Monday, October 5, 2009

Quaker Steak & Lube

Quaker Steak & Lube
590 Chamber Drive

Adam Richman, the congenial host of Man vs. Food, suckered us in again. For those unfamiliar with his Travel Channel show, Richman travels the country in search of iconic eateries and attempts food challenges along the way. He’s done the 72 oz. steak challenge in Amarillo, The 11-pound, 30” Carnivore pizza in Atlanta, and in Pittsburgh it was the Quaker Steak & Lube hot wings challenge. Although neither of us was interested in the restaurant’s hot wings challenge, we thought the décor looked fun.

Fast forward several months to a rainy weekend. Steve and I were out in Milford and happened to see a Quaker Steak & Lube in passing. We hadn’t realized that the restaurant featured on Man vs. Food was a chain because usually the food challenges are in independently owned restaurants, but we were intrigued enough to stop in and give it a spin.

Fill up on "Best wings USA" - unless of course you are vegetarian

The front door handle

The chain originated in Sharon, PA in 1974 when two friends came up with the idea of preserving the culture of old gas stations by setting up a restaurant inside an abandoned one. The idea took off and the chain now boasts 38 locations throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania.

There's a lot to look at

Wheelie good decor

The auto racing theme is well executed here, but there isn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the vast menu. Instead, meat-free choices are relegated to a few side dishes (baked potato, steamed broccoli, mac & cheese), a side salad called “The Garage” and a couple of deep-fried appetizers.

The lobby of Quaker Steak & Lube

Lots of visual interest in the dining room

This racing stuff is lost on me, but it's nice to look at

In the spirit of investigation, I opted for the side salad and the Four-Wheeler appy consisting of mozzarella sticks, onion rings, soft pretzels and fried pickles. Even a die-hard grease monkey would have to admit that there’s a lot of fried food on the plate. The thick and crunchy onion rings were qualifiers but the other three limped along the shoulder on the rim and are best avoided, particularly the abysmal pretzels. Unless, that is, you happen to enjoy chewing rubber rather than peeling it.

The Quaker Steak bar

The Garage side salad

A clever use for radio antenna

Steve didn't have any better luck with his choice of Mustang Chicken sandwich, which he said didn't have much flavor, despite the BBQ sauce, smoked bacon and garlic-buttered buns. He was also disappointed in the fries, which were cold on the first lap and had to be sent back.

The Mustang chicken sandwich

On the day we visited, Quaker Steak & Lube was bustling with families and fans catching a Bengals game. Everyone seemed quite content with their choices and were enjoying themselves, and I think it's a fine place to go for drinks or to watch a game, but due to the lack of a bona fide meat-free option, I’m not going to be waving the checkered flag their way.

Forget chocolates or mints after dinner - here you get Twizzlers and hand towels

Quaker Steak & Lube on Urbanspoon


Katy said...

They opened one close to us and we pondered it. I looked at the menu online and wasn't impressed. Sounds like the time we went to Toot's for Shawn's sister's bday except Toot's fried stuff was pretty good. You always take the bullet for us and we appreciate it :)

Grumpy Geek said...

Unfortunately I have to agree with your assessment. I am within reach of the Milford one but after having tried a location in Columbus, never bothered to stop in.

I don't understand what is wrong with these places that they can't even offer a veggie burger which can be kept frozen for decent periods of time. Of course, when they do it's usually a crappy original Gardenburger. I much prefer ones that are black bean or other more interesting ingredients.

Speaking of decent veggie burgers, try J. Alexander's or Arthur's, both in Hyde Park. It's been a while since I have been to either but I enjoyed them (especially J. Alexander's, they make it in-house and it has a nice smoky flavor.)

Jessica said...

It's definitely a place for carnivores who like good wings! Steve really should have tried the wings, they're pretty fantastic (way better than BW3's).

I wonder, have you heard of a place called Cold Turkey, Inc downtown? I haven't been yet, but I'm wanting to try it. It's a sandwich and soup place, that obviously serves turkey, but according to their menu has some vegetarian friendly soups, salads, and sandwiches!

Anonymous said...

Actually you can get a great veggie burger at Quaker Steak and Lube. Just ask. It is not on the menu but available.

Veggie Option said...

That's interesting, because I told our server that I was vegetarian and he didn't offer me a choice of a veggie burger.

Feoshia said...

Thanks for telling me what I guessed it would be like from the name alone. Not really a veggie friendly place.

Cincinnati NAMjA said...

I have been wanting to check this place out...thanks for the info!

Rachel said...

It's not my kind of restaurant, but the Milford location does do a lot in the way of fundraisers for the community, which is nice.