Ever since we moved to Topeka, I have wanted to try North Star Steakhouse located at 1100 N.W. 25th St. Many people we have met since moving here have touted this venerable restaurant. North Star takes reservations only for parties of eight or more, but does take call-aheads. It was a good thing we called ahead as a couple who arrived shortly after we did were told they would have to wait 90 minutes.
NORTH STAR STEAKHOUSE
WHERE: 1100 N.W. 25th St.
PHONE: (785) 354-8880
HOURS: 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday
EDITOR'S NOTE: From Mexican and Italian to Cajun and American, the Mystery Culinary Critic writes about his impressions of Topeka restaurants and cuisine. And while we would tell you his name, we don't even know. He chooses to be anonymous so he will be treated like any other diner. Read his other reviews here.
While we waited on our table, we ordered a beer from the bar. North Star has an ample selection of beer, wines and liquor. I was pleased to see they offered a variety of beers from local microbreweries, including Topeka's Blind Tiger, Free State in Lawrence and Tallgrass in Manhattan. We had just enough time to enjoy the beer before we were seated.
Once seated, our waitress immediately asked us what we wanted to drink and gave us time to study the menu. North Star does not have an extensive menu. It is pretty basic, but the philosophy at North Star is to offer good quality steaks with some alternatives for those who decide they want an alternative. My wife and I came for steak, so that is what we opted for. I chose a KC strip, salad and hash browns smothered in gravy and she decided upon the ribeye, salad and baked potato. Both our meals were around $22, putting North Star is in the $$$-$$$$ range.
While we waited for our salads to arrive, I had an opportunity to study the décor. I would have to use the term "rustic" to describe the place. The walls at North Star are paneled wood and the booths are made of wood with no cushions. Even though North Star is on the pricey side, customers do not frequent the place for the décor. I know this might make a few loyalists angry, but I was somewhat disappointed with the ambiance and give it two forks.
Our salads also let us down. The salads looked like they were made with bags of iceberg lettuce with shredded red cabbage and carrots that you can buy at a grocery store. My blue cheese dressing was runny and didn’t have a lot of taste.
When our meals arrived, the steaks were humongous. My KC strip was hands down the best steak I have had in the past year, bar none. It was thick and juicy and tasted great. My hash browns were fried with a generous helping of onions and came with a side of gravy. My wife’s ribeye was just as wonderful as my KC strip. Her baked potato was average or below average in size. I was also disappointed that we did not get some type of bread with the meal. For $22, one would expect a side order of bread and/or a veggie. For quality, North Star earns three forks, primarily because of the great steaks.
During our meal, our waitress did a good job serving us and making our dining experience enjoyable. There was little delay in getting us our food, and she checked on us regularly, despite the fact that the restautant was at full capacity. The service at North Star earns a solid three and a half forks.
Now the toughest part of this review — the rating for value. For a good steak dinner, $22 is not out of line. We certainly didn’t lack for quantity of food, as the steaks were large. The salads were average at best, and the lack of bread or a veggie left us a little disenchanted. On the other hand, those steaks were great. I am awarding three forks to North Star for value.
Overall, I give the North Star a three-fork rating. Improve the salad, add a dinner roll or bread, and that rating easily jumps to three and one-half forks or even higher.
MYSTERY CULINARY CRITIC:
Reviewed using a “fork” rating system, with one
fork being the lowest and four forks the highest.
NORTH STAR STEAKHOUSE
SERVICE: 31/2 forks AMBIANCE: 2 forks
FOOD QUALITY: 3 forks VALUE: 3 forks
OVERALL: 3 forks