steak grows up

Joseph’s is your typical Midwestern steak house, by way of finishing school. (Come to think of it, isn’t this an apt descriptor for the entire town?) Big cuts of meat. Family sides. Appetizers made to share, and the kind that most steakhouses traffic in: onion rings, calamari, shrimp cocktail — only what’s this? Lobster spring rolls? That’s finishing school for you.

With funky neighborhood places like Devotay and Hearth less than five blocks away, Joseph’s is one of the least imaginative restaurants in town. But you don’t always need or want imaginative. Sometimes you want a 12-ounce tenderloin, or maybe a 14-ounce New York strip, you’re not sure, and doesn’t that giant porterhouse sound incredible — and if so, this is where you go. (You can go in good conscience, too: their steaks come from vegetarian organically-fed Angus cows, and the chicken are all free range.)

We’ve visited Joseph’s several times since move-in last summer, and with perhaps one exception, it always lives up to expectations. And even though my “not imaginative” charge may sound like a rag, you should have pretty high expectations. Excellent (and excellently cooked) meat. A pretty dining room. An excellent libations menu, from the extensive cocktail selection to a wine list with points of entry for both young professionals and, you know, presidential candidates. And if I’ve had few flat-out transcendent dishes there — though my rack of Easter lamb was truly marvelous — there have been scores of delicious ones. Especially when you order a round of their justifiably famous Boursin-whipped potatoes.

But before you book: a word about price. This place is expensive. There are some wallet-friendly wines around the $30 mark — and of course, glasses for less — but when the cheapest steak is $25 and starters average $15, you’re not going to stroll in for a “bargain” bottle.  Sure, you could get the chicken for $20, but why bother? The handful of times we’ve been was when someone else was footing the bill. (Thanks, parents!) These finishing school slabs of meat are worth it, when you have the craving and the means — but don’t kill yourself trying to get there.

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