Well, as many of you know that read my column and the comments that follow, the Phantom Diner was criticized for not being critical in the reviews. I explained in a comment after the review of the Smokin Crab that I try to keep the criticism to a standard of positive constructive criticism; thus giving the restaurant a chance to assess the situation and makes changes as they see fit. A perfect example in my review of the Smokin Crab, the restaurant changed their menu to accommodate a Mississippi Steamer Mix n Match pot for one person because of my review.
Onto this week review, I decided to make a short trip up Route 119 N to Pechin's Firehouse Restaurant located on the south end of Laurel Mall right off Route 119 N. I entered the building through the patio in the front which turned out to be the bar. You have the choice to dine in the bar or in the dining room. The waitress directed me to the back to the dining room area where I found the main entrance on the side of the building. With a firefighter statue, firefighter photos, fire extinguishers, ladders and axes, the dining room has everything to give you the feel you're in an actual firehouse. I was immediately seated in a booth where I quickly noticed that there are flat screen TVs in every booth. Great if you wanted to watch the game or your favorite show with some privacy. The walls dividing the booths are a good 4-1/2 to 5 feet high adding to that privacy.
Looking through the menu, I found the prices to be between fair and on the high end, but once again I found something on the menu that wasn't clearly defined. Under the Fireman's Grill, listing all the different steaks they offer, there is the "Flat Iron" for $15.99. The description is even vaguer in stating only, "This beef has a rich succulent flavor". To the average Joe, the term "Flat Iron" or as your butcher may call it "Top Blade Steak" doesn't exactly spell out the details of this cut or how big this steak would be. So I asked my waitress, who had to check in the back, and turned out to be a 12-ounce shoulder cut.
As for my choice, I decided to play it safe with the 12-ounce New York Strip with house salad, fries, asparagus and another option that caught my eye. You can "add Surf to your Turf" for $5.99. So I tacked on ½ a pound of crab legs as well. While I was waiting for my steak, my waitress brought out bread with oil and vinegar mixture along with regular butter and cheese pimento butter. I would have liked to have just a little bit of Italian herb seasoning in the oil and vinegar mixture, and the cheese pimento butter was great, but it was a very small portion. (Enough to cover 2 slices of bread)
My waitress brought out my house salad, but I wasn't very happy when I specifically asked her if the house salad was made with romaine or iceberg lettuce. She claimed that house salads were made with iceberg lettuce, but it appeared they are made with a mixture of greens. Despite the salad, she did have some good points to her service; she was very polite, prompt and checked back often throughout the night. It was great to see the waiters and waitresses working as a team to provide great service.
The real treat came when my New York strip steak arrived. The steak was cooked perfectly to my liking, and when I tasted my first bite, the great flame broiled taste was very prominent. I was in steak heaven and never even thought about touching the A1 sauce. The fries were great as well but once I got down the bottom of the pile, the grease from the steak soaked up into the fries making them soggy. The asparagus had good flavor but were still on the crunchy side. My crab legs were good aside from having one leg discolored and a little funky looking. I really liked the dish they put the drawn butter in giving me plenty of room to dip the larger pieces of crab meat.
Not being stuffed to my limit, I decided to finish off with a strawberry milkshake. A very traditional great tasting milkshake complete with the cherry on top. Even though I didn't have a top notch time here at Pechin's Firehouse Restaurant, I still want to come back and try one of their burgers. If their burgers have the same great flame broiled taste as my steak did, it will make for one awesome burger.
If you've been to Pechin's Firehouse Restaurant and have an experience you would like to share, please don't hesitate to comment on this story. If you have questions or would like to suggest a restaurant for the Phantom Diner to visit, you can email him at email@example.com