I’m glad we have Peterson’s—we have so many chain steakhouses in Indy, it is nice to have one that is locally owned. Unfortunately my steak connoisseur son will not get to try it for several years because you have to be 21 and over to eat there. He was a little annoyed about this, as it is his personal goal to eat at all the steakhouses in town.
Anyway, we were celebrating my sister and her hubby’s birthdays and my brother-in-law loves steak, so it seemed like a good time to give it another try (my parents were with us as well). I like the interior of the place (and hey, I am not complaining that there aren’t more kids in there). I was sort of surprised how loud it was, but it was quite busy, which is a nice thing to see.
My sister and hubby got there before we did and placed an order for the tempura lobster fingers ($16). I have had these several times before and they are always good. How can you go wrong with freshly tempura-fried lobster? They were fresh, and tender and dipped in the accompanying honey mustard (they also give you drawn butter), they are delicious.
Hubby and I then ordered our own appetizers, the tuna tartare for me ($15) and oysters Rockefeller for hubby ($20). My tuna was disappointing. It was just calling out for some sort of acid. The tuna was good quality, but seemed fairly unseasoned (even though the menu describes it as “sweet chili tuna”). There was a sweet soy type sauce underneath and some sliced daikon on top. After eating the first chip worth, and a furtive glance around the table, I grabbed hubby’s lemon and squeezed some on my tuna. Much better.
Hubby’s oysters were great though. For classic oysters Rockefeller (spinach, cream, Romano cheese and Pernod), these are some of the best in town I think. They oysters are a decent size, but not huge so they are still tender and easy to eat. Very rich and creamy and well done. I also had a bite (o.k., several) of my sister’s clam chowder ($8), which was the soup of the day. I have to say, this was really good as well. Super chunky with lots of pieces of clam and very well seasoned. Not a bit of salt or pepper necessary. It had a nice peppery bite to it.
Normally hubby and I would split a steak at this kind of place because they are usually so big, but we couldn’t agree on which to order, so he got a ribeye ($43) and I had a filet ($35). Both steaks were really very good. Peterson’s definitely knows steaks—they are prime and they are cooked well. Mine was so tender that I was really glad I had gotten it, even though hubby’s was very good as well (just a little firmer). Ok, his was maybe cooked slightly beyond the medium rare he ordered, but the meat is so good, it was still very good. Honestly, I think there is a chance that they mixed up a couple of the steaks at the table because my brother-in-law ordered his slightly more cooked.
I liked the au gratin potatoes ($9) on this trip—in the past I have complained that Peterson’s sides weren’t that good, but I enjoyed these. They weren’t’ exactly what I think of when I think of au gratin, because they were cubed and baked with cream instead of sliced, which was what I was expecting. It also didn’t hurt that they were topped with crumbled Smoking Goose bacon. They were my favorite side.
We also ordered Brussels sprouts ($7) based on the awesome ones I had lately, and also based on more of the Smoking Goose bacon being included, but unfortunately these were too undercooked for me, and honestly, I couldn’t really taste the bacon. They were halved, and just not cooked through. Finally, we had some of the King crab mac and cheese ($11) which I also really enjoyed, although from what I could tell, there wasn’t a ton of crab in there. The mac and cheese tasted good and had a nice crumb topping though—it was a white cheddar and fontina cheese sauce and was rich and tasted great with the steak.
Ok, so that was the meal. I would say my overall impressions is that they do old school items very well—and their steaks on the whole are top notch. My biggest problem of the evening? The service. They were really busy and it seemed like our server was sort of in the weeds all night—we sat there holding our menus for way too long (we still had them when our apps came because we hadn’t yet ordered our main dishes) (and they have those really large menus that are awkward). It also took forever to get our wine. And while he seemed like he was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food, he seemed to disappear for long periods of time (at least from our table). It sort of all made sense when we got the bill and there was an automatic 20% gratuity added to our check (which he did not point out to us, luckily hubby caught it). I thought this was kind of weak considering there were only 6 of us and I have never seen an auto gratuity of 20% (that seemed excessive particularly due to the bad service). I feel like our service suffered so much because he knew he was getting a good tip no matter what he did. I realize I sound annoyed, and I was. Very. We are normally generous tippers, but when service is this bad, I do not generally leave 20%. I know I talked to some of you about this on twitter already, but what do you all think? Do you think service suffers when an automatic gratuity is being added? Servers, do you worry about those tables just a little less? Is it legitimate to cross out an automatic tip and write in a new lower one? I know you can add to it, but can you subtract from it? I would love to hear what some of the restaurant people out there think too.
Ok, enough of my rant, but unfortunately the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, even though the food was on the whole pretty good.
7690 E 96th Street