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Smoky's Club

Smoky's neonIn a word: Part highbrow supper club, part lowbrow Wisco bar.

The specs: #0599  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at 77 Square, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Eat Drink Madison, Madison Fish Fry; official web site (warning: sizzles), Facebook fan group, Smoky's Club on Urbanspoon

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JM ate the filet mignon with salad and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the queen cut prime rib with salad, soup, and an old fashioned.
The bill was $67, or $33.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Smoky's Club an A-; Nichole gave Smoky's Club a B (see our grading rubric).

Steak.  The special occasion meal of kings. Do we eat more of it than most because there are so many steakerias on the list? Eh, probably. But if weekend prime ribs are the only thing you or the carnivore male in your life eats with a flourish, well, maybe then you got us beat.

Of the steakhouses we've been to, Smoky's is near the top. We'd been there for anniversary #3 and remembered it fondly. The food lived up to our memory, though the privacy and service seemed a few steps behind that prior visit. This time the service was still fast and unobtrusive. There were a couple of mistakes but the fact that these were fixed quickly was all the more impressive than perfection.

We started with an old fashioned, a lemonade, a traditional relish tray and rolls, soup, and salad. The OF was the fruitless kind. The soup was a hearty, almost chili-flavored beef and cabbage soup with tender, large chunks of meat. The salads were amply dressed - overmuch for JM, who picked Italian - and Nichole's French plus roquefort was good. The vegetables underneath seemed merely notional, implying vegetables without providing many.

Prime ribWe're not expert judges of steak or much of anything else, but as far as we could tell Smoky's buys good meat and keeps the straightforward preparation out of the way.

Nichole got the queen cut prime rib and liberal side of guilt. It was easily 15 ounces (making for some pretty extravagant brown bag lunches), with one long vein of fat. It came with salty jus and sour cream with horseradish.

JM went for the filet mignon, which was stellar. A peppery, salty, slightly seared exterior gave way to juciness inside. As with all steak, the very first bites were the best.

The trimmings were velvety, moist hashbrowns consisting of cylinders of potato slightly packed and cooked to a dry golden brown outside. A dish of small, buttery sauteed mushrooms were also a good accompaniment, though they could have been a little hotter.

As it's a local place (the decor is inordinately obsessed with the history of Madison), we're glad to see it hold its own against Fleming's and their ilk. Of course, Tornado still beckons to supplant Delmonico's for our #1 spot.


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This place is good but to some extent is resting on its laurels. Either that, or there are just some fierce competitors now that didn't exist a few years ago. Either way, there are some just as good - if not better - steak places in town. Warning to non-steak eaters - the non-beef entrees are pretty meh.

This used to have the BEST hash browns in the world. Don't know if that is still the case--I haven't had the pleasure of eating there since 1980. Any thoughts??

PN, I'd say the hashbrowns were truly great both times we had them.

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