I could actually have said three out of four ain't bad, but then the Meat Loaf reference would have been lost.
Really, almost the entire meal myself and my Partner in Food had at recently could be considered a success. The service was top notch. The atmosphere in this 15-year-old Elm Street restaurant is beautiful. The appetizers, especially the Ahi Ahi Tuna Tartare, were sublime. And my burger, the Sebastian's Steakhouse Burger, is an excellent blend of salty Stilton blue cheese, sweet caramelized onions and tender ground beef, all on a handsome Brioche roll. Heck, even the onion rings we ordered instead of the usual steak fries were excellent.
Still, there was one item on this night that left both of us disappointed: The steak. And, unfortunately, at a steakhouse, that is inexcusable.
So, what went wrong? First, as my Partner-in-Food pointed out, the server or the chef may have mixed the orders. I asked for my burger ($17, so yes, it better be good) medium. She asked for her Filet Mignon ($36) medium rare. What came out seemed to be decidedly opposite. While my burger was still tasty in its far less than medium state, her steak was just a bit pink. Even worse, beyond the middle it was almost cooked well-done.
Tangent. I have a relative who always orders her steaks as done as possible. When you're going to a place that sells $10 steaks, that's fine I guess. But, she even did this in a NYC steakhouse that was charging $50 per slab of animal. What's the point? Side note to this tangent: At the $50 per slab place, she actually asked them to take it back and cook it a little more, because "done" just wasn't done enough.
For me and my dinner companion, however, a great steak has pink to spare. I even enjoy them "black and blue (pretty much just seared on the outside)" on occasion.
Making the most of an unfortunate situation, and not wanting to delay our meal by returning the steak, we ate it. The steak, even beyond being overcooked, was dry, it's overall flavor unremarkable. A side of some sort of citrus-infused butter accompanied the Filet Mignon, but it's flavor was too strong. The sides to the steak seemed an afterthought, with a single potato wedge as dry as the steak, the mixed vegetables overcooked.
And, yet, I would rather like to consider this an anomaly than the norm. First, a restaurant in Morristown does not survive 15 years charging what Sebastian's charges by serving less-than-excellent food.
And, there's that excellent burger. Incidentally, our server gave us a postcard for "The Big Cheese: Search for NJ's Best Burger," of which Sebastian's Chef Dean Piccolo's burger is in competition. I would certainly consider it a contender. And, if that, our Beet, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad, Ahi Ahi Tuna Tartare–heck, even our warm and tasty bread assortment, made up the entirety of our meal, this would have been a slam dunk review. But, when the weakest link also is your restaurant's namesake, it's impossible not to recommend without a caveat.
Still, I am more than willing to go back and give another steak a chance. I just might want to order it "rare" this time, and hope I get what I ask for.