Monday, April 12, 2010

Restaurant Review: Shambles Steakhouse

The maitre d' at Shambles stood at his lectern, eyes crinkling, smiling, shaking his head in wonder. "Astonishing," he said. "Simply astonishing. Table for one?" And that's the kind of greeting you can expect at Shambles Steakhouse. Ah, maitre! Want Shambles Steakhouse to always love me. I must say that if you'd like a restaurant staff that dresses like the mascot of an anglophile 1970's hotel, then Shambles Steakhouse is the place for you. I followed him through the mineshaft-style corridor into the main dining hall, where I was seated at a large wooden board. Since the board didn't have any legs, it was difficult to keep it from tilting, but I was able to keep it balanced on my knees the entire visit. "Marvelous!" the maitre d' cried. I think that I saw a tiny rivulet of moisture make its way down the rubbery surface of his cheek. Assuring me that my server would soon be arriving, he walked away, fists pumping in time with his footsteps. I sat a few moments at the rumpled tablecloth, enjoying the decor and ambiance of Shambles. The wintry Victorian atmosphere was most welcome, especially on a brutally humid summer's evening. Soon, the waitron arrived. The gigantic menu was impressive--it actually was a few inches taller than the server, and had to be walked into the dining room. The server opened it, but really that was unnecessary--I was in Shambles STEAKhouse, after all. I knew what I wanted.After ordering the crab cake sandwich with a side of linked onion rings, I sipped ale from my pewter mug and waited for my food to arrive. Shambles has always been an incredible dining experience. As you know, I have many pet peeves, and somehow Shambles manages to avoid all of them! It's positively Shambolic! Sorry. While my meal was being prepared, the singing strollers stopped by my table. You know how I feel about piped-in music--well, live music is always 100% better. And Shambles proves it. For you see, even when it's amateurish, live music has a life and charm to it that recorded music, no matter how professionally crafted, can never attain. The singing strollers, dressed in over sized overcoats, heartily sang "Greenland Whale Fisheries," perhaps my favorite sea shanty, though really, how can one choose? The amazing strollers roared out the shanty, to the delight of everyone in the dining room. Thankfully, when the owners of Shambles changed the eatery from a seafood emporium to a chop house, they kept the singing strollers on staff, and let them gradually begin the process of changing their repertoire. Only recently have western-themed songs like "All Along, Along, Along, the Colorado Trail" and "The Summer Wind" been added to the line-up. Combine the Victorian England ambience with sea shanties, and you have a great, unbeatable combo!The strolling singers continued to tickle my eardrums with their vocalizations when my food arrived. The crab cake sandwich was out-of-this-world! I loved the wonderful frosting and the layer of pineapple was just right. The linked onion rings were fantastic. Some of you may pull them apart before you eat them, but not I! No, I shove the entire thing in my mouth at once--a fried chain of delicious!Overall, I had another great experience at the reliable Shambles Steakhouse. The combination of food, atmosphere, music, and interpersonal dynamics among the waitstaff makes it THE steakhouse in the area. One would have to take a shuttle to colonized Mars to have a better dining experience. And so I enthusiastically award Shambles Steakhouse an almost-unheard-of FIVE PINEAPPLE RINGS!

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