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High Steaks BBQ: Shining Service, Blah Brisket

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Walk through the doors of High Steaks BBQ, which opened just a few months ago near the Magic City Casino, and you'll find a new kitschy-cute restaurant with wood rafters and copper-topped tables. A server greets you with a big, welcoming smile, and next thing you know, you're sitting at a table chatting her up, asking what Cheerwine and plantain pups are.

Tashi, a spunky gal with long brown hair, made us feel entirely welcome on a recent visit. She took our drink order immediately -- and magically got the iced tea-to-lemonade ratio just right for our Arnold Palmers -- and kept refills coming at regular intervals. She asked if we had any questions about the menu, properly described the components of some dishes in question, and quickly brought our order while it was still at the proper temperature. This place is a shining example of stellar service, which is probably why it was stuffed to the grate with shiny, happy people when we visited. 

However, the food at High Steaks is not typical barbecue fare -- and if you are all about the traditional mix of barbecue, you might try somewhere else. Our meal comprised dry hush puppies ($3.50), two sauces that looked different but tasted very similar, another sauce that was downright watery, coleslaw with no seasoning, and a chewy brisket sandwich ($9) served on -- gasp! -- egg bread. 

About three bites in, a handsomely dressed gentleman whom we presume was the manager came to our table to check on us. He too was smiling and seemed genuinely interested in our feedback. As the supervisor walked away, we overheard a male server quietly singing along to the classic rock hits playing in the background. Only happy employees sing during dinner service, and only supportive managers allow such behavior, we surmised.

When Tashi returned to clear our plates, she gave us a "frequent eater" card with six places for stamps. After the last punch, diners can spin a wheel near the entrance to receive anything from a T-shirt to a free dessert. (We didn't have the stomach to go for one of those massive hunks of cake, though "Choose a Dessert" is probably where we'd hope our arrow would stop.)

We were rewarded with a heartfelt thank-you when Tashi dropped the bill, along with a request that we return soon to try some of her favorite items on the menu. The menu didn't appeal to me personally, but I'd return to High Steaks for an Arnold Palmer, a slab of coconut cake, and a shot of joy anytime.

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