As I write these little essays, I try to maintain a balance of restaurants and wines, so that I do not come across as a snob in either category. I have been very fortunate to have eaten at many fine restaurants in my days, and there are times when I go to more popular types of eateries. To this day, I very seldom go downtown Detroit without stopping by Lafayette Coney Island for a couple of loose burgers with heavy, heavy, heavy. I digress; just because there are times when I am with friends and we decide to have a quick bite and we will go someplace near, where we are at the moment.
I was with some friends one day and we ended up eating at a restaurant that is a small chain called Mountain Jack’s. It is a comfortable setting offering steaks and seafood. The menu is not vast, which is fine, as long as what is offered is well made. Mountain Jack’s did what they tacitly promised to do. The group of us had never been to this restaurant and we took a look at the menu, and I do believe that most of us ordered steaks or prime rib, as I did. If I am in a restaurant that I do not know that much about, a steak or prime rib is usually a safe bet, rather then my experimenting with something more elaborate. I have found that if a restaurant has prime rib as part of the regular menu, then I feel that they must know how to prepare it properly, though I do ask, if it is frozen or fresh, as I have had “instant” prime rib once, and I do not plan on having it again, and I have found that the wait staff will tell you this information, if requested, because they feel it will help with the tip. The steaks and the prime rib meals were fine, it was not “steak house” quality, but then again it was not priced as such either. With a group of guys, there is less problems with food, unless something is just terrible.
I recall seeing several choices of red wines, and some were very good wines. Since the prices for the food, did not warrant some of the fancier priced wines, I chose a popular price wine. I do this for a couple of reasons, the first being, if the wines do not seem to match the price of the food, they may not sell that much of the better wines, and I am not sure how well the bottles are stored. Secondly, I think it is overkill to have one part of the meal not balanced with other parts, as I try to keep everything in proper proportion. We ended up having a couple of bottles of Blackstone Winery Merlot 1997, just a good California red with our steaks. The Merlot is just a bit softer than a Cabernet Sauvignon and there is less concern about having to decant or aerate the bottle to soften the tannins. This is a trick I use when I will be with a group that are going to be drinking wine, instead of enjoying wine, I will go for something that is less finicky. This wine worked very well, as I stated, because we did go through a couple more bottles by the time dinner was finished, and everyone was happy.