Thursday, June 25, 2009

When is a Steak not a Steak?

Isabelle's

For the past week or two I have been walking past Isabelle's Porterhouse in Itaewon and the Country Fried Steak has been calling to me like a crispy, juicy, beefy siren song. Today I succumbed and decided to fork out 22,000 won (plus tax) of my hard earned cash for a little Southern style treat.

12 years ago I had the good fortune to visit Texas and one of my most memorable moments was sitting down to a country fried steak dinner, where the steak turned out to be bigger than the plate it was served on. It was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and absolutely delicious, yet so large I couldn't finish it. A very happy Texan memory and one which I fancied reliving today...

Isabelle's

So with glad heart and good cheer I stepped inside this quaint little restaurant. Seating just over twenty, it has a faux British pub ambience and British prices to match. A New York Strip steak goes for 45,000 won, a filet mignon for 49,000 won and a whopping 850 gram Porterhouse steak for 90,000 won (for two). The Country Fried steak at 22,000 won seemed like a bargain in this pricey joint, there couldn't be a catch could there?

Isabelle's

First came some complimentary garlic bread, not bad as standards go, but I wasn't satisfied, I wanted the steak!

Isabelle's

After a rather lengthy wait (half an hour or more), my Country Fried Steak arrived. It looked nice enough, certainly not as large as its Texan counterpart, but then everything is bigger in Texas... The mash was flavourful, though a little dry. The peas were depressing dessicated little bullets, that I wouldn't serve to my dog, if I had one, which I don't...

The steak itself was tender and relatively tasty, except for one small fault - it tasted awfully piggy. Forgive me for my presumptions, but I had assumed that Country Fried Steak unless otherwise stated would be beef. Every other main course on the menu was beef, and the only pig product mentioned on their meat disclaimer was French bacon... Was it unfair of me to think this way? Checking the internet you can see that wikipedia, texascooking.com and foodtimeline.org all describe Country Fried Steak as being beef and Isabelle's Porterhouse does seem to specialize in slices of moo-cow.

The waitress was surprised at my surprise and assured me that Country Fried steak should be pork, so I ask you dear readers: What should Country Fried steak be, what would you expect to be served and if you happen to hail from the part of the world where Country Fried steak was made famous, would you be delighted by this piggy offering or dismayed? Answers on a postcard or in the comments section please...

Isabelle's

Isabelle's Porterhouse is behind the Hamilton Hotel, diagonally opposite from the 3 Alleys Pub. You can call them on 02 749 9827, but be sure to ask which animal is the star of your dish...

7 comments:

Jen said...

That would be called a Chicken Fried Pork Chop (or Chicken Fried 돈가쓰), wouldn't it? I've never heard of such, but pork chops were rarely served at my house, and nothing was ever chicken fried. Shh... don't tell-- I don't want to have my Southern citizenship revoked. :-)

I am, therefore I think. said...

Hi, Paul.

I can only imagine your bewilderment at being served a port chicken friend steak. As a Korean American living in Dallas, Texas, I assure you that chicken fried steak is made with beef. In fact, I think there's a Texan law that allows a public hanging of anyone caught serving pork chicken fried steak. If there's no such law, well, then, there should be, because it's sacrilegious. : ) Sorry for the ruined meal, and better luck next time.

Jonathan

ZenKimchi said...

I just let out a few non-choice words in the office.

WTF!!!!!!

Country Fried Steak is BEEF. What they served you was a pork chop.

Unknown said...

Thanks guys for your comments, I phoned up their head office and advised them of their mistake. I'll check back in a week or two to see if they change the menu description...

Justin said...

I think I died a little on the inside after reading this...

My condolences on the fake steak. :(

Juicy said...

Yup, country fried steak is beef. Not always the best cut of beef, but beef. It may have been mashed and tenderized, but it's beef. Fried porkchop with gravy looks like what you got served. No less southern food authority than Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta will tell you.

Unknown said...

Thanks Justin and Juicy. If only I could visit Mary Mac's Tea Room, it looks like a fantastic place.