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Somewhere between Capitol Grille and Outback Steakhouse is the steak of my dreams

I want to give a restaurant gift certificate to someone who loves steak. She and her husband live in Melrose, so western suburbs or the city would be best. I want something less expensive than Capitol Grille but waaayyy better than Outback and its ilk. So far, the only thing I can think of - and yeah, it's not a steakhouse, I know, but it's got good meat - is Tango, in Arlington. Please, suggest some stuff! (and I know I cited two chains, but that's only for purposes of illustration - bonus points always awarded for non-chain ideas!)

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  1. How about Frank's Steakhouse in Cambridge? If you call before you visit, they will have your requested cut waiting. . .

    1 Reply
    1. re: phonelady

      No, no, no. I can't disagree more. Unfortunately, I can't recommend a great steak place, but please don't go to Frank's. To illustrate my point, take this into account: I have lived <300ft from Frank's for three years and have been to eat there twice. The first time was bad, but I gave it a second shot, considering how close it is. I wanted it to be my local joint. The second time was worse. It can't even be my local bar because they tried to pass off a Harpoon as a Sam when they were out (rather than tell me, and really what Boston bar runs out of Sam?). And the Harpoon? It was flat. Save Frank's for when you're over 70, that's their market.

    2. All the restaurants that serve streak frites or hangar steak would work. Not sure who's in the western suburbs tho, Aquitaine Bis in Chestnut Hill is slightly west.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Joanie

        Franks, great place, moderate prices.

        1. re: treb

          I went there once and thought my steak was horrible. Worst steak ever

          1. re: SALee

            Gotta agree- the one time I've been there they failed to cook my steak anywhere near correctly - burnt on outside, lukewarm and raw on inside. Made ok leftovers at home.

            What's the name of the place up Mass. Ave. in Arlington that does bang-up business that seems sort of the same genre as Frank's? Can't think of the name, but can folks weigh in?

            What about the place on Mt. Auburn just past Belmont Street? Same type of place, too, no?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Bob D you probably mean Jimmy's Steer House on Mass Ave in Arlington (between the Center and the Heights), which I understand used to have the only liquor license in town and which is kind of a time warp kind of place. It's not my favorite but I have friends who swear by it if you stick to steak, baked potato and salad with blue cheese.

              1. re: GretchenS

                Thanks Gretchen - Jimmy's is the place I was thinking of.
                Any idea how it compares to Frank's?

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I enjoy Jimmy's (also in Saugus, formerly on the Waterfront and at the Burlington Mall) and I consider it a lot better than Franks. One thing they do particularly well is their Crabmeat Pie, often offered as a surf and turf with a strip steak at lunch. Strip steaks and other steaks are decent, their steak tips are quite nice (tangy, not sweet) and some baked stuffed dishes are ok (fish/scallops). As far as the sides, its their rice pilaf which is worth ordering, not the baked potato. And the parmesan peppercorn is better than blue cheese, but at lunchtime its really not worth the extra $$ for a side salad (with dinner its included). Yes its filled with retirees, no bone-in steaks, and many cliched things on the menu, but for that type of food I think its much better than Franks.

                  The other place you are mentioning above is Greg's, which is more of an Italian Red Sauce place -- veal parm, fried ravioli, sweet thick tomato sauces... large portions. Its a bit closer to Franks in atmosphere and is ok for what it is, but there are other restaurants I would prefer to go to first (Il Panino express, abbondanza, pasta lina's, vinny's, pescatore).

                  I wish there was something which was more along the lines of Bambino's (which had its defects), Floramo's in Chelsea is probably the closest in that style, but avoid the ribs. And I did quite well with the Sicilian Steak at Ferrari's in Malden, but I know others have had awful meals there.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      I would agree with you on Jimmy;s= love their crab meat pie and their rice pilaf. I have a relatice who works there, and I aksed her why the rice was so good- she said lots and lots of butter! It is more like a risotto than a pilaf. Their fish is good too.
                      Haven't been to Floramos in years- and I will not comment on Ferrari's- have only been there once, and my meal and the service-was awful. But if you enjoyed the Sicilian steak, maybe I should give it a try

        2. How about Max Steins in Lexington? Have not been but sounds decent

          2 Replies
          1. re: hargau

            Nah, just as pricey as the Capitol Grille, and not as good, IMO. L'Andana Grill in Burlington has a skirt steak for $28, If that counts as cheaper, it might fill the bill.

            1. re: raddoc

              $28 for skirt steak, a/k/a fahita material, cheaper, are you serious? Go to CG for an extra fiver+/- and get a great meal.

          2. Stockyard in Brighton has great steak and the prime rib is awesome. Nice atmosphere, big bar and good prices. Worth the drive.

