Meal-Atta-Glance: Ribeye at Rib Eye Steakhouse

Rib Eye Steakhouse

1400 Highway 71
Fort Smith, AR 72901-8470

We’re starting this post in a bad position, a defensive one. But here goes.

Dear Restaurants of the World & Greater Fort Smith Area: If you insist on having dim, romantic lighting, fine. But be aware you’re going to get dim, unromantic pictures. We’re sorry about this, really, but there’s not much we can do. Since it’s hard enough to whip out the camera at the dinner table without raising suspicions, we can’t exactly set up a photo studio with reflective panels and stand lighting. So, no matter how delicious and attractive your food may be, we can’t guarantee our Fort Smith Eats photos of it won’t turn out looking like they were art directed by someone more accustomed to making adult movies in their basement, circa 1971. We do our best, but there’s only so much we can do to eliminate that dark, shag-carpeted vibe.

That brings us to today’s restaurant, Rib Eye Steakhouse, which may indeed have been last decorated in 1971. We like Rib Eye, and we can tell you how to get there fine. What we may not be able to do is tell you how to get back to your table if you venture forth to the restroom.

The place is a labyrinth. You’ve got your open-style dining rooms in the front, but if you find yourself following the server back past the aisles of booths, up the ramp, around the corner and through the windy corridors in which they have hidden surprised diners into every nook and cranny, you’d best build some time into your evening itinerary for finding your way back out of the place. Take breadcrumbs. (They looked older to be sure, but we think in one dark corner we may have even stumbled on Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa having dinner).

This, for instance is one of the tables we found along the way, in a private walled-off booth/stall.

Rib Eye Steakhouse interior Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Thank the good Lord for the placemats and tableware, or this might look like a police interrogation room from a movie. Wait, is that Batman in the shadows? He's sneaky.

We truly don’t mean to dis on Rib Eye. It’s been a beloved Fort Smith institution for many years, and there are a number of excellent reasons for its longevity.

The fine paper products used in their placemats and napkins probably aren’t among them. Think about it. Placemats. How many fine dining establishments do you encounter with placemats anymore? And paper placemats aren’t even really placemats. They’re the things the kids draw on at the Fine Family Dining Restaurants of Our Childhood. But at Rib Eye, you get the idea the placemats are there to indicate this is a quality establishment.

Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats table setting

Paper placemats and silverware in paper wrapping. Just you wait. In a few years, this will be retro-chic and all the chichi New York boutique eateries will be sporting these. Rib Eye's just ahead of the curve.

It amuses us too, in a fond, gee-whiz-bless-their-hearts sort of way, to see the dented mis-matched salt-and-pepper sets illuminated by the beauty of the mood-enhancing candlelight. Honestly, how much salt shaking does a person have to do to damage a salt shaker like this? There’s a story here.

Candlelight salt & pepper Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. Smith Arkansas restaurant Fort Smith Eats

There have been days we felt like this salt-shaker looks. Brutishly big, beaten over the head with a mallet, and unable to find a proper mate anywhere in sight.

We mentioned earlier that there were a number of excellent reasons for Rib Eye Steakhouse’s success. Towards the top of that list is probably the fried pickles. Yes, Fried Pickles. We hadn’t been to Rib Eye in years and years, but after we started the Fort Smith Eats conversation on Twitter, we kept having people tell us, unsolicited, that we had to go to Rib Eye and try the fried pickles. You know what? They were right. These babies were awesome.

Fried pickles Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. Smith Arkansas Fort Smith Eats

Yeah, they're greasy. They're also expletive-inducing good. Worth a trip, just for these.

Entrees come with the choice of salad or, intriguingly, vegetable beef soup. We got both, just to show you.

Side salad Rib Eye Steakhouse

Nothing to see here, folks. Go about your business. It's just a side salad.

Not the Soup du Jour, but specifically Vegetable Beef Soup is offered.

Vegetable Beef Soup, Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

We never really thought about having vegetable beef soup before a steak, but it works. It must, since Rib Eye's been doing it for so many years.

We had a hunch, since the soup is the only one offered as a standard pre-meal alternative, that it was probably good. We were right. It’s not Fancy Soup. It’s not a soup you’d go to Rib Eye just to get. It’s good in that just good old basic vegetable beef soup kind of way.

