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July 24, 2013

Taste Bud: Steak and beer for $10

Steak: The final frontier. My continuing mission? To seek out great deals. This is about one such deal. I’ll start from the beginning.

As much as I love red meat, particularly in the form of steak, I don’t eat it often for a couple of reasons. One is for my health: I’m not getting any younger. The second is cost: You can get a decent steak at a lot of places around town, but there’s a good chance it’s going to set you back $20 or more.

If I can get a similar rib-eye or New York strip at Kroger for $9, well, I’m likely going to stay home and make it myself. Frankly, I can make a pretty mean hunk of cow meat.

But I stumbled upon a deal recently that I nearly couldn’t believe, and therefore had to try for myself. That deal is at Cumberland Brews (1576 Bardstown Road) every Thursday from open until close: $10 for a New York strip steak, hand-cut fries and a pint of beer.

Yep, 10 bucks.

“Sure,” I said to myself. “It will be a steak the size of a slider buried in a pound of steak fries to make up the difference.”

I mean, otherwise, the deal just sounded too damn good to be true. But it wasn’t. In fact, it was actually a pretty great deal.

I ventured to Cumberland’s cozy spot in the Highlands for lunch on the Fourth of July (Note: They normally open at 4 p.m. on Thursdays) to find the place mostly empty. I sat at the bar, ordered a pint of L&N #152 (a dark, nicely-hopped but not too bitter lager), and told the bartender I’d like the steak special, as advertised on the chalk board.

Deep in the recesses of my soul, I expected her to roll her eyes and say, “Sir, that was just a joke. Nobody can sell you a pint of craft beer, a steak and hand-cut fries for $10.”

Instead, she said, “Sure. How would you like that cooked?”

Ah, so she decided to call the bluff. Fine. I’ll play Cumberland’s little game.

“Medium rare, please,” I replied. And then I waited, sipping my pint, for a $10 steak dinner I was sure was nothing but diet-fiction. After all, who are they trying to fool? If Kroger charges $9 for a decent steak, where do they get off fooling the public into thinking they can serve all that AND a pint of beer for just $10?

Lo and behold, a few minutes later, I boldly went where at least this man had never gone before. She placed before me a platter with a much, much bigger steak than I’d anticipated, an onion ring on top, an enormous pile of thick fries, and garnished with the darnedest thing: a miniature red velvet cupcake.

The first thing I noticed was that the chef must like his steaks really bloody, because based on what I normally see in restaurants, this hunk of meat was closer to rare than medium rare. I was undeterred; I’d probably eat a steak raw if I felt I had to. Then I took a couple of bites and noted the steak had been nicely seasoned with peppercorn. As a matter of fact, it was delicious.

After considering the juicy strip-steak’s flavor, I noted to myself that it definitely passed the A-1 steak sauce test, which is a steak that tastes good enough that the sauce would only get in the way. I like the flavor of A-1, but I left the bottle, which came with my meal, sitting undisturbed.

Next, I asked the bartender the weight of the steak, and she confirmed it as an 8-ounce cut of New York strip. Half a pound. Pile of potatoes. Cupcake. Beer. Ten bucks.

The fries, meanwhile, were delicious and plentiful, browned at the edges and fluffy in the center; I actually enjoyed them as much as I did the meat. I love a fresh french fry that allows the earthy flavor of the potato to come through, and these did that with room to spare. You don’t get that at McDonald’s, kids.

I marveled (yes, marveled) to the bartender that it was almost an unbelievable deal.

“Yeah,” she responded casually, “we have good specials here. On Wednesday, it’s the bison burger and a beer for $10.”

Seriously? No way. That sounds way too good to be … ah, never mind.

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