Like Billy’s Inn, Snooze et al., Steuben’s has developed a stylized version of the kind of retro-populist repertoire that, at its best, no born-&-bred American can resist. At its worst, of course, it yields massive amounts of culinary kryptonite sleeper cells should be so lucky to hoard. The day it incorporates this


or this,


for instance, is the day the terrorists win.

Nonetheless our weird friends smuggled both onto the patio in celebration of Petey’s birthday, apparently on the grounds that it’s not a party until you go to Crazy Tasty Town on the back of a frosted ass. (Granted, put that way, their subversiveness sounds something like a high form of patriotism.)

Meanwhile, however, it’s not a meal at Steuben’s until you take your first bite of something you could as easily have ordered at a Yankee deli, Dixie roadhouse or streetcar diner along Route 66 back in the day.

Steuben’s, as I’ve said before, is generally greater than the sum of its parts. From the awesome smattering of vintage barware to the cheeky mix of chrome & vinyl & checkerboard tile, from the juice glasses for serving wine farmhouse-style to the old tins for serving fries, oh, Cannery Row-style,


everything’s designed to help you kick back, not make you sit up & take notice—everything bids you forget yourself, not commit to memory every last morsel. (Granted, some of us kick back more than others:


So it’s only a bonus when a soupçon of excellence does emerge from the haze of relaxation. Ergo extra points for these exemplary deviled eggs:


All too often insipid—mushy rather than creamy, picalilli-sticky rather than paprika-spiked, etc.—the filling here is spot-on savory inside those perfectly hard-cooked albumin vessels.


My Cobb salad was 1 ingredient shy of classic, lacking blue cheese, but since I’d ordered a side of blue-cheese dressing to supplement the vinaigrette it came with, all was well. Certainly it was an improvement over the half-assed Caesar I’d had last time I posted on Steuben’s. Meanwhile, the Director’s fried chicken was every bit as good as previously—perhaps even better, the gravy just a touch thinner & creamier, the biscuit a bit fresher. Speaking of fresh,


look how it climbed up right in the chicken’s lap! See, even the bakery products have a sassy good time at Steuben’s.