Friday, October 13, 2006

Cafeteria Style Steak House

13 October 2006-
Tad's Steakhouse: 120 Powell Street in San Francisco
Cost: $5.79 (cheeseburger, includes salad and baked potato)

Image Source: blogger's own

There was a time in my adolescence when I distinctly recall the sensory experience of York Steak House, a popular steak house chain on the East Coast. The experience of eating there was more than just about the food, the steaks, salads, the baked potatoes and desserts. I also remember the maze-like labyrinth of a line, with wood panelling and steak memorabilia and other props which resembled a fortress or a castle. The line seemed to meander endlessly for about an hour during prime time dinner hours. Once you are fortunate enough to arrive to the front, everyone picks up a tray, their utensils, steak knives and napkins and then enter the service line where one is given the freedom of choosing their entrees in classic buffet style, except it seemed more like an embellished and longer cafeteria line. The line moved at a snail's pace, so that you could order your steak and grilling preference, and have it served to you by the time you made it to the cash register.

I think it was a great business strategy - force hungry people into a line, as dense and long as an amusement park line, deprived of any visual stimulation and fresh air; and wait. After an hour, shepard them into another line, except force feed them with the most delicious, visual, olfactory and aural stimulation and let them go bananas choosing already prepared dishes to choose from and have them pay before they get a table, before they realize maybe they already got too much food, which is most oftentimes the case.

The experience of being served at Tad's Steakhouse is similar enough to ignite some nostalgia. Except, rather there's no visual, or olfactory anticipation as you wait in each of the staged holding chambers. Instead, potential diners are greeted with a simple, plain menu (it's a steakhouse, but they only have one cut of steak, 'Tad's Special Cut') and you can catch a glimpse of the gaudy (not Gaudi) art-deco, neo-trash interior. If you're lucky, you'd turn right around and walk out the door.

For the not so fortunate ones, on your immediate left are the trays and utensils, and a sign that reads, "napkins located at tables". Therefore, one's forced to place the utensils directly on the trays for more than '3 seconds'. Personally, I'd feel a little better if I had one or two layers of napkin for separation.

Verdict: As my introduction conveys, the menu at Tad's is very limited, and basic. There's basically only one burger, one type of cheese, no bacon, no fries and no requisite condiments. Although all the tables are equipped with an array of bottled condiments, the mayo (upon request) comes in squeezable packages. All orders (entrees) are served with a baked potato and an institutional salad mix; very similar to the kind served at public schools and prisons.

I could taste the open-flamed charbroiled patty from the first bite. But as the meal progressed however, I was thinking about how similar the burger tasted to a McDonald's cheeseburger. Tad's is really more of a dive than a "steakhouse". The experience of eating there is like a time capsule from the fifties. I doubt much has changed about the decor, or their menu over the years. The food is reasonably priced however, just don't expect much if you go.

No comments: