Father’s Day in this household is just like Mother’s Day. Tom and me. Certainly not our preference but there it is. I had given little thought to where to go because Tom has been everywhere close and Father’s Day is special, so going to the same places is not special at all.
And suddenly Tom spoke up, though he couldn’t exactly communicate his wishes. He did what he always does, giving me one-sentence clues. I’m pretty great at this game, usually. We did a whole trip to L.A. that way, and I got a perfect score.
The first clue for this one was that there are three. Immediately I thought of Gallagher’s, a place he rarely gets to go, mainly because I’m the driver and I much prefer Keith Young’s Steakhouse.
He didn’t confirm my guess, and his next clue threw me off, but I knew in my heart it was Gallagher’s. He instructed me by giving me driving directions, but they were confusing. I told him I would drive him to the place I thought he wanted to go, and if I was wrong we would keep trying.
It was indeed Gallagher’s but when we arrived it looked closed. It wasn’t yet quite 11 a.m. We passed it and then turned around. I no longer trust Google, which said closed. On the way past it again I noticed two cars parked next to each other in the parking lot, looking like they were visiting. Hmmm.
While we passed another car drove up. I circled back again and asked if they were open. One of the drivers said, “I hope so. We have reservations at 11.” This was enough to excite Tom into jumping from the car to try to get a table.
I knew our only hope on this holiday was sitting at the bar, but I was going to ask about a table with a reservation an hour away. They were completely full, as I expected, so the bar it was.
It was ours for the choosing. The waiters back there were young and cute and very accommodating. Mike the manager came over to greet Tom, and from this, the bartenders surmised he must be somebody. They couldn’t have been more attentive until a party of ten took up most of the rest of the bar, and they suddenly got very busy.
It’s a good thing we had everything we needed by then and were well on our way to finishing a great meal. Tom started with his usual, Oysters Pablo. When I saw mac’n’cheese on the menu I impulsively ordered it. Here is the real mac’n’cheese, the one most like ours - the gold standard of the dish. No bread crumbs or bechamel sauce, just elbows and cream and cheese. Dreamy.
From there it was the usual steakhouse order for us. A filet, creamed spinach, and both au gratin potatoes and a loaded baked potato, served family-style. Gallagher’s serves their steaks New Orleans-style, on an extremely hot plate with sizzling butter. This gives me a chance to finish cooking it for me. I never eat a whole steak myself, just bites of Tom’s, and he likes it medium-rare.
This was another perfect steak that was large enough for us both, with a third left over. That’s pretty normal for us because we always get carried away with sides.
I have often said that a steak diner on the Northshore is either a Keith fan or a Gallagher fan, but likely don’t do both equally. We are definitely Keith Young people, but love Gallagher’s too.
Tom finds the Oysters Pablo at the top of his list for baked oysters. These are really among the best I have seen, and they are unique. Baked with Tequila and a blanket of finely grated Parmesan cheese, these come in a metal dish with indentions for the oysters. A four-inch piece of toasted crusty French bread is served on top.
Tom also prefers the sizzling butter on the steak. This butter and the really hot plate on which it is served allows me to keep cooking my pieces of steak while Tom retains his medium rare state. Of course, the beef is perfect. It’s Pat Gallagher.
But all of the sides are better at Keith’s. These scalloped potatoes were very creamy and cheesy, but the creamed spinach here doesn’t move me at all. And that is a hard statement to make. I love creamed spinach and get it everywhere. It’s not bad here at all, very good in fact, but all versions of creamed spinach are measured alongside Keith’s, and this one pales in comparison. I also ordered a baked potato, which was large and fluffy and loaded as they all should be.
Tom finished his meal with a lovely creme brulee. Pat Gallagher serves a beautiful version of bread pudding here, but Tom has never really warmed to it. The creme brulee was custardy, with a lovely shell and a few plump berries on top.
The food on Father’s Day was terrific here as always, but I think the best parts of the experience were the fun attention we received from the young bartenders, who not only took exceptionally good care of us, but they were fun to talk to.
Every table was filled with families of all sizes and generations. And even though the father I was with had no descendants present, we enjoyed it all the same.