            1. A little bit of a drive, but the Coach Grill in Wayland has a nice 10oz filet.

              5 Replies
              1. re: steve999

                The Coach Grille is prettty great, but I don't think it's any cheaper than say, Grille 23..In fact, don't they own it?

                1. re: galleygirl

                  A little bit cheaper - maybe ~ $10 a steak. They are owned by Abe & Louie's / BBRG.

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Coach Grill is a Back Bay Restaurant Group place, same folks behind Abe & Louie's, Atlantic Fish, Bouchée, Charley's Eating & Drinking Saloon, Joe's American Bar & Grill, and Papa Razzi.

                    It's significantly less pricey than Abe & Louie's: $30 for a 16-oz boneless NY strip, where A&L's is $42.

                    I get a little nervous about a steakhouse that brags about its "prime choice meats".

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Well, I guess that makes it a bargain...;)

                      I just thought it was related to Grille 23 becasue they had the same bone-in swordfish steak on the menu...Anyway, if this is midway between CG and Outback for the OP, it's a pretty good meal...

                      Edit; Oh never mind, I see I've confused grille 23 with Abe and louis anyway, in regard to the bone-in swordfish....What do you expect from a pescatarian?

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Nervous or not, they put out a great meal.

                  2. Since they're in Melrose, the 111 Chop House on Shrewsbury St in Worcester might be a good bet.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: heWho

                      why would living in Melrose make it easy to get to Worcester? its 60 miles away!

                      1. re: ac106

                        Oops, I'm sorry. For some odd reason I read that as Marlborough!

                    2. If you are looking for something in the city, probably your best option is look for somewhere with good steak frites. You won't get the classic steakhouse cuts, but you can find a place with excellent service and a good wine list. Plenty of options in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville... Tango isn't a bad idea, if steak frites are ok, since probably their best option is a skirt steak.

                      Since you mentioned "Western Suburbs" (which to me means Waltham -> MetroWest, not close to Melrose). If you really want the steakhouse thing, with the 1800 degree broiler thing, there is Metro 9 in Framingham which is definitely more affordable the Capital Grille (I haven't been because a planned dinner was rescheduled so check board for opinions.) I might lean towards going to Waltham, where you have the choice of either La Campania or Tuscan Grill for wood grilled steaks (respectively fillet and rib-eye). Not cheap, but less than CG.

                      Right by the CG, some friends like Papa Razzi's which is BBRG. Its not my cup of tea, but also not a bad steak.

                      In the area around Melrose, I have seen strong reviews of Pellana on the board which is in Peabody, but the price point is probably pretty close to going in to town. If something like Frank's or the Stockyard will do (largely strip steaks, filet, prime rib), I have actually had better luck at Jimmy's and they have one in Saugus.

                      Some Italian red sauce places do serve good steaks -- plus there are good alternatives for less steak inclined diners. La Mia Vita in Saugus comes to mind, there are several more in the area: Stoneham/Malden/Winchester.

                      Last thought would be to order or give a gift certificate for steaks for them to cook and perhaps a bottle of wine. I would be happy to get steaks from Sulmona as a present. You could get a Omaha gift certificate perhaps. Peter Luger is probably out of the budget.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: itaunas

                        I have not been in years but how about the wildwood in marlborough?

                        1. re: itaunas

                          re: western suburbs: I suppose I don't really know where I live. I don't consider Melrose the North Shore, but some do, apparently. I grew up in Winchester, and tend to think I still live there, I guess.

                          Wherever I am, it is nowhere near Worcester. That much I'm sure of!

                          Yeah, Pellana is too expensive - I can't afford a $200 gift certificate. Man, this is a hard price point, apparently. There's absolutely no reason on earth a steak should cost $40, but there's no reason it should be the tasteless junk they serve at the lower-end chains, either. Humph.

                          1. re: ReluctantOperaChick

                            FWIW, Melrose is *not* anything near a western suburb. It is one town away from the ocean (we can see the ocean from parts of it). It is a northern inner burb that links more readily to Boston (the Orange Line ends at the city line, literally) and the North Shore than anywhere else. It's far easier to go into Boston from Melrose than to go to, let's say, Weston.

                        2. Here's Melrose! Probably more north of Boston, not quite western burbs or north shore.


                          1. Coach Grill in Wayland.....or a well kept secret is the Oregon Club on the Framingham/Ashland/Southborough Border off RT 9 ...former speakeasy that has specialized in steaks for decades...Very interesting place.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pondrat

                              I remember enjoying the Oregon Club a few years back. Have you been recently? I wondered if it was still in operation.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                I hope pondrat replies. I also haven't been to the Oregon Club in years and wonder how they are doing. Most of that staff was a spinoff from Bullfinch's in Sudbury.

                                Has anyone been there lately?

                            2. Some favorites for steak:

                              1) Churrascaria rodizio. You mentioned Tango; my favorite is the Midwest Grill in East Cambridge.

