In the flesh

Rating: Medium rare
Waiter Dave brings out a plate with a round, sizzling chunk of meat the size of a large eggplant. It looks more like a pot roast than a 12-ounce filet mignon, seared on the outside, raw on the inside. My son’s eyes widen. He grins.

“It’s hot,” Waiter Dave warns. “About 400 degrees hot.”

He sets a side dish of potatoes in a separate casserole in front of my 19-year-old, Dan. As a garnish, a huge rippled potato chip is thrust into the ornate mound of garlic mashed.

We are in the swankest corner of the truck stop/casino known as Western Village. Who knew Sparks had this much class?

Dan had been pleased with my suggestion to go feed after a concert Monday. Dan, who plays viola in the Truckee Meadows Community College Orchestra, was looking dapper in his white tux shirt and black bow tie. His friend, Sheree, had braided his curly, bleach-blond hair into about a dozen tiny braids.

The small orchestra played for an hour, covering the Brook Green Suite by Gustav Holst, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and a Mozart clarinet concerto. When it ended, we decided to head to Western Village. Dan had never been to the Steak House. Neither had I.

The interior is kind of ‘70s disco—strips of glowing pink and blue with tiny white lights—within a faux flora jungle. From where we sit, I can see flashy neon advertising “Quarters.” Our waiter David brings two long loaves of bread.

“Not many options for vegetarians,” I note to Dan, looking at the menu. “But then, duh, it is a steak house.”

“They have sautéed onions,” he says. “Onions are a vegetable.”

I decide on prime rib ($17.95). Living dangerously, I select pepper beef with bleu cheese soup over the house salad. Waiter Dave promises that if I don’t like the soup, he’ll make me a salad.

Dan orders the grand filet mignon ($22.95). He’s impressed when the salad is prepared at the table and likes the house dressing so much that he declares it the best salad he’s ever had.

We talk about school, work and stress. I predict I’ll have a heart attack before I’m 40. Dan says that stress and post-heart attack behavior were recently discussed in his psychology class. “People quit their jobs after having heart attacks,” he says, “and they’re happier.”

My soup is good, a creamy artery-clogging mass of tender meat and tiny chunks of bleu cheese. My steak is OK, but the au jus is a bit salty. The side dish of potatoes au gratin is swimming in cheesy cholesterol.

But Dan has a great time with his steaming hunk o’ flesh. He finishes it off and then digs into a phenomenal caramel apple pie tart ($4.75).

“I feel like I’m going to prom,” he tells me, enjoying the almond-scented warm towels brought at the meal’s end.

I feel overfed, but no matter. My violist is happy, healthy and full of good will. He is young and life is long and there is time to eat meat today.