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Steak God Bob

Somewhere in the dark corridors, behind the wood paneling, beyond the rows of mirrors framed in wood or brass, Bob's Steak and Chop House must have hidden a couple of barrels of dining room testosterone. You can see the effects of hormonal excess everywhere. Bob's reeks of culinary rutting gone mad, the kind that would make a steer quiver in tragic envy. It's dark. It has a cigar menu. It has brass chandeliers and ceiling propellers.

It has steak.

That's the showstopper, Bob's steak. Not just any steak, USDA prime steak, steak as thick as the bull in a campaign speech. Ask anyone anywhere in Dallas (who doesn't believe their great-grandparent has come back as a steer) who has the best steak, and they'll reflexively spit out "Bob's" before you can finish the question. It's gotten to the point where if some poor sap stutters "Del Frisco's" or "Kirby's," you feel compelled to loan them your Thorazine. Even the women at the bar respond to the Bob's aura--fluffing their hair and exposing their necks--the scent of musky sweat is so strong. And the men? Well...

Bob's has hockey on the tubes and big portions on the plates. Even the glazed carrot--standard equipment along with a potato with every steak--is large enough to ignite Freudian envy. You almost wonder if Bob's has a trace of feminine élan anywhere, some lone implement or decorative element that might remind you of Mom or maybe Yasmine Bleeth. I found none.

Except one. Near the entrance is a huge bowl of jelly beans the size of locomotive ball bearings. It's not that the beans themselves are particularly feminine; it's that the bowl was equipped with a large serving spoon instead of a work glove for well-mannered self service. Oh, and in the far dining region, there are roses tattooed onto the glass transoms and vertical panels.

But other than that, Bob's is thoroughly masculine, a gush of androgens. Consider the delicious irony of this he-man meal: thick hunks of flesh carved from the carcass of a steer for consumption by a patron, presumably with full testicular faculties, to fortify his masculinity. Pass the A1.

Which I don't think I saw at Bob's, thank God. And maybe Bob, too. Because the last thing you'd want to do is mask these steaks with drippings from an A1 bottle, a crime far more heinous than wearing white shoes off the golf course.

Consider the prime T-bone, an acutely triangular piece of meat with a bone grown symmetrically into its USDA prime flesh. Cast on the red side of the requested medium hue (a rarity), the meat was ample on both sides of the bone's stem without any fat or unruly gristle framing. The flavor was rich, and the fiber dribbled with juice. Not as deft were the skillet potatoes topped with sautéed onions and peppercorn gravy. The potato disks seemed out of place next to that beautiful steak--clumsy, lacking any engaging flavor, and they were dressed in muddy brown, too.

Bob's prime rib eye was even better--prolifically rich, abundantly juicy and void of any meaty pitfalls (gristle, toughness) that can work the jaw until it aches. And like some rib eyes, this one wasn't overly fatty. It was buttery. It knocked our socks off. It renewed our faith in God, or steers anyway. This is the best rib eye we've had, bar none.

Not surprisingly, Bob's seems to apply its own special brand of masculine steak nomenclature to everything, even the appetizers and salads. Case in point: the tomato, onion and mozzarella salad. You might expect an elegant rendition fashioned from tomato and cheese slices and perhaps some red onion rings to provide flavor and color interest. Not at Bob's. Bob's orchestrates this combo as a chopped salad, with tomato chunks heaped like a volcanic isle in a huge bowl. We were expecting little serving dishes to be placed around the table at each setting, thinking this must be the serving bowl. The deep vinaigrette puddle at the bottom of the bowl made it seem more like soup, or maybe a stew with a hump. Thankfully, the vinaigrette was subdued, so it didn't tear into the throat with undue pugnaciousness. And the big chunks of bright red tomato were rich and juicy, though the mozzarella was a little overwhelmed.

The blue cheese salad was another boisterous heap of masculinity, perhaps an overbearing one. Yet it was refreshing and deft nonetheless. With bits of hard-boiled egg and fragments of roasted pecan, the salad was crisp, refreshingly cold and pummeled into submission with more blue cheese than you could stuff into a gym sock.

In case you hadn't guessed, subtlety is not Bob's game, even when it comes to sea life. The shrimp cocktail arrived as a handful of shrimp on a small platter carpeted with lettuce leaves. These were heavy-duty shrimp, the kind that could take up half the room you'd already reserved for steak. Edged with a cocktail sauce spiked with a horseradish shot that approached searing levels, these hefty shrimp were washed out, bland and a little mealy, as if they'd been boiled until their pinkness was eradicated.

Bob's is a bustling place, one where it's difficult to get a seat, even on a Monday night. Owner Bob Sambol opened his prime beef temple in 1993 in the original Dallas Del Frisco's location with Del Frisco's founder Dale Wamstad, tagging it Bob and Del's before Del got lopped off and it was just Bob's. It's been a cash cow ever since. Sambol has plans to open an extension up north in the Legacy Town Center sometime in the near future.

The carnivorous lust that rolls through the place can't be dampened, even in the dining room. It's hard to hear the person across the table swoon over his steak, such is the masculine meat static. Sambol wanders around his crowded dining room seeing to it that the gears are well-oiled. One thing that is not well-oiled at Bob's is the service. Sure, it works, and it's competently efficient, but it squeaks with ungraciousness. A reservation snafu (our fault) brought little sympathy or desire to accommodate from the staff. We were viewed as a dining irritant, so they dished us a serving of begrudging appeasement as big as Bob's cocktail shrimp.

This tone is captured and maintained at the table where service is efficient and skilled, but also gruff, abrupt and indifferent. Bob's is not a place for soothing TLC, unless perhaps you're one of the regulars, who, judging by some of the dining room interactions, were numerous.

Bob's is steak, all steak and little but steak. Consequently it does little else well, although the clam chowder, stylistically Manhattan, is exceptionally clean with a potent rush of pepper and sizable bits of clam.

Surprisingly, the pork chops failed. Apparently pigs don't merit the lofty position that steers do. The flesh was universally gray without a trace of pink, and the flavors and textures were coarse and uneven. Some parts were parched and bland, while others were marginally moist and bathed in a sticky sweetness.

Roasted duck suffered similar blemishes. Though generous (no surprise), the duck flesh was immersed in a sticky, tarry green peppercorn/duck fat reduction that was more distraction than enhancement. The meat was livery and bland. But Bob's does serve huge baked potatoes the size of T-Rex eggs, and they're moist and hearty, even without the sour cream and scallions and such.

Predictably, desserts plunge a few notches from the steaks and spuds. The Key lime pie was good with a ferocious citrus tang, but it was texturally indelicate. Yet if there was an item on the menu that seemed in need of a few male hormones, it was the crème brûlée. This Bob portion of dining closure was cold throughout and was equipped with a whisper-thin sugar cap, though the custard was firm and flavorful.

But you don't flock to Bob's to indulge in sweets with a funny French name anyway. You come to Bob's for steak brawn, and on that front, there's nothing better in the city, or maybe anywhere. The jelly beans aren't bad either.

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