A Whole New Meaning of “Strip Steak”

The wait for dinner at Crystal City Restaurant was nowhere near as painful as it was this afternoon at the Camelot Show Bar.

I’m hard-pressed to explain why. It may be because the women weren’t fully nude at CCR. It may be because the women didn’t try to suck up as hard to you at CCR. It may be because I had wireless internet access at CCR.

 Whatever the reason, my $5.99 New York strip steak dinner appeared in short order. Sure, I did have to ask the waitress to break my $10 bill, so I could have a steady supply of singles. CCR has a rather aggressive dancer schedule. No stripper shakes it longer than the length of a single jukebox song. That means they get up there, quickly strip down to pasties and a G-string, perform a number of limber exercises designed to expose the naughty parts of their anatomy, and get the hell off the stage.

And then they come right to your table, where protocol says  you give them at least a buck for wiggling their butt cheeks in rhythm. I felt obligated to pass out dollars even as I was stuffing my face with beef. I felt like Dad at the dinner table passing out money to his daughters.

OK, the food: The plate arrived looking like a snapshot from my own private eating hell as a child. I grew up in Omaha, beef capital of America, and yet my family couldn’t cook a steak to save their souls. I remember chewing and chewing and chewing at some overcooked, underseasoned piece of meat -- until I would give up and just spit the nasty wad out in my napkin. Or just hold it in my cheek, like a chipmunk, until I could spit it out in the toilet.

CCR’s gray slab of beef brought back all those memories. It didn’t help that the New York strip was about as thick as a book of poetry. Its sides didn’t inspire much hope either: a stack of extra-wide steak fries that looked barely cooked and a bowl of sliced green beans, previously frozen or canned if I were a betting man.

The meat’s thinness, in fact, reminded me more of skirt steak than strip, even though it clearly was the latter. There also wasn’t a char mark within a mile of that steak, which means the protein likely never came in contact with a grill. I was not looking forward to my first bite.

Now, I don’t want to oversell this, but let me say this about the first bite: It was far better than anything I could have imagined, particularly at that price, particularly  with its underwhelming appearance. The steak was well-seasoned, the salt and pepper bringing out the meager flavor of that thin cut. The seasoning, in fact, was the make-or-break element of the meat. Those bites not sprinkled with enough S&P were lifeless.

I have absolutely nothing kind to say about the sides, other than the fact they were less embarrassing to stare at than the women on stage.

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