Is there anything finer than a sizzling, flame kissed slab of prime beef overfilling your plate at a fine high-end chop house? Steak used to define fine dining and wealth provided the delineation between the type of steak each patron could afford–select, choice or prime, a classification based on marbling (the more the marbling, the more tender the steak).
The proliferation of inexpensive steak restaurants in the 1960s made steak readily available to the common man while the advent of technology has made it available over the Internet and even in mall stores throughout America. The tragic reality is that while ordinary steaks have become ubiquitous, truly memorable steaks are a rarity.
March, 2005 saw the launch of the Gruet Steakhouse in the downstairs portion of the Monte Vista Fire Station, a national historic registry property. Expectations were high that its steaks would be comparable in quality to the highly regarded wines proffered at the local Gruet winery, an award-winning winery with worldwide acclaim.
Understandably Gruet wines are indeed prominent on the restaurant’s wine menu with some by-the-glass selections costing what it might cost for a steak at mediocre chain steak restaurants such as the Outback Steakhouse.
Sophisticated (albeit very masculine) styling resonates class with subtle earth tones, granite counters and comfortable seating. The Gruet family coat of arms and crest is omnipresent. It’s etched on windows and watermarked on the two-page menu which features many intriguing options at premium prices.
Among the artfully described appetizers is “The Wedge and Maytag Blue Cheese,” a pristine lettuce wedge garnished with applewood smoked bacon, tomato, blue cheese crumbles and chives. Maytag blue cheese, creation of the Maytag appliance scion, is among the very best blue cheeses you can find. It’s not overly sharp but brings out the very best in any salad.
The 16-ounce New York steak is tender, well-seasoned and very flavorful. It certainly doesn’t need the optional accompanying sauces–at least one of which detracted from the beef’s inherent flavor. The Herbs De Provence Scented Mustard, my choice, was so acidic and dominating, I had to scrape it off the steak. Each steak is also accompanied by garlic whipped potatoes which aren’t nearly as good as you might expect from a high-end steak restaurant.
The Gruet Steakhouse is comparable in quality to long-time Albuquerque standard, the Rancher’s Club. My overall assessment is one I’m tired of giving–“it’s pretty good for Albuquerque.” The day will hopefully come in which Duke City steak restaurants will set the standard by which restaurants at other cities will be compared.
The Gruet Steakhouse closed in December, 2009.
3201 Central, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 21 April 2005
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: The Wedge, New York Steak