Sunday Night Steak

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris January 23, 2024 21:16 in Dining Diary

Whenever we were thinking of dinner, Tom always asked what we felt like eating. I don’t have thoughts like that except occasionally. Recently, I did.

For some reason one recent Sunday evening I felt like eating steak. And another thing Tom always said came to mind: He often said he needed to “get something out of it.” I never really understood that until now, when the content monster is after me.

In thinking about what was open that we “could get something out of” the fact that it was Sunday limited our choices. Mr. John’s barely qualified since it was one of Tom’s favorites of old, and at one time a sponsor of the show. Tom went often. But they were closed on Sunday.

Mary Leigh mentioned a new place called Gaia Steakhouse which seemed like an out-of-town operation. And one that seemed like it belonged in Vegas.

Gaia is a most intriguing place in what used to be the Melting Pot on St. Charles Ave., It is a gorgeous and eclectic renovation of a linear space. Gigantic support posts are covered in materials to simulate trees, and the most peculiar but arresting art hangs on all the walls. It is a very captivating environment.

You walk into a small bar and behind it are the large glass walls of temperature-controlled meat-aging cabinets. As you continue to walk toward the back of the space you pass sumptuous booths and finally reach a back dining room and a side private dining space.

We were seated in that back dining room. Finally, a waiter arrived. He greeted us and at the same time uncorked a bottle of water, placing it in an ice bucket for wine. I wondered how much we were paying for that, and when I noticed a date of 1789 on it, I assumed plenty. That started me off annoyed. I already find the whole water choices thing silly, but it should never be assumed that a diner wants to pay for water. Because it was not even discussed, I wondered if in a place this expensive and unusual it might be complimentary. Hahaha.

We ordered a crabcake to split as an appetizer, and the short ribs for two. For the sides, we got some grilled vegetables and some fries. In a place like this, the fries should certainly be housecut, but the waiter disabused me of that notion.

The crabcake was beautiful. It was pan-seared and full of jumbo lump crabmeat. The mango and pineapple remoulade schmear alongside it was terrific. This was a delicious bite of food.

When the short ribs came I realized how gimmicky the place was. It was an enormous pile of tender meat that the waiter removed from the two bones, which he then used like a saber to chop it all. There was an awful lot of meat. 

It was a little silly but fun, served on a nice wooden cutting board. Tom also got a strip steak, which the waiter sliced at the table, leaving his knife standing up. 

The fries were underwhelming, as was the meager portion of grilled vegetables, served in a ridiculously oversized bowl. The red pepper sauce was delicious.

All the sides were presented in a serving bowl, which was part of the outsized style of the place.

When it was time for dessert, we passed, but a nearby table got the cotton candy presentation. It’s a mildly creepy mannequin head with different colors of cotton candy piled four feet high, with a birthday cake for four at the bottom. A cute little family was celebrating their young daughter’s birthday, and they loved it.

While we waited excessively long for the check, Tom decided he was ready to go. He got up and walked to the front of the restaurant just as the check arrived. I wanted to discuss the bottled water with the waiter but he never did make it to the front of the restaurant to discuss the bill.

I thought the food was much too good for the place to be so gimmicky. Usually, gimmicks substitute for the food, which is unsatisfying. But I liked this food overall.

It seemed an odd place designed for high rollers. Not a place for us.  But we got what we wanted there that night. We had a delicious meal, and of course, content. No need to go back.