Walking in the screened front door of Doe’s Eat Place, we immediately assumed we had made a mistake – we were standing in the kitchen, right next to the grill. We asked and they waved us through to the second kitchen – where the salads, toast and fries were made – and a lady asked if we had a reservation.
I sheepishly said’ “No” and she asked if we thought we could eat in an hour. “Sure”, I replied and she showed us to the side room where they had a party of forty-two coming at 7:00. After talking to the other couple in our room (they were halfway through dinner when we were seated), they told the history of the restaurant.
Back in the 40s, there was a doctor who stopped by this grocery store on his way home to have them cook him a steak. He came in, off the back porch (now the front door), through the kitchen for years. But when he started bringing his friends, they created a “white” entrance and dining room in the back of the restaurant. It stayed that way into the 60s, when, with integration, they closed off that front (back) door and the entrance has remained in the kitchen ever since.
The waitress came to the table and told us our dinner choices – there is no menu and the servers all learn the menu to heart. There were several steaks, tamales and, I may remember them saying, spaghetti. We were there for steak, so we ordered the porterhouse – a 26-or-so ounce behemoth. It was served with fries and we also ordered a salad.
I turned it so the filet (more done) side was facing my partner, as she liked her steak closer to medium well than medium rare. They had pre-sliced sections off each side of the bone and I stabbed a segment and placed it on my plate, with some fries and a piece of toast.
Cutting into it, it was a beautiful medium rare – it actually looked like a piece of ahi tuna sashimi. And it melted in your mouth.
We knew we were in a time crunch (the steak arrived around 6:25) and we wasted no time digging in.
The fries, which we saw being fried in a iron skillet through the doorway (we asked, and they do have a deep fryer for when they get busy), were long cut, crispy crusted and piping hot.
This may have been the best porterhouse I’ve ever had. We sopped the juice with the toast and fries. We used the knife to cut as much meat as we could from the bone. Then we gnawed the bone.
Our plates were empty, the table was clean and we were paying (I did have a sudden fear that they were cash only and the waitress hadn’t mentioned any prices, but I saw the card machine), at 6:50. Success.
As we walked out, we spoke to a man in the kitchen (he turned out to be Doe Signa, Jr.) about the quality of the steak. He said it wasn’t him who deserved the credit and he yelled into the side room for the young man who had actually cooked it, so we could tell him, instead. Then Doe told us they were franchising and had 12 other locations, so now we know of another place to look for, on the road.