Manly, Yes, But …
Yowza, the testosterone. Bob’s Steak & Chop House (1255 S. Main St., Grapevine) sports ultra-dark wood paneling, dim lighting, sweaty athletes on the bar tvs, pictures of horsies over the leather booths — the only thing missing from the snooty-club atmosphere is a haze of expensive-cigar smoke.
Of course there’s valet parking, for men who can afford not to walk the 30 feet from the lot full of “Look what I can afford!” cars. Chow, Baby hid the car it can afford in a back corner and hoofed it. Appropriate to the autos, Bob’s crowd is mostly middle-aged Gordon Gekko wannabes, a few of them accessorized with the kind of woman you’d cynically expect. Yet Chow, Baby’s thrift-store finery didn’t faze the nice hostess; though we rather expected to be hidden in a back corner, we were actually given a prime booth under a horsie picture. And attentive server Amanda was very supportive; our every choice was greeted with “Excellent!” The lobster bisque ($10.95) certainly was — thick and rich, with a bonus center island of lobster meat. But the blue cheese salad ($8.95) was lame, with too much crumbled egg and hardly any blue-vein flavor crystals in the cheese. A crab cake appetizer was very good — crispy outside, not too much filler inside, sweet-tangy mustard sauce — but at the size of a breakfast sausage, not quite $12.95 excellent.
Entrées climb into the $50 range (“Look what I can afford!”); kudos to Amanda for allowing Chow, Baby to order the poor man’s 12-oz. prime rib-eye ($29.95) without trying to upsell the bone-in ($42.95). And kudos to the grill chef for nailing “medium-rare-plus, seared” on the nicely marbled steak. Included sides: a single glazed carrot, but one so huge it made Chow, Baby feel inadequate, and very nice skillet-fried potatoes with a green-peppercorn gravy so tasty we ordered an extra batch ($3.95). We had presumed from the salad that Bob’s would wimp out on all girly dishes, but the vegetables — garlicky sautéed spinach and mushrooms and sort of a pot pie of creamed spinach (each $7.95) — were amazingly good. And our desserts, a custardy key lime pie and a dense banana-nut-bread pudding (each $6.95), were snap-snap fabulous. So Bob’s does have a softer side. So did Chow, Baby, after all that food. And yet … and yet. As good as the meal was, and overall it was quite good, Chow, Baby still felt kinda empty.
Chow, Baby had time to mull this over on the long walk back through the BMWs and Jaguar S-types (lord, what a hideous car) to the cherished Chowbabymobile and finally realized it’s that old money-versus-love thing. No, wait, there’s more to this than “Chow, Baby doesn’t like new cars, so it’s going to pan the restaurant.” It’s that some people will pay a lot for something because they love it. Other people will love something because they paid a lot for it. See the difference? Bob’s is catering to that second audience, the money-first crowd, and doing a bang-up job — but except for maybe the spinach chef, you don’t get the sense that anybody in the house is doing it for love. Maybe this makes Chow, Baby unmanly, but it wants — needs — the love to come first. Sorry, Bob, you were a one-night stand. Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org.