My wife and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary this last weekend. My sister-in-law graciously offered to take the kids overnight so that we could stay at the Anniversary Inn together, which was our first night without the kids in over three years. For dinner, we wanted to go to someplace walking distance from the hotel so we headed over to Le Nonne (which I would highly recommend), but they were booked. Iron Gate Grill was just a block further, so we figured that might be the next best thing.
The first thing I noticed about this place was it's awkward layout and decor. You walk through the door to find the kitchen immediately to your right, a flight of stairs to the center, and an empty reservations desk to your left. A few steps further, and you are smacked with overwhelming leopard print carpet up the stairs. Leopard print. I distinctly remember feeling like I was crawling into some seedy Las Vegas joint, not exactly a great first impression. Going up the stairs you pass a beat up leopard statue that looks like it was stolen from a merry-go-round, lit by bright red all plastic chandeliers.
While being seated, we were asked "do you want the sports side or the dinning side?" More awkwardness. Why do they need to treat the different sides like different restaurants? They could have said "would you prefer to sit near televisions?" We choose the dining side, and were led to a booth next to a table with screaming children and overly bright lights. Now I felt like I had been transported from Las Vegas to being interrogated with lights and loud sounds at Guantanamo. Our waitress came quickly, and soon we had their delicious monkey bread with vinegar and olive oil.
They brought out our water in a chilled wine bottle, carefully pouring it into wine glasses for us. As I brought the glass to my mouth, my senses were filled with the rich aromas of Italy. Just like when I occasionally cook with red wine at home. The water reeked of red wine, like they must have quickly rinsed the bottle out before filling it with water. The effect was so strong I couldn't drink it, so I asked for a different bottle. The second was a little better, but was still pretty bad. *Note to owners of Iron Gate Grill: it might be a good idea to really clean these bottles before refilling them! I would rinse 3X with water, then bake the bottles at 500 degrees to cook out any aromas. Stock pile a set of clean bottles, and then stick to them.*
We were given a piece of scrap-booking paper with laser printing and grease stains and were told it was their menu. Not folder or laminate, just paper. My wife and I decided to share an appetizer, main course, and dessert. For the appetizer we ordered the crab stuffed mushrooms (~$8). These little guys were really good. The only thing I would change is the way they were presented with the cocktail sauce in a plastic side cup. A little glass dish or no dish at all would be classier.
For the main course we ordered the Black & Blue Rib Eye ($18), which was blackened in clarified butter then topped with blue cheese. This was just okay. The steak was advertised as 10-12 oz, but I doubt it was that big. It just looked big because it was cut pretty thin. The steak came out in the cast iron skillet it was cooked in literally swimming in oil. Imagine an oval skillet, the steak taking up 3/4 of the area in at least 1/4 inch of oil. When I cook steaks at home, I am pretty picky about the rib eye I choose, and the way I prepare it. In all honesty, the cut of this steak was well below what I buy at Smiths and the preparation was well below what I can do at home. BUT, it was still a rib eye and it was cooked precisely to medium-well as I requested. I bet that this steak came from Sysco frozen individually in an air-tight package, just like the steaks at the places I used to wash dishes at.
Dessert was creme brulee. The pastry chef who prepares the desserts fresh in the morning at this place is good. I have always liked their desserts. But, the knuckle heads in the kitchen toasted the top of the creme brulee incorrectly before serving it to us. It was still good (how could it be bad?) but it could have been better had the top been caramelized. Photo: How Creme Brulee Should Look.
All in all, I would give the Iron Gate Grill at their new Logan location a 5/10. I don't think I would recommend it to a friend. Rather, for food in that price range I would recommend Le Nonne, The Coppermill, The Blue Bird, or The Indian Oven - all of which are a stone throw away from Iron Gate Grill. I liked them well enough when they were located in Providence, I had excellent steak and properly caramelized creme brulee there before... but something changed in the move and it was not good.
See The Iron Gate Grill's website and menu here: www.irongategrill.com