                              2) Korean BBQ. Great way to enjoy beef, as short ribs and ribeye. You grill it yourself at your table. My favorite is Koreana; I'd love to hear more reviews about Yasu, the place in Coolidge Corner.

                              3) French bistros for steak frites, a flavorful piece of hanger, flank, or skirt steak for under $25. Your options about tripled in the past year. Some that I like: the two Petit Robert Bistros (soon to be three), Pierrot, Beacon Hill Bistro, Aquitaine, Gaslight, Brasserie Jo, Les Zygomates, Eastern Standard.

                              4) Italian chophouses. Prezza is the paragon of the style (and not cheap, exactly), doing great fire-grilled meats in addition to superb pastas. Davio's also fits this bill. I used to include La Brace on this list, but I've heard terrible things about it lately (complaints about mystery charges on the bill, for one).

                              5) Less-expensive but non-chain steakhouses. My favorite of these is The Stockyard, though Frank's near Porter Square can be charming. I don't like the Hilltop.

                              6) Retro-50s places. Most of these deliver of steak-frites class of steak (cheap, delicious, and a bit chewy) without the French ambience. Lucky's in Southie is one I've had some great little steaks at, though most of the crowd is there for the boozing.

                              7) "Fancy comfort food" places. Just about every fine-dining place does a steak; these ones deliver very good value: Pops, Coda, The Good Life, Silvertone, B-Side Lounge, Zon's.

                              8) Tiger's tears salad at a Cambodian place. My favorite is at Floating Rock in Revere, but I've also had decent ones at Elephant Walk and at Myers + Chang, though the one I had at M+C at dinner recently wasn't as good as the lunch version.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Midwest Grill is now in Saugus so that's pretty convenient.

                                I've never been to the Hardcover in Danvers but a friend swears by them for her steak dinners.

                                Melrose really is just a short trip to Boston and if it were me I'd prefer a G.C. for a good place in town rather than picking something not as good but more local.

                              2. I have had a decent steak at Tanner Tavern in Woburn Center and prices are reasonable . But one of the best I have ever had was at L'Andana Friday night (pricey but well worth the bucks!)

                                1. If you're talking about meat quality, Capital Grille and Outback serve the same steak - generally IBP choice. Isn't there a Burton's somewhere near Melrose? Also the same steak, but better ambience.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: almansa

                                    NOT!! sorry but you are sooooo mis-informed. Burton's is closer to Outback in steak quality.

                                    1. re: treb

                                      Actually I am quite well informed. In fact, the CG serves the same steak as its sibling, Bugaboo Creek, although it is cooked differently. When are people going to realize that there are only 5 players in the beef industry producing over 96% of the steaks out there on the market? I've written extensively on the subject and am on a national beef advisory board consulting to the industry's smaller producers/ranches. The Capital Grille serves everyday USDA choice commodity beef. They only package it in lots of mahogany and a decent wine list. I'll grant that some of their steaks are dry-aged, however - an improvement over Burton's or Outback. It's owned by Red Lobster/Olive Garden for goodness sake. Don't get me wrong: it's a quality restaurant; just don't overrate the beef. You can buy it at Foodmaster.

                                      1. re: almansa

                                        almansa, you should repost that list you did earlier on who sells what at the luxury and second-tier steakhouses in Boston. Very informative.

                                        1. re: almansa

                                          That's like saying Del Frisco's has the same beef grade as Longhorn Steakhouse, because they're owner by the same company. I suppose Peter Lugar's doesn't serve prime dry aged beef either. I didn't say all cuts at CG were prime, i.e. most places only use choice for their fillet cut, unless they are telling a lie on their menu. But I'd challenge you to visit CG and see for yourself.

                                    2. Another one from the 'burbs but fits the bill = Metro 9 in Framingham (http://www.metro9steakhouse.com/)

                                      1. Gaven's in Middleton.
                                        Hardcover in Danvers.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lammypie

                                          I had a GREAT steak at Smith and Wollensky's last week.

                                          Ate at the Bar - Barmen steered us to the in-house dry aged sirloins, which were fabulous and cooked to perfection. We started off with an over-the-top seafood platter, and they were kind enough to go light on the oysters (i was the only of three to eat them) and replace some of them with extra crab and mussels. It was a quiet night, and we invited the barmen to share some of the two bottles of very good wine we had - this was a big plus, because it got us a tuna tartare appetizer, a round of Limoncello after the seafood, as well as a nice glass of Dow's Port after the steaks all comp'ed.
                                          This place is definitely up there with the finer steak houses in the city

                                          1. re: Cork

                                            Pellana in Peabody beats Gaven's in Middleton anyday. Worst filet ever came from Hardcover, never went back.

                                            1. re: marilu

                                              Gavens' floor is too bouncy. i feel like it's gonna give way every time i walk across it.