I’ve been eating a lot of steak lately. When I started this “On the Road” theme, I thought that might be the case; there are myriad small town steakhouses in the area. And while I believe steak to be an inherently good food, there is one specific steak that I’ve thought about, seriously, every day since I ate it.
The rib eye at Archie’s.
I’d eaten at Archie’s Waeside twice before, so I knew what I was getting into when Megan and I pulled into in Le Mars, Iowa for dinner earlier this month: a whole lot of awesome.
The whole experience of eating here has a kitschy feeling to it. Dickens Village Houses adorn the walls, servers wheel metal carts around, dinners are served with a relish tray that includes cubed Velveeta (and used to also include shaved corned beef!), fresh-made, thick-cut onion rings, enormous crab legs sliced lengthways for easy access, there’s a full array of old-school ice cream cocktails (Golden Cadillac, Pink Squirrel, etc.) available in the bar area (you’ll likely spend some time here, as reservations are only accepted for groups of six or more, and we’ve had waits to be seated each time).
Now a third-generation, family-owned steakhouse, Archie’s specializes in dry-aging and cutting their own meat. They do it right there in the same building as the restaurant. Their menu comes with a warning that the cook seasons your steak, they won’t be held responsible for it’s taste if you’re going to do anything dumb like put steak sauce or “catsup” on it, and they definitely won’t be held responsible if you’re going to ruin the thing by ordering it well-done. I love that (see below).
Now, getting back to the rib eye.
I’ve waited this long (two weeks) to write this post because I’m having a hard time settling on how to describe this for you. But even as I was eating, thinking ‘This is the best steak I’ve ever had in my life!’, clearly knowing and currently tasting what I was eating, with every bite I was STILL surprised at how good it was. Megan can confirm this; I’m sure I told her no fewer than 47 times during our meal. Great marble, outstanding cut with just enough fat, a sear and slight crust that was oh-so-good.
But you know what else it was? Simple. Just the most glorious piece of steak ever. Nothing more.
And if the best steak ever isn’t worth a 75-minute drive, I don’t know what is.