Tuesday Steak Night at Community Bar in Midtown

commbar steak.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Steak night at Community Bar, December 2010 -- fantastic
Steak night, like football, is practically an inalienable right in Houston. Growing up as a carnivore, it's one of the things I love about our great food city. If you know where to look, every night each week, there are restaurants offering up unbelievable steak dinner deals, usually involving a 12- to 16-ounce steak and a mashed potato or side of fries, for $12 to $17.

A favorite among my friends has been Tuesday nights at The Community Bar in Midtown. For $17, you get a 16-ounce rib eye topped with chimichurri sauce, and sides of mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and grilled pineapple. It sounds a little haphazard, but the first time I tried it, more than a year ago when the Community Bar's Chef Bob was still in residence, it was freakin' fantastic. So fantastic that when some friends of mine came in from out of town last Tuesday night, and I wanted to show them a little piece of what makes Houston so great, I took them to the Community Bar for Steak Night.

Community Bar looks like an icehouse. The modest, one-story wooden building sits close to Smith Street, so that on most nights, you can just pull your car up directly in front of the building and walk right in.

communitybar1.jpg
The vibe inside is chill -- pictured: gin and tonic.
The scene that greeted us was classic Houston. To the side of the building, a cook was grilling steaks on a gas grill outside, and the smell was good enough to make your mouth water. On the patio, small groups of friends were lazily enjoying the fall weather, drinking beer or some other drink of choice, and dining on steak. Inside, the reddish glow from the bar gave the place some ambience, while the awesome sound system blasted a great music selection, setting the scene for our little reunion.

Community Bar has a normal menu, but on Steak Night, you can only order the steak special because they aren't equipped for anything else. All three of us ordered the Steak Night special and then got down to the business of catching up on all the years since we'd seen each other. In spite of my enjoyment, I noticed that it took an inordinate amount of time for the steak to arrive. And sadly, when it did, it didn't come anywhere near the memory of the gourmet-tasting, delicious steak I'd had in the past.

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My steak last Tuesday bore little resemblance to my first visit (pictured at top).
The first offense was the temperature. My steak was lukewarm, not piping hot off the grill as I remembered, and the meat was tough instead of tender. It was obvious that the steak had been sitting out for some time before making it to our table. The plate wasn't quite so appetizing, either. The mashed potatoes were runny, the plate looking like something you'd get in a cafeteria line, with the sides just dumped onto the plate. I was disappointed and embarrassed. I had raved about this really great steak night which turned out to be a total bust. My friends, who didn't have anything to compare it to, couldn't have been nicer about it, but I really had a hard time masking my disappointment (I made up for it by taking them to Uchi for dessert).

Now before you go on about how I shouldn't be complaining about a $17 steak dinner, which was a steal for the sheer quantity of food we received, I'm really just sad that something that used to be so good turned into something much less than mediocre. Perhaps the fact that Chef Bob is no longer there contributed to the decline in quality, or perhaps we just had some bad luck and it was an off night. Whatever the case, I hope they improve soon.

In the meantime, I need to find myself another good steak night in Houston. Anyone care to point me in the right direction?



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Location Info

Community Bar

2703 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Uchi

904 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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31 comments
chefbob123
chefbob123

Chefbob is now around the corner at midtown drinkery still rocking out killer steaks on thurs nights and at the Washington drinkery on wed nights

mark.t.tran
mark.t.tran

glitter karaoke on wednesday nights.  karaoke and ribeyes, what better way to spend a wednesday evening.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Too bad about your experience, but I've been about 4 times in the past 3 months and had excellent steak cooked a perfect rare and great sides every time.

Catherine
Catherine

It would be nice to assume you will always get the same quality every time you order your steak. I've learned through the years that because of the cheap price you pay, the real cost ends up being the unpredictable quality and taste of your meal.

With that being said, one of the absolute best steak nights in town is just down the street from Community on Monday nights at Saint Dane's Bar & Grille (502 Elgin). For ten dollars, you get  a steak and two sides. I'm sure your thinking for ten dollars it can't be that great, but after going there on Mondays for over three years now, (I'm usually parked at the bar intensely focused on one of their touch screen video games) I can honestly say that their steaks continue to surprise me week after week. They are seasoned so perfectly that I've never even thought of letting the A1 bottle get close to my table. Now, I will admit that there have been a few nights that have left me disappointed just as Mai was with her last night at Community, but those were so few and far between that I didn't let them hold me back from writing this review or going back for more again and again.

Unfortunately, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here when I listen to everyone sing the praises of Under the Volcanoes Tuesday steak nights. I've been there five times, and I have never enjoyed the taste of their steaks. I went after reading Rob's first article praising the quality and value, just to be let down every time. I don't know what it is, but the steak could never stand alone. I kept going back hoping it would change and even taking my family once, but it never got better. The ambiance and their heavenly salad dressing, (that's great on the baked potatoes too) almost makes up for their steak fail. However, considering that the whole purpose of the night/trip/dinner is to eat a great steak, the steak should be able to stand completely alone, without anything needed  to apologies for its shortcomings,

ShutUpAndEat
ShutUpAndEat

Red Lion has a fan-friggin'-tastic $18 filet mignon deal on Thursdays.

