Eating. prime rib. (Daniel's Broiler).
My father and I, along with our friend L., have this long-standing tradition. Whenever their wives (my mother and her friend J.) were out of town, we three would go out for steak. We used to head off to the Union Square Grill, which served the Baked Alaska that L. was so fond of. (Now they have remodeled and revamped the menu so it is no longer a steakhouse, and I have not yet gone back). Sometimes we would try other steakhouses around Seattle; the Metropolitan Grill (overrated and stuffy), El Gaucho (excellent appetizers and steak, but uninteresting side dishes), and Morton's (pretty good). And there is Daniel's Broiler, which is consistently good on all points - appetizers, check, side dishes, check, desserts, check (particularly their fruit tarts), and juicy, aged, perfectly grilled steak, check, check, CHECK.
While over the past decade or so Seattle has refined its own cuisine - seasonal local produce, fresh seafood, artisanal ingredients, etc., all trends that have swept the country lately - at its heart there remains a shadow of the Ye Olde Frontier Towne it once was. Which means clubby steakhouses with leather-lined booths and forest-green carpets and huntin'n'fishin' prints on the walls, gigantic floral arrangements and huge bottles of wine strewn about. And correspondingly huge cuts of steak. Maybe it's just that the times have swung back to the desire for beef, but these steakhouses are always bustling, full of casually-dressed Seattleites or suit-and-tie-ed business guys talking...business, out for a meal that seems to include an entire side of beef. (Plus sides).
My usual has always been a New York strip steak, richly marbled and crusted from the searing heat, juicy and medium-rare. Lately, though, it's been prime rib. Particularly the prime rib at Daniel's Broiler. It arrives, a gigantic, thick slice of beef, bone-in, perfectly medium rare throughout, and even though I order almost every time I come here, I am always shocked by the size. It's the size of...well, words fail me. I think it is larger than my copy of War and Peace. The beef is crusted with salt and cracked black pepper, and needs nothing else, perhaps a smear of horseradish. The meat is tender and deeply flavorful; the salt and pepper crunches in my teeth. It really doesn't get any better than this.
Tonight I am late to dinner, and as I sit down J. leans over to tell me that they'd reserved an order of prime rib for me. (There's never enough to go around, so you have to ask for it as soon as you are seated). Excellent. There is some calamari, and slices of seared tuna; fresh bread hot out of the oven. There is no need for soup or salad. Just beef, perhaps a few bites of perfect mashed potatoes, an asparagus spear, a few grilled mushrooms. Later there will be a peach tart with flaky, buttery pastry that stays crisp beneath the melting fruit and ice cream, the gooey caramel sauce. But it is the prime rib that I go there for, rich and juicy and filling my senses with the absolute, complete taste of beef.
Tomorrow there are leftovers for lunch.
(Edited 8.28.06: I did share the mashed potatoes with S. at lunch, but the beef was all mine. MINE!).