Age of high steaks

Photo By Deidre Pike

Ah, that month before you turn 18 years old and enter into abridged adulthood. (You know, “abridged” adulthood. You can’t drink, gamble or go to strip clubs. But you can vote, join the military and dance at strip clubs.)

This nebulous time between childhood and something more has been difficult for our protagonist Eric, who’d be happier with his prospects if he could only 1) find a job and 2) buy a car.

“All my friends want to grow up,” he says contemplatively, sawing into 14 ounces of sirloin and forking a bloody piece of meat. “I just want to be a little kid again.”

“How old?” I ask, dipping a length of battered fish into tartar sauce.

“I don’t know. Maybe seven. I wouldn’t have to worry about girls. I’d do it all differently.”

“What would you do differently?”

“I’d work harder in school, for one thing,” he says. “And I’d handle relationships better, not get mad at people.”

“But you’ve learned from your mistakes. And you’re only 17. That’s not so old.”

“I feel old, Mom.”

Eric scoops up some garlic mashed potatoes and finds comfort in their starchy goodness.

“Potatoes are my friend,” he says. “You can do so many things with potatoes … fry ’em, bake ’em.”

“Potatoes are nice.”

Eric and I are discussing tubers and the economics of life at Rapscallion’s Roadhouse Grille, one of my favorite restaurants in Sparks. Eric’s dad and I frequently come here for bowls of French onion soup with Gruyere cheese ($4.75) and a shared Roadhouse pizza. We like the Mediterranean with feta, basil, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and artichoke hearts ($9.25) or the ranch-roasted chicken ($8.75).

This night, though, I decide to try something different. Eric and I start out with an order of handbreaded onion rings ($4.50). The breading is the light and crumbly sort that I favor over the thick, glompy dough that some onions end up drenched in. Eric likes the dips—a tangy barbecue sauce and nice, creamy ranch.

“Ranch is where it’s at,” he says.

I order the fish and chips ($10.95), which comes with fries and coleslaw. It’d be nice if you could substitute a salad for the fries. Waiter David says I can add a salad, but I’m really not that hungry. Besides, potatoes are my friend, too.

Eric doesn’t even consider the Roadhouse Grille’s 72-ounce steak deal, in which the hunk o’ sirloin is served free to anyone who can eat it—and its trimmings—within one hour. (If you can’t do it, the steak costs more than $60, so you’d have to train to win this gluttonous event.)

“I don’t need to eat a whole cow,” he says, ordering the 14-ounce sirloin ($13.95). “Just part of a cow.” He doesn’t finish the steak, sharing some with me—so I can verify that it’s cooked to medium rare perfection—and taking the rest home for a snack.

I finish a margarita, and my son gets a refill of Pepsi/Coke. I politely ignore his suggestion that I buy him beer. I don’t ask him how he knows that he doesn’t like tequila. At this point, the tone of the conversation shifts.

“It’ll be fun to have a drink with you some day, Mom," he says. "I can’t wait until I turn 21."