The Tenderloin Room was the latest stop on our tour of local steakhouses. Ensconced in the elegance of The Chase Park Plaza, the restaurant has long been a destination for visiting celebrities like Frank Sinatra and George Clooney, as well as dignitaries of all types. Though it's been around a good long while, this classy eatery has lost none of its luster.
There's nothing like sipping on a well-prepared rye Manhattan ($8) and taking in the rich, dark charm of the dining room while Ol’ Blue Eyes croons in the background. The service was every bit as classic and understated as the room itself. Our waiter, decked out in a somber suit and tie, somehow always appeared at the table just as we needed something or had a question about the menu. Appetizers and desserts were wheeled over on carts for perusal, a favorite old-school tradition of ours. While service was attentive, it wasn't overwhelming and we were afforded plenty of elbow room without anyone hovering over us obsessively cleaning up our crumbs like some staff at high-end restaurants tend to do.
We started with the Crab Cakes ($15). Though not on the official menu, these melt-in-your-mouth cakes are a frequent special item. Next up, a pair of nicely balanced Greek Salads ($7), featuring greens tossed with plum tomatoes, red onions, Greek olives and just enough feta cheese to be tangy but not overpowering.
Of course, when visiting a steakhouse one must get steak, and we opted for one of the restaurant's signature offerings, the Pepperloin a la Tenderloin ($38). We got a plate of strips of perfectly prepared rare tenderloin marinated, char-broiled and served with the signature Tenderloin Room sauce, tasting of simmered wine and cognac. This dish paired oh-so-nicely with a half-bottle of 2010 Steele Pinot Noir ($26).
Everyone has their own version of comfort food, and one dish that falls into this category for us is liver. That said, it can be easily mangled, leaving just a leathery slab with an aftertaste like a mouthful of pennies. The Prime Calf's Liver ($20) at the Tenderloin Room was anything but, and quite possibly the best version of this dish we've had. It consisted of two liver steaks, pan seared just until tender, then topped with onions and seared bacon. The onions added a sweetness to the darker flavor of the meat, while the bacon provided just a touch of salt without overwhelming the main attraction.
During our visit, the available sides were broccoli and twice-backed potatoes, both of which complemented the entrees nicely, and a slice of the Neopolitan Cheesecake ($8), served with a little bit of raspberry drizzled on the plate, provided a rich and sweet counterpoint to all of that meat to wrap things up.
There have been many times when we've dined at a ‘landmark’ restaurant and walked away wondering just how the place had stayed in business so long. Driving home from The Tenderloin Room, that question was the farthest thing from our minds.
The Tenderloin Room, 232 N. Kingshighway, 361-0900, tenderloinroom.com