Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dining Diva Review: Raindancer--Consistently Serving the World's Best Steak since 1975!

I am in West Palm Beach this week visiting my family for the Thanksgiving holidays. I am also at the home of the finest steaks in the known universe that are being served nightly at the Raindancer Restaurant on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. I have long considered the Raindancer to be the best steak restaurant on the planet and as a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore, I do not take this distinction lightly. I have eaten steak at the Raindancer at every opportunity I've had since 1975 and although the price has risen, the quality of the meat is still excellent and the service is still at the same high standard it has always kept. This is the only place I have ever dined that can consistently make a correctly cooked Pittsburgh steak--burnt outside, raw and cold center. I have never sent back ANYTHING I have ever been served by their exemplary waitstaff. Upon entering the restaurant, the atmosphere is friendly but reeks of the old gentility of a New York private club with the dark wood paneling and comfortable seating. If you must wait for a table, you are ushered to the bar and plied with excellent (and generously poured) libations and complimentary snacks. When your table is ready, the hostess comes to seat you and your cocktails are put on your dinner check--no having to pay a bar bill before going to eat--the epitome of classy behavior in a restaurant. The restaurant is dimly lit, but elegantly done and the candles are lit at your table by your lead waiter. The assistant waiter will bring your water while your lead waiter brings your next cocktail or iced tea. The menus are proffered and the nightly specials are recited (with the price) and recommendations given. The waitstaff will discuss any or all of the selections on the wine list and the menu is two pages. There are steaks in every cut, prime rib, (which I have never gotten there early enough to sample) Lamb chops, 2-3 fresh fish selections, a chicken selection and lobster tails. All steaks are cooked to order and can be ordered with their amazing wild mushroom medley which is 4 types of wild mushroom in a buttery wine sauce that is beyond compare. Your dinner order is held until you make the obligatory trip to the salad bar where hot bread and three blocks of delectable cheese await. After slicing large chunks of either Swiss, cheddar or jalapeno jack and hot bread, there is a large bowl of fresh mixed greens and spinach leaves along with just about anything one might desire to add to a salad along with 5 dressings made from scratch on premises. The end of the bar is stocked with freshly prepared bacon bits, walnuts, anchovies, sunflower seeds, green onions, homemade croutons and raisins to top off your salad. Water and soft drink service is prompt and so unobtrusive that one would believe the glass was refilled by magic. Your entree comes with unlimited trips to the salad bar and choice of baked potato, sweet potato, steak fries or rice pilaf. The steaks are butter tender and cooked EXACTLY TO ORDER and they do it perfectly. The steak fries are crisp and brown outside and fluffy and bursting with potato flavor inside. The baked potato is served with real butter and sour cream, the sweet potato is served with cinnamon butter and is delicious as is the rice pilaf. Dessert is limited to 3 or 4 choices, Key Lime pie, New York cheesecake with choice of topping, two layer chocolate-chocolate chip cake, and a sugar-free cappuccino cheesecake. Service was precise and perfect as always and the steaks were as perfect as I have come to expect in the last 33 years of dining at this wonderful steak institution. I have spent at least ten thousand dollars at this restaurant over the years and it has been worth every single penny every time. It's the best steak restaurant on the planet. Period.

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