization. The meat was quite tender but not that rich in flavor. The side veggies, sauteed with olive oil, garlic and oregano, were too hard, al dente gone wrong. This meal was pretty average in my book, but well-priced and I didn't feel ripped off. The leftovers made a good lunch later. I had a glass of 2003 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, $6.25, that had all the fat, overripeness and chocolate that I tend to dislike from that area. But it's a people-pleasing style of wine and a good example of type.
I went there with a group of friends last weekend. We'd intended to go to Claim Jumper (a chain, the horror! But we like the cake) which just opened in Fremont but the wait at 6:00 pm for this cavernous new place was 3 hours. Someone suggested Beck's and we drove over and were seated right away, with hot french bread and butter on our table within seconds of sitting down. I shared the "Truck Driver" with a friend, a 2 pound top sirloin cooked to the requested medium rare with a nice char on the outside. The server split everything in the kitchen, including the special (on Fridays) clam chowder (a less creamy brothy version with a nice taste of celery as well as clams) and we were charged a splitting fee of $2, extremely insignificant considering the whole dinner was only $21.99. Others at the table had chicken marsala, prime rib, & New York steak. We also tried the fried zucchini (fresh spears instead of the "coin" slices) & fried calamari (rubbery forgettable rings).
Well drinks from the bar are only $3.50, and bottled beer is the same price. We didn't look at the wine list. Total for six people was $114 before tip with five entrees, two appetizers, one beer, one drink, and one soda. Service was great, very friendly. Bread, water refills, butter, horseradish, etc. were all brought promptly before we even asked for them.
You might not be getting the best steak there, but the quality overall is pretty good and we enjoyed our meal there. I'll definitely go back.
Further to our recent discussion about wine pricing in restaurants, the featured red, 2003 Justin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, was priced at straight retail and the glass price was 1/4 of that. It's big brother Bordeaux blend, 2002 Isosceles is $75, or only $20 over undiscounted retail price. That's a lot less than the $90-125 that other restaurants are charging.
The list is not exciting, almost exclusively large California producers (e.g., Clos du Bois, Mondavi, Carmenet), but at good prices. If I were picking a white wine, I probably would have ordered the Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc at $5 per glass. It was refreshing to see bottles priced under $20 and adds to the all-over reasonableness of eating here.