Santa Maria, September 19, 2015—THE BIG QUESTION: drive twenty minutes back north to a well-reviewed upscale restaurant in another town — which does not take reservations, and has no liquor license — or eat at a classic American steak house in this town, and begin with a Martini?
Because we enjoy dialectic we discussed the question for a few minutes, then bundled into the car and drove a few blocks. Quilted red leather booth. Meat cooking over red oak. Full bar. Many happy noisy diners. Waiters wearing four-in-hand neckties and half-aprons.
I had a Caesar salad, not quite as good as the one at lunch but acceptable, and then a twelve-ounce tri-tip, nicely salted. But before any of this, a tray of celery, scallions, olives, and pickles, and a decent Beefeater Martini.
The steak was undoubtedly grain-fed and politically incorrect but tasty, and I figure we do this so rarely — no pun intended — it can't hurt.
Pinot noir, Rahcno Sisquoc Winery (Santa Barbara county), unknown vintage: good varietal, a little sweet•Shaw's Famous Steakhouse, 714 South Broadway, Santa Maria, California; 805-925-5882
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants