III Forks vs Bob's vs Outback: Three Way Steak Shootout

When you consider that most of the city's obscenely massive steak palaces buy from the same purveyor, a comparison seems rather pointless. Unless...

You see, III Forks serves prime New York strip. This will run you almost $46. Bob's cuts corners, selling choice grade strip at the upscale rate of $35--at least that's true of the original location (in its embattled, waning days). Meanwhile, Outback gets a nod from Zagat's (fwhatever that's worth) for their steak. But it is Outback, a mid-range chain. They keep things down to a more reasonable $19 and change.

So--three very different 16 ounce monsters in one ring, all ordered rare. Instinctively we know prime dominates choice. Does III Forks run away with this one?

Well, yes.

But the battle for second is intriguing. Bob's has always been the king of underperformance, though big spenders never seemed to mind. They season their New York strip with impressive care, using the slab of meat as a stage for salt and pepper to pop--randomly, subtley, but with enough verve to catch your attention. The steak itself, however, forces you to fight through sinews and the dullard resilience of tough fibers.

At least they cook it right, though. Outback's rare slips slightly into medium rare territory. And they trim much of that belt of fat (and flavor) skirting the edge. When it comes to seasoning, Outback appears to prefer a pre-mixed wash, judging by the consistent, languid, sensation of salt and pepper with each bite.

On the other hand, they serve the cut with less sinuous head facing you--no need to battle nobs of gristle at the start. And the quality isn't that far off, compared to Bob's. Add in fries that are--curiously--above the usual Dallas standard (that doesn't mean much) and decent, if bland sides, as well as the whopping $15 price difference...

Unless you prefer a surcharge to watch Bob's female wait staff, Outback is a better option--at least for the New York strip.

Now, about III Forks: Order rare and the server will likely ask you to specify cool or warm. Some steakhouses work to achieve that beautifully dark, caramelized crust. Here it turns out naturally grayish, but silken inside. At first bite, you get a rush of salt. But eventually the seasoning settles into a rhythm--burst of salt, bite of pepper and, finally, the soothing savor of good prime beef.

Not at all bad.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries