Just inside the Indiana line east of Danville, IL is one of the more famous Midwestern steak houses - the Beef House. The restaurant is just off of Interstate 74 at the Covington exit (Exit 4 - see map). I was on my way to Indianapolis recently (I've been going to Indy a lot for business) and I stopped and had dinner at the Beef House.
I've eaten there a couple three times before my recent visit. The Beef House has been around since 1964 when Warren Wright- a beef rancher in Western Indiana - opened a hamburger place as an outlet to use some of the beef he raised. Warren's son, Bob Wright, graduated from Purdue three years later and joined his father in the restaurant. By this time, steaks had been added to the menu and the restaurant had expanded. In 1975, Bob designed and built the ranch-style Beef House at its present day location.
The Beef House is not only famous for their steaks, but for their homemade yeast rolls. I will have to say the rolls are pretty damn good. You can actually buy the rolls and bake them at home. I may have to stop in there sometime and grab some to bring home.
Having just crossed over into the Eastern Time Zone, it was 8:30 local time when I walked into the Beef House. Walking past a huge meat case filled with cut steaks, I was met by a hostess who led me to my seat. The main dining area was about half full with customers and they had closed the divider wall that cuts the main dining area in half. The hostess sat me at a table and gave me the menu.
Of course, the drawing card at the Beef House is steaks, steaks and more steaks. They're famous for their rib eye steaks and offer five different sizes in cuts from 8 ounces up to 20 ounces. They have filet tenderloin cuts, strip steaks that you can either order marinated or plain, and a 20 oz. T-bone steak. They also have pork chops, chicken, seafood and pasta.
I decided to go with their rib eye - the 16 oz size. With that I got a side of rice and a trip to their salad bar, too. And, of course, I got a basket of their signature rolls, as well.
After going through the large salad bar and eating one of their rather large rolls, my waiter brought out my steak and rice. It was a very thick cut - over an inch thick - and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It actually looked larger than a 16 oz. cut. I knew I wasn't going to walk away hungry from this meal.
The steak was good, not outstanding, but good. I've had better steaks at other places, including at my home. But most of Beef House's beef comes from the Wright family cattle operation. And everyone knows the best beef (and pork) is grown in Iowa and not in Indiana. (That's a mild joke, but then again, it's not. I'm sort of provincial when it comes to Iowa beef and pork.)
The Beef House wasn't cheap - with the steak, a couple beers and tip, the bill came to a bit over $45 bucks. And I was offered to take the extra rolls in my basket home with me, but since I was traveling I didn't want to take them.
I will say the Beef House is good. It's not the best steak house I've ever eaten at, but I can see why it's been in business for over 40 years. It does a good job with what it is and it's a favorite destination for a lot of people. If you get a chance to stop by the Beef House at some point, you've got to try it at least once.