During my time in San Antonio earlier this summer, one of my colleagues who works for one of our British manufacturers wanted to take my colleague and I out for a great steak dinner. We were staying at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort, site of the conference we were attending and we asked the concierge if there were any great steakhouses in the area. She didn't hesitate and told us about Perry's Steakhouse in the upscale Shops at La Cantera shopping and entertainment complex just down the hill from the resort. In fact, she told us that they have a courtesy vehicle that would take us there and pick us up. We couldn't say no at that point.
Perry's Steakhouse and Grille started out as a family-owned butcher shop that eventually turned into a small regional chain. In 1979, Bob Perry opened a small meat shop on the southeast side of Houston that quickly became well-known for their great cuts of meat, including an incredible bone-in pork chop. In 1986, son Chris Perry joined his father and convinced him to open a small dining room where people could pick out their cuts of meat and have them grilled on site and served in the restaurant. It quickly became known as Perry and Son's Market and Grill and it went over tremendously well. They opened a second location in nearby Friendswood, TX in 1989.
The Perry's stepped up to the big leagues by opening their first upscale Perry's Steakhouse in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake in 1993. Today, there are 13 Perry's Steakhouse and Grille locations with six in the greater Houston location (their flagship location in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake will close this fall and they'll relocate to a much larger facility nearby), two in Dallas, one in Austin and one in San Antonio. Over the past few years, they've gone beyond the Texas border with locations in Denver, Birmingham, AL and one in the Oak Brook area of Chicago. (I never knew they had a Perry's in Oak Brook - it opened in November of 2013 in the Oakbrook Center shopping complex.)
The Perry's Steakhouse and Grilled in the Shops of La Cantera opened in November of 2011. It's located on the far east side of the complex with other restaurants nearby. The courtesy van driver from the La Cantera resort dropped us right near the front door. (see map)
As you walk in the door, there is a meat cooler showing the different cuts of meats that Perry's Steakhouse has to offer. All of the steaks served at Perry's are cuts of USDA prime beef, butchered in their in-house meat shop and cut to order. Perry's Steakhouse also features bone-in ribeye and New York strip steaks in addition to bone-in lamb chops.
The inside of Perry's Steakhouse is a typical elegant steakhouse with dark wood paneling, subdued lighting and comfy seating. There's a very nice bar area at Perry's - Bar 79 - and private dining is available, as well. We didn't have a reservation, but we didn't have to wait long to get seated. The three of us were escorted to a circular booth near the open kitchen area and given menus to look over.
Our server for the evening - and I never did get his name - was sort of a nervous fellow. He was sort of fumbling his words and sort of acted like it was his first day on the job in an upscale restaurant. Who knows? It may have been. And as I was looking through the menu, unbeknownst to me, the waiter dumped water on my colleague seated across the large semi-circular table. The next thing I knew we were getting moved to another booth nearby. I mean, my colleague was soaked and so was the table cloth. I was like, "What happened? Where was I when this happened?"
We moved to a second half-circle booth and the first waiter we had was promptly replaced by a new guy. My colleague called over the manager and said, "Hey, we want the first guy. It was an accident. The poor guy's day can't get any worse than that."
And with that, our original waiter was back - much less nervous than he was before. "Thanks, guys," he said apologetically. "I don't know what's going on today. Just a bad day, I guess." His service was stellar from then on out.
The first thing I did was to look through the extensive wine menu to find something that we could drink with our beef or pork. I found a 2011 Terrazas Reserva Mendoza Malbec that was a little overpriced at $50 a bottle, but we ordered it up anyway.
We ordered our food and got some appetizers to start out. One of the guys spied the bacon-wrapped scallops on the menu and decided on getting those for a starter. They were four large scallops wrapped in a thick slice of bacon and grilled to a dark brown color. I had one and it was simply scrumptious. I don't know why I don't do bacon wrapped scallops at home on my grill.
I got the wedge salad - it was one of the smallest wedge salads at an upscale steakhouse that I'd ever been served. It was a quarter of a small wedge of lettuce, topped with chunks of bacon, chopped tomatoes, red onion rings and a chunky blue cheese dressing. Although it was small, it was very good. I think I gave the waiter carpel tunnel from him twisting the pepper grinder so many times to load up the fresh cracked black pepper on the salad. I like black pepper, something that I'm sure I got from my dad.
It turned out that I didn't probably need a large wedge salad as the three peppercorn New York strip that I ordered was a nearly 1 pound piece of meat. It was rolled in black peppercorns and served with a peppercorn reduction sauce with chopped pink and green peppercorns served on top. I had ordered the steak medium-rare and when I did the fork test to see how done it was it felt like it was woefully overcooked. But when I cut into the steak it turned out that it was a perfect medium rare. Cooking the steaks over a high temperature will harden the outside of the steak, sort of making it crispy. That's how the steak was at Perry's Steakhouse. And the taste was fabulous. It had a great peppery taste and the reduction sauce just added to the taste sensation. This was a great steak.
Along with the New York strip, I also ordered a side of sautéed mushrooms for all of us to share. They were big button-capped mushrooms sautéed in butter and topped with chopped parsley. They were so big that I had to cut them into thirds when I ate them. These, too, were just fabulous.
The tenderloin filet, shrimp and lobster kabob (pictured right) was what one of my colleagues got. The presentation was rather interesting - they hung the kabob from a hook and brought it to the table like that. The kabob featured a couple of thick pieces of beef tenderloin, a good sized segment of lobster tail and three or four grilled shrimp. It was served with a side of asparagus. He said that the combination of the shrimp, steak and lobster meat was outstanding. And he was having trouble finishing the meal because of the richness of the lobster and the shrimp, and the amount of beef tenderloin that was on the kabob.
Since they started in 1979, Perry's have sourced their pork chops from the Midwest - I'm guessing primarily from Iowa since we have such outstanding pork in the state - and they've become famous for them in their restaurants. My other colleague got the pork chop for his selection. The pork chop was brought to the table and with a rather large fanfare the waiter carves the huge pork chop table side.
He cut about a third of the way down, cross-ways against the grain of the pork chop, then did another cut to make three cuts in the chop. It makes it much easier for the diner to cut and handle than using a large carving knife to get through the large pork chop. After Perry's procures the pork chops from their supplier, they cure the pork, then they slow roast it before finishing it off in a smoker giving the outer skin a caramelized coating. I almost got the pork chop just based on its description in the menu and after seeing it across from me I was very sorry that I didn't. Knowing now that Perry's Steakhouse is located in the western suburbs of Chicago, I may have to stop in and try the pork chop. My colleague said the taste and tenderness was out of this world. "This may be the best pork I've ever had in my life," he exclaimed about halfway through his meal.
Our overall experience at Perry's Steakhouse and Grill was wonderful. The waiter settled down tremendously after he accidentally spilled water on my colleague and wasn't so nervous the rest of the night. All of our meals were absolutely outstanding. The presentation with each meal was superb, as well. I can't think of a better New York strip that I've had and the one I had at Perry's - I'm certain - came close equalling the best I've had in the past. This was simply a tremendous dining experience. Pricey, yes. But my manufacturer colleague picked up the check and put it on his card, so the meal tasted even better!