Here's the Beef

A storm would have been required to carry away the wonderful twelve-ounce rib eye entree, because that's the only way we would have allowed it to be taken from us before we were through. Medium-rare and juicy, with just the right amount of resistance to the meat, this beauty was testimony to the fact that Dan Flick can cook.

We also enjoyed "Tony's house special," a skillfully handled skirt steak sliced and smothered in barbecue sauce. Marinated until tender, the generous strips were flavored even more by a dark, molasses-sweet sauce. But a grilled mahi-mahi was disappointing -- tough and dry, and hardly benefiting from a moistening but bland citrus buerre blanc. Apparently the kitchen's skill with steak doesn't extend to the finned variety.

A choice of potatoes, hash browned or baked, was offered with the entrees. The hash browns were a delicious nongreasy pile, pan-fried chunks of white potatoes that were crisp in some places and flaky in others. The baked potato -- often the poor relation to pasta and rice in this neighborhood's gaggle of Italian trattorias and Caribbean-inspired cafes -- also made a hearty showing here, hammered with the works: butter, sour cream, and chives. Side orders of sauteed onions and what Texas terms a "trilogy" of earthy mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, and cremini) were bathed in crushed garlic, accenting both meats and potatoes.

The restaurant lists a variety of white and red wines, mostly Californian. Although the low end of the wine menu (under $20) is limited, you can cadge a Silverado chardonnay (high 20s) and a Ravenswood merlot (mid-30s), and there's a tempting selection of pricey reserve vintages. We uncorked one of the few international reds, a Chilean merlot for $18, which complemented the mild rib eye but was really too young for the challenges of chili and barbecue.

A serving of Texas chocolate-malt cake was too stiff with refrigerator burn to satisfy our craving for a rich finish. Forget the Florida Beef Council. We've got Texas Steakhouse. But where's the Florida Chocolate Council when we need it?

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