The Steakhouse offers outstanding dining

Downtown Hammond offers several dining choices, and new on the scene is The Steakhouse. Located in one of the area’s historic and quaint buildings, it has previously been home to other restaurants. Take a table near the front windows and look out across the street to another landmark, SLU’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. The marquee tells passers-by who’s coming to town next.

Inside, diners will find an intimate atmosphere, with about a dozen small and larger tables, white lights draping one of the exposed-brick walls, lit candles on all the tables, and jazz music playing softly in the background. Jazz-themed posters decorate the walls, and a long bar anchors a rear corner.

We whetted our appetites with a half-dozen charbroiled oysters ($12.50). The oysters arrived in their half-shells, each topped with a crusty round of toasted bread. The tender shellfish were swimming in a buttery sauce and topped with parmesan cheese. Quite good, the bread was great for dipping in the sauce once the oysters were eaten.

Steaks are one of the specialties of chef/owner Blake Kinchen and sous chef Jacob Dufreche. Diners order their beef by the ounce and by the cut — rib-eye, New York strip or filet mignon.

A guest chose the 12-ounce filet ($33), adding a topping of sauteed mushrooms for $4.50 more. The filet was cooked to a perfect medium rare, seared to a pleasing crispiness on the outside, and very tender and juicy on its interior. No steak sauce was needed here, nor were the mushrooms, which served instead as a generous, flavorful side dish, the mushrooms being sauteed in a subtle wine and butter mixture. The steaks are accompanied by a soup or side salad, and on this cold and rainy night, we picked the soup of the day, a steaming crab and corn bisque. The soup was accented with bits of green onion and filled with tender crab in a creamy, flavorful base.

The Steakhouse takes the American standard macaroni and cheese to a new level. The dish ($7) offered penne pasta tossed in a blend of cheeses and sprinkled with crumbled bacon, and was enough for the three of us to share.

The restaurant also has several seafood choices and we opted for the thin-fried catfish platter ($14). Eight quite thin and lightly battered and fried portions of fish were nested on a bed of fresh spinach leaves. The fish was nicely seasoned and satisfied a craving for this ever-popular area fish dish. The loaded sweet potato ($4) was the perfect complement to the fish. Piping hot, its soft interior was mixed with sugar, cinnamon and butter.

Another guest ordered the 10-ounce strip ($22.50), and added the lump crabmeat topping for an extra $5.50. She was quite glad, it turned out, that the crab was served in a separate dish, as it had a strong, fishy, pre-frozen taste. Its appearance was more of a shredded crabmeat, not lump at all. This proved the only hiccup in our otherwise outstanding meals.

The house salad accompanying this steak featured fresh mixed greens, bell pepper, cucumber and tomato, all topped with a creamy, homemade-tasting ranch dressing.

A guest particularly enjoyed the sweet iced tea, as we’ve found many eateries don’t succeed at this Southern staple.

Having mentioned earlier that the evening we dined at The Steakhouse it was chilly and wet outside, it should be noted that these old buildings tend to be drafty. Don’t forget the outer wear.