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There's an affordable steak deficiency in Central Arkansas outside the chains. So finding another place to consume cow cooked properly within a 50-mile radius of the State Capitol for less than an arm or a leg is a big deal.
That's what we discovered at Gabe's Grill, a new-ish eatery in Bryant associated with the folks behind Gabriel's Catering. We stumbled in on a Wednesday night looking for sustenance, and boy did we get what we wanted.
Gabe's 8-ounce ribeye ($11.99; 14-ounce available for $17.99) comes well-seasoned and charred on one side. Its medium rare is more on the rare side than we're used to, but would suit some folks just fine. It came with a loaded baked potato with fresh cut green onions.
Other cowflesh on the menu: A New York Strip ($11.99 for the 8-ounce; $17.99 for the 14-ounce), sirloin ($9.99 and $15.99), a hamburger steak ($9.99), country fried steak ($8.99) and a one-pound T-bone ($18.99).
Non-beef entrees include a Cajun shrimp and chicken ($7.99) dish, an improbable but very edible selection of five shrimp rolled in flattened chicken and sprinkled with Cajun seasonings (somewhere on the Tony Chachere's side). They were a little salty for us.
The shrimp po' boy ($6.99) was another matter. Served on a soft bun instead of a French bread roll with tomatoes, red onions, pickles, lettuce, cocktail sauce, and coleslaw, it made for an excellent sandwich and good eating. Sandwiches come with chips or fries at no extra cost, but we asked for onion rings instead. They were battered in flour, pan-fried, and tasted as if they were seasoned with onion soup mix — which is not a bad thing.
We also tried the chicken tenders ($6.29), cooked in a flour-heavy batter that didn't crisp up as much as you might find from a deep-frying chain.
Our big treat of the night came at dessert, with a piece of homemade chocolate cake ($2.99). We're used to different definitions of homemade around here — many cakes seem to be of the Duncan Hines variety. This was not the case. Instead, we were treated to a baked chocolate cake that quite clearly had come from a family recipe, “iced” with a frosting consisting of cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar — the kind that cracks — and with a thin layer of vanilla butter cream in the middle.
This kicked-back restaurant tucked into a new strip mall next to Casa Mexicana could easily be overlooked, but we're keeping it in our Rolodex for future visits.
5311 Highway 5 N
Quick bite: They have barbecued ribs, too.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
No alcohol. Credit cards accepted.