Those of you who are regulars know that I’ve been craving a USDA Prime steak for some time now. My last visit to a steakhouse came close, but didn’t quite fit the bill. Despite having available options just down the road to Metro Nashville, I didn’t have the time to make those reservations. So when my next opportune time came, I instead decided to make a 228 mile trek to the home of my Alma mater: Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington, Kentucky isn’t quite the place you’d think to go for a great steak… let alone USDA Prime graded beef, but one particular restaurant there serves it. That restaurant is Malone’s.
Malone’s is the name of a high-end steakhouse that is locally owned by the Bluegrass Hospitality Group; a group that owns several successful restaurants & bars throughout the city. Malone’s has been so successful; it has branched out to 2 other locations in the city. Considered one of the few fine-dining spots in the city, it is the only one that I know of that offers USDA Prime graded beef that’s shipped directly from butchers in Chicago. With the exception of one restaurant, no other restaurant in Lexington has produced a steak equivalent to Malone’s.
What makes USDA Prime so special? It’s the highest grade beef in the United States can obtain from United States Department of Agriculture. The Prime grade is an indicator that the meat is of highest quality and highest in intramuscular fat (marbling). Only about 2.9% of all grade beef carcasses receive the Prime grade. For more information, click here.
Malone’s takes pride in three things: their framed & autographed menus, their USDA Prime beef, and the fact that they are rated a “Top 10 Steakhouse” by Tom Horan year after year. No matter what Malone’s you choose, all three have a dimly lit, classy atmospheres with staff dressed in their black and white “Sunday best” and framed menus as far as the eye can see. Malone’s takes pride in these menus because local and national celebrities, as well as government officials, have individually autographed each one. Such famous patrons include: Tommy Lasorda, Jerry Bruckheimer, William Shatner, Diane Sawyer, and Terry Bradshaw.
There are two great things about Malone’s that come to mind. The first is that despite all this fancy-schmancy atmosphere, you don’t have to dress upscale. Of the dozens of times I’ve dined there in the past, you see patrons dressed from t-shirts and shorts to suits and ties all at the same time. You can go there for a special occasion or just for a casual dinner.
The second thing is that it’s really affordable. Back when I was a college student, my friends and I would drool just thinking about dining there. There was that stigma that Malone’s was too expensive for us and each time we drove by, we would try and conjure up a reason to dine there, but we never did… so that plan never came into fruition. The steaks are only $5-$15 more than what you would pay at mid-range chain steakhouse, but 100 times better. Malone’s once offered American Wagyu steaks (renowned cattle that have extreme marbling like their Japanese cousins) for $50 per steak but this time around, their menu did not have it listed anywhere. I’m still curious to why or when it was removed…
That Sunday evening, Haley, Carleigh (her sister), Ethan (Carleigh’s boyfriend), and I opted to sit outside in the Harry’s bar and patio. Harry’s is essentially its own restaurant with their own menu, but they serve everything off the Malone’s menu since they share the same kitchen. Our waitress had a remarkable resemblance to Jennifer Morrison. At first, her service was bland and we didn’t see her that often. Maybe it was the fact that she didn’t want to work the Sunday of Labor Day weekend or the number of patrons she had to serve (maybe even a combination of both). For some reason after we got our drinks, she perked up and things got a lot better. I left her a good tip for her efforts.
As for the food, it is simply amazing considering the beef you get to experience and the price you pay for it. For just $32, I got a 12 oz. USDA Prime boneless Ribeye, unlimited Lexingtonian salad, 1 side of my choice (I chose sautéed mushrooms), and an iced tea.
The Lexingtonian salad is a simple, yet highly addictive salad. The salad is just fresh greens, diced tomatoes, homemade ranch dressing, and chopped bacon. As a rule of thumb, I always get my dressing on the side to prevent the sogginess from premade salads with dressing. The dressing is a creamy ranch with a very slight tang to it, very similar to Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing. However, the magic of it all is in the bacon. These aren’t Bacos. This is real bacon, but it isn’t the soft kind you see on salad bars. This is the real stuff, cooked to a crisp, and then chopped. It provides such a satisfying crunch to your salad with real bacon flavor, but doesn’t break your teeth like Bacos does. As a bonus, you get as much as you want.
As for the main course, my steak came out beautifully. Malone’s cooks their steaks in an infrared oven, which creates a crust/char on the outside. This is very similar to the technique used by Alton Brown and Bobby Flay, which involves a cast iron skillet heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to sear the outside of the steak. The purpose of this cooking method is to create a crust that seals in all the natural juices found in the steak. I ordered it medium rare (cool red center) but it came out slightly above it. However, it wasn’t quite medium (warm pink center), so I didn’t complain because it was still juicy after slicing into it. Each bite had a slight crunch to it (due to the char) with soft, juicy meat with a lot of flavor. The taste was just heavenly and needed no contamination of any kind of sauce.
The mushrooms were just whole mushrooms sautéed in oil. Nothing fancy, but still delicious. Personally I would have added some chopped onions or garlic to liven it up. At least they didn’t have any obvious shrinkage (which happens when you overcook mushrooms).
To me, eating at Malone’s was a treat. I haven’t dined there for over a year and when I did live in Lexington, I made an effort to eat there at least once a month. Nowhere else can you experience a quality steak for such a price… at least not in Nashville. It will probably be another couple months before I get to dine there again, but with that absence, I know I’ll appreciate it that much more.
|Malone’s @ Palomar
3735 Palomar Centre Drive
Lexington, Ky 40513
Bill Total: $32 ($52 w/ Haley’s Meal)