New England Dining Reviews >>> Jimmy's Steer House, Arlington, MA
Jimmy's Steer House, Arlington, MA (photo by Eric H.)
Article and photos by Eric H.
If you think that dining out at affordable steak houses equates to frequenting chains like Outback Steakhouse, Bugaboo Creek Steak House and Longhorn Steak House, there are more restaurant options, locally, than "meat the eye."
One "prime" example of a wonderfully-run local steak house is Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington, MA. Jimmy's, a local dining landmark since the late 1970s, keeps on passing with honors from its old-school dining curriculum by serving up flavorful, tender steaks that rival the best of Boston steakhouses we've dined at through the years. With just about all it's dishes under $20.00, you'd be challenged to find this type of quality steak, unless you're willing to pay a premium at those high-end, high-profile overly expensive Boston steakhouses.
Wrongly categorized as a restaurant that caters to locals with an average age of about 120, Jimmy's far surpasses its undeserved "early-bird special," senior-set label. The truth is, Jimmy's appeals to virtually every generation, as evidenced by the people of all ages that always seem to have a good time and kind words to say about what is ultimately a family restaurant.
Not much has changed at Jimmy's since the 1970s, and that's a good thing. Although the former segregated L-shaped dining rooms have given way to one large dining room along with a separate bar and smaller dining section, Jimmy's still has the look of a restaurant from the time when we'd race home from a restaurant dinner to watch Mork and Mindy and Taxi. The vinyl booths, wood tables, carpeted floors, and semi-dim lighting lend a familiarity on par with the straightforward steak, chicken and seafood menu.
With an extremely sharp, efficient management, host and wait staff paving the way to a distraction-free dining experience, all that's left is for one to enjoy each other's company and terrific food -- the way it should be when dining out. The only "line" you'll get here is one out the door, given Jimmy's popularity during lunch and dinner. Jimmy's is incredibly popular after church on Sunday or after graduation ceremonies, but come to think of it, Jimmy's is also incredibly popular just about any other time during hours of operation.
For starters, the appetizers look just as good as those you see in the corporate chain restaurant television commercials, but rarely personally experience when going to those same places. We recommend the mouthwatering potato skins with cheddar cheese and bacon bits, fried mozzerella sticks with a very good marinara dipping sauce, and the hand-cut chicken fingers that seem to be a notch above the norm.
Although tempting, we recommend not asking for seconds of the delicious, free homemade rolls. Unless you have the appetite of Guy Fieri, you'll be too stuffed for the worthy main course meal. We recommend one roll along with a very good iceberg salad (with the option of a good heaping of fresh feta cheese).
Past dining experiences at Jimmy's have been highlighted with lean, flavorful servings of burgers, marinated steak tips, filet mignon with Bernaise sauce, and Kansas City prime rib. After an unexplainable long hiatus from dining at Jimmy's, we picked up right where we left off with some delicious terriyaki steak with not an ounce of fat. It was a true value at around $15.00. And for those who feel a side dish of seasoned rice must always accompany steak, you'll love the perfectly-created rice pilaf. It's an abundant serving of Greek-style rice that has homemade written all over it.
Red meat reigns at Jimmy's, but knowledgable customers have known, through the years, that the chicken, pork and seafood dishes rank right up there, too. For pork lovers, the baby back ribs bring out an outstanding flavor, not always available in the suburban dining scene. The lobster pie is full of real lobster chunks and the right mix of butter and breading. The same can be said for the satisfying, amply-served crabmeat pie. The wonderfully-conceived Stuffed Chicken Messina features chicken stuffed with Italian cheeses, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and mushroom marinara sauce.
The dessert menu is limited, but the servings sure aren't whether it's a hot fudge brownie sundae or "Jimmy's Avalanche" with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and roasted pecans. Jimmy's also serves a rice pudding strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake and Mississippi mud pie.
Jimmy's also has an fairly extensive wine and beer list. The wine ranges from a basic Crane Lake-Napa white wine to a more sophisticated Chianti "Riserva", Sensi from Italy. Beer selections include six drafts and and 14 "bottled" beers.
It's nice to dine at an institution, instead of being placed in one after suffering through an overly-expensive meal with plenty of attitude and pretentiousness. Jimmy's, on the other hand, proves that you don't have to possess a Phd or act like an elitist when cooking a good steak. After all, we grew up feasting on delicious steaks prepared by relative novices at family outings. Jimmy's takes that family outing experience to the next level by treating you like family while serving their perfected steak, chicken and seafood dishes within classic, comfortable retro dining surroundings.
You've heard that phrase "familiarity breeds contempt," but in Jimmy's case, familiarity has brought in local crowds for years, in love with real food at really good prices. It's really the ultimate local steak house experience.
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