 

If you're on a budget, PJs has a Thursday steak night with 2 steaks, 2 baked potatoes, 2 salads and a pitcher of beer for a penny-saving $25.

 

Also, Wednesday Pork Chop Night at Grif's is definitely worth a visit. Go hungry,

Duncan McAlynn
Duncan McAlynn

Christians Tailgate, Thursdays. $1/oz hand cut grill side. Comes with baked potato and salad. Don't forget the grilled shrimp too!

ekrenek
ekrenek

What about Hay Merchant's steak night on Tuesday? Haven't tried it yet, but based on everything else I've ordered there, I'm going to bet it's solid. Their rib night on Wednesday may be even more tempting though!

Jeff Hunter
Jeff Hunter

It was the Tavern. Anyone know where those steaks are now?

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I have yet to go to a steak night that has ever been worthy of recommending, and I did try the Community bar's Steak night 3 years ago.  They're never very good, typically full of gritle, and not even worth $10, much less $17.

 

If you want a good steak, save the extra $10-20 bucks and go to an actual steakhouse.  Or do it at home; and avoid the grill.  They tend to mess up perfectly good steaks, anyway. 

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

$17 for a (observed from the picture) fatty piece of meat, some runny mashed potatoes, and a cup of corn, no thanks....You can purchase a decent NY Strip at HEB, and make a loaded baked potato and corn at home for $10, and yes, I know its about supporting the local beer joint, but if they are going to make that kind of slide in a short period of time, they are in no way thinking about the patrons....

FRL713
FRL713

Hideaway does steak night twice a week and attracts quite the crowd.

cazzocomprato
cazzocomprato

I've heard that Under the Volcano and Leon's Lounge (same owners) have a decent steak night.

New one near Memorial Park, place called Bubba's.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

I got a tip on where to find Chef Bob. He's now at the Washington Drinkery and Midtown Drinkery (same owner), and he's doing steak night for $17 at both locations. Wed at Washington location, Thu at Midtown location and here are the deets: 14 oz Ribeye, sriracha pineapple, south texas chimichurri (sides can change)

Salvie
Salvie

I'm a fan of Phoenicia Downtown's steak night and it's only $12.  Plus, they often have live music!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @Kylejack Like I said, I wasn't sure if it was just an off night. Glad you've been enjoying it.

 

hugh.ramsey
hugh.ramsey

 @ekrenek Hay Merchant is good, as you would expect.  Have not made it to rib night.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @FattyFatBastard Fatty, I love a good steak. But going to a nice steakhouse is sort of a formal affair. Steak night is casual and easy. You don't have to think about it, and for what you pay, the quality is generally amazing. So, I beg to differ, because I've had *really* great Houston steak night. I used to love The Tavern on West Gray on Wednesdays. You had to see it to believe it. There were people everywhere, pouring out the hallways practically, because the steak was so good. CB's was really good the two or three times I had it while Chef Bob was there. I'm going to check out Washington Drinkery to see if it lives up to the memory. I spoke to the owner today, who used to frequent CB for their steak night, and snapped up Chef Bob as soon as he found out he was available, so I have a feeling it will be pretty awesome.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @FRL713 I've heard of it but never been. Must be good. Have you tried it?

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @cazzocomprato I've heard of the burger night at Leon's Lounge but not steak night. And according to an old post by Robb Walsh, the Under the Volcano steak night is pretty darn good. Never heard of Bubba's but thanks for reading and for the tip!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @Salvie I'm a fan of MKT Bar's Steak Night, too! Tue/Thu $12 for 6oz steak, onion rings, baked potato, and Mediterranean salad -- for those interested! Tue is Tango night, too. 

altruism
altruism

 @Mai Pham  I also used to love the steak night at the tavern. I've ehard that the tavern steak night cook(s) is currently cooking somehwere else. Any one hear of where this might be?

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

 @Mai Pham As I said, I've had CB's before, but I'm willing to try it out again.  And I will have very low expectations, so we shall see.

FRL713
FRL713

 @Mai Pham Yes, it is solid and a real value.  The place fills up with young Westsiders there just for the steak.  $12 incl. baked potato and salad.  I don't think there is a drink min. although that's never an issue for me ;)

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @altruism They aged their steaks at The Tavern -- part of the reason they were so good. have no idea where the cooks went, sadly. 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @FattyFatBastard Try Chef Bob's version at Washington Drinkery on Wed or Midtown Drinkery on Thu and let me know what you think. As you can see from this post, consistency at CB at this point is questionable.

 

 

susanterrywilhelm
susanterrywilhelm

 @Mai Pham  @FRL713 YES!  The Hideaway is the BEST steak night as far as I am concerned.  Hand cut rib eye steak (16 oz), baked potato and salad for $12 -- Tuesdays and Saturdays.  On Tuesday, they feature Rick Lee and the Night Owls.  No drink minimum.  Great patio if the weather is nice.  I highly recommend it.

 

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