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Archive for Thursday, January 7, 1999

OUT LAWRENCE

January 7, 1999

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Steak 'n Shake offers a hybrid of fast-food and diner-style dining.

The Steak 'n Shake franchise launched its first restaurant in 1934 in Normal, Ill. The franchise mission was to have "real" people serve "real" food on "real" plates.

The result is a hybrid of fast-food and diner-style eating and more than 250 restaurants nationwide.

The dining room at Steak 'n Shake seems modeled after a '50s-style diner. Black-and-white checkered tile decorates the interior, which features a bar where you can belly up and eat.

The menu contains a multitude of heavy foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner that can exceed the maximum capacity of any stomach with the greatest of ease.

Steak 'n Shake specializes in sandwiches and sides; sandwiches range from $2 to $5 while sides are a couple of bucks.

During one stop, I had the Frisco Melt, some Chicken Fingers and a bacon-and-cheese double steakburger. At an earlier visit, I had the Philadelphia double steakburger, which I highly recommend.

Steak 'n Shake does not serve the most sophisticated meals, but its food really hits the spot. The sides -- classic thin fries, onion rings, cheddar cheese fries, baked beans and chili -- are in the same vein.

The chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shakes are good enough to occupy half of the restaurant's name. They're just as thick and heavy as the rest of the menu.

Another good fountain drink is the Freeze. Available in orange, lemon and lime, these tangy, ice-cold kissing cousins of the milk shake are worth trying.

Not only is there a variety of food at the restaurant, but you can get it anytime.

If you're sick of going to the usual all-night diners for a late-night meal, Steak 'n Shake may be a feasible alternative. The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week restaurant makes it easy to refuel and warm up. Those in a hurry should note that the drive-through menu is limited.

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to jbiles@ljworld.com.

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