Monday, May 18, 2009

The Drover

Restaurant: The Drover
Address: 2121 South 73rd Street
Genres: Steak
Check Constraints: None seen
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • Pork Chop ($13.95)
    • Salad Bar
    • Cottage Cheese
It is clear - both from the website and the context of the paper menus we received - that the Drover's lunch menu is a pale and pitiful reflection of its dinner one. The flimsy paper forerunner for lunch concerned itself mainly with sandwiches and moderate fare, but as is evident from their site, the robust dinner menu prides itself on having $30 steak. Let me tell you this, though; if the dinner's as good as the lunch? It's probably worth it.

In all seriousness, the lunch menu is probably an excellent way to get a good meal out of the Drover without paying high prices. The steak on the lunch menu, as Mecha will attest, is only $12, and there are several other grilled favorites there in that price range.

Since I am currently - still? again? whatever - watching my food intake, I opted for the pork chop with the salad bar and the relatively healthy option of cottage cheese. Well, initially I opted for the prime rib, but they were out of it. A mild interrogation of our server revealed that they receive the meat daily in time for dinner, and then cut it as necessary. If there's any remaining, it's sold at lunch the next day. The tone in her voice indicated this is a rare occurrence, with the notable exception of Wednesdays, when Whiskey Prime Rib is the special. If that Thursday was like any other, the special then was meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

But I ordered the pork chop, and that is what I will review. First I should mention the salad bar, though. If forced to pick a single term to define it, I'd go with "traditional". It had iceberg lettuce, green peppers, cucumbers, and olives, among a few other toppings, most notably beets. I'm not sure at what point my brain classified these as "traditional" salad bar fare, but it seems to me that when I was a child all salad bars seemed to have these dark red taste-bud landmines. Of course, now that I like them, it's actually difficult to find them anymore. Regardless, the salad bar's only real failing was the iceberg lettuce. The fresh cracked peppercorns (located on the top of the bar itself) were an extra plus that should not be ignored.

The pork chop, which at the server's suggestion was cooked to medium, was delicious. There was good flavor to it, and just enough fat remaining around the edges to give an added boost of flavor at times. It was bone-in, though the bone wasn't obtrusive, and the meat had a good amount of moisture still in it. If I were a man who truly feared trichinosis I'd have ordered it sent back and scorched, but I never saw the need to cook all the moisture out of an already lean meat. Regardless of personal preference, if you like your pork cooked to death, the plate comes with cinnamon applesauce for added moisture. Nothing too special about it, but certainly not bad. It also comes with two slices of grilled toast, and - as garnish, apparently - a slice of what we surmised was spiced apple. A strange rarity, and though you're probably not supposed to eat it, we all did.

In short, it's definitely worth a visit here at lunch, and if you've got the scratch for it, probably dinner as well. That said, I know that one's choice of steakhouse is a matter of often no less than religious import in this city; keep in mind that I didn't have the steak here. I'll leave it to the others to tackle that.

  • Beefy Cheese Sandwich ($9.25)
    • Cottage Cheese
  • Cup of Beer Cheese Soup (Soup of the day) ($3.25)
Those apple rings were standard Christmas apple rings. If they're not made to be eaten, nothing is. Delicious. What's also delicious is their beer cheese soup, by the way. It was very thick, nearly to the point of forming soft-peaks, and it was fabulous. Thick and cheesy, with strong smoky flavor and bits of very good ham, with just a tiny bit of celery, and a good beer flavor throughout. I don't think I could take a full bowl of it, but as a cup of soup, this is as good as it gets.

I grabbed cottage cheese with my beefy cheesy sandwich. I continue to be amazed that Mecha didn't realize that serving cottage cheese with a pineapple ring was traditional. I don't know how he could not know this. It was a little less than properly cold, but it wasn't warm like I got at McKenna's. If you do not love cottage cheese as much as I do, go with the fries, because the plate comes with a big dipping cup of quite good barbeque sauce, and you are NOT going to want to put it on the sandwich.

The sandwich is on toast, just crisp enough to more or less withstand the onslaught of melted cheese and prime rib juice. The meat is a reasonable portion of prime rib, cooked medium rare or so, and sliced thin, with swiss cheese on one side and cheddar on the other. All the flavors blend together superbly, with the cheese managing to always be there without even coming close to overshadowing the flavor of the prime rib. If you want a sandwich, get this sandwich. It is king of cheese and beef sandwich. If I ever taste a better sandwich, I may die of the explosion of awesome in my mouth. And if you put barbecue on it, then may whatever god you believe in have mercy, because I will not.

Lunch, dinner, if you want steak, this is a good place to go. Well worth the money.

  • Luncheon Steak ($11.50)
    • Fries
  • Beer Cheese Soup
Pineapples are from the tropics! Cottage Cheese isn't! I don't know how that doesn't seem weird to anyone else. Ahem.

The Beer Cheese Soup was a 'Soup of the Day' as well, so it's unclear what kind of soups they have other days (although Chili seems always on the menu.) The soup, however, had a strong beer flavor note (which not all beer cheese soups have!) as well as the smoky cheese and ham flavors ND mentioned above. It kind of reminds me, texture-wise, of a thick cheese salsa, complete with blobbing on the top instead of just flowing back together. It's very good, though. Hopefully their other daily soups are as good.

The steak was a fairly small portion (7 oz) but as steaks go, this is about as well made as it gets. A thin layer of browned/blackened on the outside, and then a large area of medium-rare inside (I ordered it medium-rare). It had excellent flavor for a steak, and I ate it in thin slices, slowly to get the most out of it. The fries are normal long squareish fries, neither too thick or too thin, and tasted like the fries at a chain of steak houses back in my home town, so I'm figuring it's standard steak house fare on that front (as opposed to big honkin' steak fries) and they went well with ND's BBQ sauce. I also got the candied apple (and it was good) and some buttered (and maybe garliced lightly? We theorized it might have tasted garliced from what was cooked in that oven earlier, it was so light on the garlic flavor to ND and Cham's taste.)

On the overall, it was a good place to go eat a lunch and get some real flavor. The speed was a little slow (not annoyingly so, just noticeable) but that probably happens sometimes. I really am curious what the dinner looks like, though. Another time, perhaps.

  • Beefy Cheese ($9.25)
    • Coleslaw
  • Texas Chili ($4.00)
The chili was good. You have the choice to add onions and cheese. I picked both, but could have done without the onions. They ended up a bit overpowering. It was nearly a beanless chili, and not too thick or runny. It's not a bad choice, but you could probably do better for the money with the cheese soup, from what I hear.

The Beefy Cheese sandwich was amazing, and disappeared way too quickly. It came on two regular pieces of buttered toast, didn't seem terribly large. It had plenty of flavor, however. It came with a side of BBQ sauce as ND mentioned. It wasn't bad sauce, but it was way too strong for the sandwich. I tried maybe a third the sandwich with it (I'm a fan of BBQ), but it really overpowered everything else. The sandwich has a really good flavor all by itself. The coleslaw was pretty bland and not terribly creamy. I would pick fries as the side next time.

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