by Max Brantley
This correspondence badly needs a good photo of a six-pound Doe's sirloin, mounded with fries and swimming in juice, but I'm not in possession of one here at the motel by the Shannon Airport. Pix and comments welcome on this critique from a faithful Eat Arkansas reader (my own comment is that Doe's is a state of mind and when they hit the steak right -- crusty outside, blood red clear through -- and the fries are fresh and crispy, it's a wonderful place, and the service is generally as good as it gets. But the kitchen can be inconsistent when slammed, and sometimes when not, though rarely at lunch):
Let’s talk steak… and let’s start with Doe’s.
I worked at Doe’s in the late 80’s and early 90’s and got to enjoy the crazy days of Carville and Stephanopolis, Rolling Stone interviewing Clinton, Hunter S. Thompson, and more lobbyists than you could shake a double scotch at. Ole Bonny Mac (R.I.P.) could crank out perfectly cooked steaks by the ton. It was fun while it lasted, and I got a zillion meals of choice sirloin and other massive carnivorous treats. But that was then, and I’ve hardly been back.
There’s some damn good meat to be had there for sure, but I’ve always preferred a flame-kissed filet with a good béarnaise sauce or some good buttery mushrooms. Basically, less is more- 8 or 10 ounces of tenderloin is just more appealing to me than a two-friggin-pound T-bone. And with a steak, a good baked potato beats french fries, hands down. So what do you think?
Aside: lunch at Doe’s rocks, and the tamales are outstanding. I’m glad to see ole George spending some bucks on advertising, but I have to laugh at the ads with tamales in them. There’s chili on top, but they’re still in the shucks. Back in the day, we’d laugh our butts off at the occasional Yankee who’d do that and then try to eat the paper!
P.S. from Max -- I prefer good fries with a steak, emphasis on good, though I'm fond of bakers, too. I also love steak on the bone likeyou get at Doe's. And how could you mention Doe's without mentioning the nonpareil salad -- iceberg soaked in lemon juice and oil. Some people hate it. I'm not some people. Finally, there's the Texas toast to soak up the drippings. The more I think about it, the hungrier I get. I like to take a crowd and do the full Doe's -- starting with both shrimp and tamales.