WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The Steak Knife is the longest-running player in the Lakeview restaurant row on Harrison Avenue. With an obvious (but not exclusive) specialty, it’s long been a social center of Lakeview. The menu can’t be called especially original, nor is any dish the best of its kind, but it is very good and consistent.
The menu begins with an unusually strong collection of appetizers, notably escargots with mushrooms, crab au gratin, and a funny but good original called tidbit in the oven (it’s almost all cheese–better than it sounds). It goes on to a line of well-prepared steaks and chops of fine pedigree, served with more excitement now than I remember from many meal in the past. But they cook the non-beef dishes, of which there are many, every bit as well as they do the steaks. The easygoing manner of the place makes it one of the most comfortable restaurants around. places to dine in town.
After running a Lakeview bar for years, Bob Roth opened the Steak Knife in partnership with Ernie Masson (of the memorable, now-extinct Masson’s) in 1972. Both men passed in the 1990s; the restaurant has been managed by Roth’s sons Bobby and Guy for over 20 years. It moved from its original location across the street (now Mondo) to a former bank lobby in the 1990s. Like everything else in Lakeview, the Steak Knife had deep Katrina flooding, and took a long time to return. Its first post-storm opening was near the marina. It moved back into its pre-storm quarters early in 2009.
Marble floors, rich wood paneling, and heavy columns–all inherited from the bank that used to be here–dominate the main dining room. Smaller rooms surround it. The building is big enough for a substantial lounge, one of the more pleasant hangouts in Lakeview. There’s even live music some evenings. The service staff is welcoming and eager to serve, but always seems one or two people short.
»Tidbit in the oven (crostini topped with cheeses and herbs)
Fried eggplant medallions
»Crabmeat au gratin
»Flash fried oysters, remoulade sauce
Soup of the day
»Crabmeat vinaigrette salad
Steak Knife salad
»Seraphine salad (avocado, marinated hearts of palm and artichoke, asparagus, greens)
Wedge, blue cheese, red onion
»Veal medallions, lump crabmeat, mushrooms, beurre blanc
Grilled chicken breast, olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary
Pepper-crusted yellowfin tuna
»Gulf fish Robert (lump crabmeat, mushrooms, beurre blanc
Shrimp bordelaise (mushrooms, garlic butter, white wine and brandy)
Fried jumbo Gulf shrimp
»Prime New York strip
»Potatoes au gratin
Broccoli au gratin
Yukon Gold steak fries
»Fried onion rings
»Sauteed garlic spinach
»Bread pudding with whiskey sauce
Ice cream pecan ball
FOR BEST RESULTS
It’s usually a bad idea to eat seafood in a steakhouse, but not here. Don’t hesitate to order the fish or anything else. You usually don’t need a reservation, but it’s a good idea. The place can pack without warning.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The tabletop furnishings seem a bit low-rent for as good a restaurant as this is. Sometimes the noise in the bar intrudes into the dining room.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +2
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Local Color +1
- Live music some nights
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Monday dinner
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The return of the Steak Knife to Lakeview in 2008 made a lot of people happy. It was the last and biggest missing piece in the Katrina-flooded (eight feet!) Harrison Avenue restaurant community. Even though it resumed operations about two years ago in West End, all was not right with the world until it returned to its accustomed corner, and started making drinks and grilling steaks again.
New Orleans has more steakhouses than it really needs. This one stands out in a number of unconventional ways. The most important of them is the community of hangers-out that it supports. While only its most devoted regulars would claim that the Steak Knife served the best steaks in the city, the quality is beyond reproach. And everything else they do is good enough to make the place float into one’s consciousness when in Lakeview at dinner time.