I have a daughter who recently spent six months in Argentina where she gave up her vegetarian ways and became a fan of grass fed beef. Her boyfriend was in town last night, and she wanted my wife and I to treat them to some MN corn fed beef to see how it would compare (she just wanted us to treat the two to a nice meal). We decided to go to Lindy's Prime Steak House in Arden Hills.
In the early sixties I worked as a busboy at a fancy restaurant just down the road from Lindy's, and I was alway suprised at the crowd they would gather. They don't take reservations, so people would get their names on the list, buy a six pack of beer from the liquor store in Lindy's basement, and sit drinking in the woods around the parking lot waiting for a table. My first visit to Lindy's was July 12th, 1977 - I remember the date because I took my wife-to-be there for her 21st birthday.
For those of you not familiar with Lindy's, they serve three items - ground sirloin, sirloin (end cuts) and special sirlon (center cut). With your steak you get a salad of chopped iceberg lettuce with a tomato wedge (although last night it was a cherry tomato, probably due to the ungodly price of tomatoes right now. I bought some tomatoes at Rainbow last week and they charged $3.99/lb. When they asked me "paper or plastic?", I replied that at these prices I would like to have them gift wrapped.) The only choice of salad dressing resembles a Thousand Island dressing without the islands. A plattter of "greaseless hashbrowned potatoes" is set on the table along with a basket of garlic hot dog buns, and each diner gets a watermelon pickle.
I started with a gin martini, and it was good, a true crystal yum-yum. We all ordered the special sirloin done medium rare, and my daughter selected a very nice bottle of wine. The salads were, as usual, insipid. Why not a steakhouse classic wedge of iceberg with a homemade Thousand Island? Where is the classic creamed spinich? The potatoes had good flavor, and the garlic hot dog buns were tasty. The steaks however were not even cooked to the rare stage (80% of the meat was ice cold) and had to be returned for further cooking. When you only serve three items, this is unacceptable. The tab before tip was over $150.00. We did bring a lot of food home.
My daughter didn't think that the beef was up to the standards of Argentina - it was tender, but had little flavor. I agreed. In fact, her boyfirend asked for steak sauce - I tried to talk him out of it but the poor lad is only 22 and doesn't know any better. They brought him a bottle of Heinz 57 that was 1/3rd full, and had about two year's worth of crust on the neck of the bottle.
On a visit to Argentina I had reservations that the beef would be tough and flavorless because it is grass fed, and would not have the marbling achieved by running the steer throught a grain feed lot to fatten him up. I was wrong. The beef in Argentina was wonderful.
It will probably be another thirty or so years before we return to Lindy's. By that time I will be so old that I will have forgotten last night's experience.