Veggie beef soup Ribeye Steakhouse Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

This small cup of soup was surprisingly hearty. If you've only got a modest appetite, get the salad and save room for the steak. If you're hungry as a bear and in need of a cup of comfort, get the soup.

And at last, the main attraction at Rib Eye Steakhouse made its appearance on the Fort Smith Eats table. That would be the ribeye steak. Or, as we called it as our steak knife sliced through it with remarkable ease, butter. We have eaten many steaks, and many of them succulent and tempting slabs of beef from fine Fort Smith restaurants. We are not sure we have ever cut into a steak that was as tender as this particular ribeye.

Folks, forget everything we’ve said. We at Fort Smith Eats officially do not care a whit if they don’t follow L.A. style, if they make you eat in a cave, if they are salt-shaker-abusing felons. They can come plaster our house in paper placemats if they want. Because Rib Eye Steakhouse knows how to cook ribeye steaks. Damn fine ones, too.

Grilled ribeye steak dinner at Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Now there's a traditional steak dinner for the ages. Bonus points to us for scooting the candle closer to get some light in the picture. Sorry the orange twist looks nuclear.

We savored every bite. We might have even licked the steak knife. Heck, we might have licked the plate. Juicy steak good food. Mmm.

We’re not done yet. Though we fear you won’t believe us, that the square glob below was actually a particularly fine piece of Amaretto Bread Pudding.

Amaretto Bread Pudding at Rib Eye Steakhouse Ft. Smith Arkansas Fort Smith Eats

We wouldn't want to put this Amaretto Bread Pudding on a billboard, but we'd order it again in a heartbeat.

Don’t take our word for the whole experience though. If you haven’t tried Rib Eye in years, or ever give it a try. If you have, then we’re preaching to the choir. So, whoever you are, give them some love and tell them we sent you. Be sure to take your appetite, your curiosity and possibly a light source and GPS.

6 responses to “Meal-Atta-Glance: Ribeye at Rib Eye Steakhouse

  1. Brian Spessard

    I’ve had several friends talk about how good the Rib Eye is. May just have to go try it now.

  2. Oh, where do I begin? I never went to the old Ribeye so it may have been good, I dont know. I went last week and it was inexusably awful. I had what the menu described as steak and panko breaded shrimp, which was actually over cooked steak and frozen, non-butterflied shrimp (for $15). My sister had steak and catfish; the first bite of catfish she pulls out a bone, then notices the odd flavor. The catfish was grey in color and smelled very bad. Only explaination could have been it was old, very very old. ($15). Even our baked potatoes were over cooked! Her steak however was cooked properly. We opted to eat in the “intimate” dinning area which reminded me of my grandmother’s closet. A tiny wood paneled room with “engravings” of wildlife scenes and pictures of 50s era icons. I will NEVER, ever eat there again.‎

  3. I LOVED your review. Hilarious! And I was glad to find it. I’ve never been there and have been thinking about trying it. (a little leery, after reading Leshias post, but we will try it) Now I would like a post about the Red Barn Steakhouse. I went there many years ago. Wasn’t really ‘into’ the food, it was a work crowd and we were too busy visiting. I bought some certificates last year. We haven’t been yet because we are early diners and they don’t open until 4:30 or 5:00. Well, not so much early diners but we like to be home by that time and settling in. (we’re not 90, we just like life that way, lol) So, anyone have any words for us? About the Red Barn, not the lifestyle. ; )

  4. my grandmother loves their fried catfish! — the feeding stalls are confusing but i actually really appreciate the privacy!

  5. Poor Leshia. What an experience. That doesn’t sound much like ours at all. It may be that our latest visit happened when the kitchen was having a freakishly good day. Given the positive comments we’ve heard from others on Facebook, Twitter and here, our bet is that you happened in on a bad day. Still. One hallmark of restaurant quality is its consistency in putting out a good product and good experience and they missed the mark with you. Tsk tsk.

    Tammy the Preternaturally Old: Ribeye and Red Barn have a lot in common, actually. If we were to compare just the last meals we had at each one (within the last six months), we’d say Ribeye has a slight edge on the cooking, and Red Barn has a slight edge on the atmosphere. Being, you know, in an old barn with lots of horse things around. We need to go back to Red Barn though. Want to try the Boston Mountain quail there, because we’ve heard it’s terrific.

    ashleyD: Fried catfish you say? Hmmm. Intrigued. Will add that to the neverending list of things to try!

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