The same day that I had picked up an old matchbook we ended up driving past the old Steak and Ale restaurant, and I was glad to see that someone had finally bought the building and brought it back to life. From the outside, it did not appear that they had made any major changes, as it has that quaint British feel to it. One could not ask for a busy intersection, it just always seemed an awkward location to get in and out of. The chain was from Dallas, Texas and they were one of the original affordable steak house ventures. They really did not do anything wrong, as far as I can fathom, the chain was just acquired and re-sold to several different mega-corporations and the restaurant got lost in the shuffle. I have heard in the past, that there was thoughts of bringing the chain back to life, but the longer it is gone, the harder that could be.
The funny thing about the restaurant is that the name was Jolly Ox, in areas that at the time would not allow alcoholic beverages to be part of the name of the business. They were after all an affordable steakhouse and there are many of those around to this day. Back in the hay-day of Steak and Ale, Prime Rib was the steak of choice, and it was at so many places back then. I am always surprised that this beef cut has slowly departed the landscape, perhaps it is because of the time it takes to prepare, or perhaps it can not achieve the high dollar that aged steaks now command. Suffice it to say, that I always had a full slice of Prime Rib and looked forward to the fresh horseradish that accompanied it. The only other thing that I really remember from Steak and Ale was there Honey Wheat Bread and the funny thing is that I am not a bread eater normally, but in a restaurant setting, I am.
At the time that we were there it was the height of the Australian Shiraz crest, and every restaurant and tavern seemed to pick up on that trend. I don’t recall the restaurant having that large of a wine list, and most of the wines were popular priced, which complimented the food that they were serving. We had Rosemount Estate Shiraz 2001, which is from South Eastern Australia; one of the largest designations or regions on the massive island. Actually the Shiraz varietal seems to have developed a niche or following, because it tends to be seen consistently even to this day. It is a natural for big beef dishes, as it can stand up to most of the cuts and even to most of the spices or cooking techniques. And I can still recall the crowds, especially in the bar section, while waiting for a table.