Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don Pepe Steakhouse: Two For One

We have been twice to Don Pepe's Steakhouse, near Pine Brook, NJ. Our first visit was in June, 2010. Our second was last week. It has been one of my parents' favorite dining spots over several years. I'll review the restaurant once, covering both visits.

Ostensibly a Spanish American restaurant, I would place it firmly in the category of American steakhouse with a few Spanish flourishes. The appetizers are among the more Spanish inflected items.

We were served good, warmed crusty bread, with a savory garlic butter and pimentón dressing.

A house specialty is "Spanish" potatoes, which are sort of homemade, well browned potato chips. I thought that they are a pleasant snack, but they are sort of one dimensional and uninteresting after a few morsels.

On the earlier visit to which my wife and I were invited, my mother chose her favorite dish; a 2 lb. steamed lobster. My father had a massive cut of steak, of which he gave me a taste. It was delicious.

Mom had her lobster broiled this time. I was given a taste. It was moist and sweet.

My wife and I both chose soft shelled crabs prepared in a butter and lemon sauce. We were very pleased with these.

At our more recent meal last week, two of our party had dietary restrictions, so that they were self limited in their choices. My father was missed, having passed away last year, but he was with us in spirit.
My mother chose "their" usual table, and I followed his example in ordering a fine steak. There's a good selection of steak cuts, some grander than the Chuletón de Ávila, but it was very good and more than I could finish. Nothing accompanies the steak, so I had a house salad, which was fine. I also drank a glass of California Cabernet Sauvignon Estrella del Río. ($5.50; a reasonable price for a generous glass.)

Chuletón de Ávila
My steak was densely textured, savory, and not the most tender, but that was no impediment to my eating it with pleasure. (There are larger cuts avilable.) I had a "baked" potato with it, which our waiter said would be cooked in the microwave, wrapped in plastic film. Normally I wouldn't choose that method of cooking, but it was serviceable in this instant.

Sister got a simply prepared filet of Tilapia, accompanied by steamed vegetables.

Sra. Cuevas requested boiled shrimp in the shell, accompanied by plain linguine. She reported that the shrimp and linguine were both perfectly cooked.

For dessert, Mom had Tortoni, an ice cream confection infused with almond. Sra. Cuevas and I both had a very pleasant Rice Pudding Brulée. Overall, I would say that desserts are a sort of pleasant afterthought.

Service was competent and informative*, but toward the latter part of our dining experience, rather less attentive. There was also a lapse in getting the wine list at the beginning of the meal, but when I asked a junior waiter, or perhaps he was a bus boy, the list soon arrived.
It also took several minutes to get our waiter's attention to bring the check.

* I should mention that at the outset, our waiter recited a very appealing list of specials, of which I may have chosen one, if I had not been so firmly fixed on having that steak.


Food: ****1/2

Service: ****

Ambience: Casual. See this photo: 

Price: As we were invited guests, I have no idea of the total bill. But I would place the average meal is the range of $$$ (Ten dollars U.S. per $ You can spend more without much difficulty)

Rest rooms: well kept.

Extensive wine list and bar.

Location: 58 Route 46 West
Pine Brook, NJ
Tel: 973-808-5533

1 comment:

Steve Cotton said...

I must admit, Spain and steak do not sound like a natural combination.  Rather like the notion of Japanese tacos.  But I guess everyone needs a gimmick in the restaurant trade.