Steak Nights

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris April 01, 2023 22:25 in Dining Diary

Who knows when Steak Nights came to be? I remember back in the days of Crazy Johnnie’s when everyone was talking about their $5 steak dinner. I believe it was a steak, baked potato, and salad. It became a phenom, perpetuated in no small way by incessant chatter on the Food Show.

Crazy Johnnie’s Steak Night was in fact a pretty great deal. The steak was high quality, the baked potato large and cooked to the sweet spot, and the salad made of interesting greens with a housemade dressing.

The popular Fat City bar closed not long after Katrina, and nothing emerged to take the place of the beloved Crazy Johnnie’s Steak Night. How could it?

But a good idea is a good idea, and Steak Nights are seemingly everywhere now. The first one I tried was at Palmetto’s, a quirky but charming place on the north shore in Slidell. Palmetto’s has been around for twenty years, and recently it has undergone some very positive changes. One of the partners bought the other out and imported a chef from New Orleans with A-List creds, and the place is definitely in ascendance. Their Steak Night is every Thursday and features a ribeye with a different preparation each week. On the night we went it was a grilled ribeye with chimichurri sauce and roasted potatoes. A first-course salad of arugula with grilled fruits and crumbled feta was a creative take on a predictable, formulaic dining event. This very fresh salad with citrusy vinaigrette was a generous portion, almost enough to be a meal in itself. 

I noticed something that night that has been reinforced at subsequent Steak Nights: I don’t like ribeyes. I loved everything else about this plate of food, but not the steak. Too bad.

The next place we went for Steak Night was also in Slidell, not far from Palmetto’s, and a long-time favorite of ours. Nathan’s is tucked way off the main highway in a marina. We have had a lengthy association with the place. They were an advertiser on The Food Show for many years, and they hosted many an excellent Eat Club. 

Yet, for many years, we completely forgot about it, until it resurfaced in our memory a year or so ago. As good as ever, we have been a number of times since, and it was then that we learned of the Steak Night.

To be fair, we got it confused. We went on Steak & Turf Night, which included a smallish fried softshell crab and mashed/smashed potatoes. The steak was a filet and a nice piece of meat. The softshell crab was a little Buster and we love those. It would be hard to complain about either of these things or the creamy mashed potatoes here which are always good.

The third one of these was a surprising venue for such a thing. Junior’s on Harrison seems an unlikely place to indulge in this popular but too-easy way to bring ’em in, but we heard about it and went. As per my expectations, it was different. Part of the deal with a Steak Night is…a deal. There wasn’t a fixed price and package here. Everything was a la carte. We ordered the steak, which is an 8 oz tenderloin at $36, and all sides run $10 and up, so these are real steakhouse prices. I can’t imagine why anyone would go to Junior’s on Steak Night and pay the same as any other steakhouse (like the Steak Knife right across the street )that specializes in these things, and frankly, does it much better.

We got CC’s Boogaloo potatoes, which are like smashed potatoes, and creamed spinach, the essential accompaniment to a steak in this house. Both these sides were way off the mark of what one expects in a steak dinner. The steak was tender and of high quality, drenched in sizzling butter, and topped with parsley bits, as is required in these parts.

We left this one scratching our heads. It was not at all bad, but completely unremarkable, and far too pricey for the goodness offered.

We saved the best for last, and are not even a little surprised to declare this one on top. Katie’s, a place that,  to our taste can claim “the best” for most everything, has a terrific Steak Night, on the untraditional Wednesday. It hearkens back to the old Crazy Johnnie’s days. For $25, you will receive a butter-tender filet cooked exactly as you asked, with a choice of twice-baked or loaded baked potato, and a martini. Add to that the Katie’s vibe and I just can’t imagine a place I’d rather do Steak Night.

If I want to eat steak in a restaurant, I go to a place that specializes in it. You’re paying for “the steakhouse experience.” Getting a steak off a regular menu is something I almost never do. 

Steak Night is a fun little gimmick and in some cases a real bargain. Worth doing occasionally. Why not?