Rib Eye Steakhouse1400 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.
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.
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.
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.
Entrees come with the choice of salad or, intriguingly, vegetable beef soup. We got both, just to show you.
Not the Soup du Jour, but specifically Vegetable Beef Soup is offered.
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.
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.
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.
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.