Steak and Ale: sounds like one of those gruff Old World inns with a large stone fireplace, heavy aged oak tables, and a large woodcut sign out front, serving large grilled pieces of meat with steins of dark beer.
Unfortunately, everything is not as it seems. The Steak and Ale restaurant has a more upscale atmosphere, no fireplace, and no steins that I could see. It does, however, have a good selection of steak and seafood, as well as very friendly bow-tie-donned service. The specialties are a few specially prepared filet mignons. We decided to try one stuffed with mushrooms and another with a 9-pepper sauce. The mushrooms were sauteed and filled the inside of the filet -- a great combination. The pepper sauce was a good bit spicy, but as long as you like that sort of thing, it's a wonderful change from the overdone "Cajun" spice steaks everyone else serves.
Accompanying the main dish was the customary salad and potato. The salad bar selection was just fine, but I opted for the Caesar salad instead. I just wasn't in the veggie smorgasbord mood. You understand, I'm sure. The baked potato came with a surprising selection of toppings like those you find at fast food places, but here you can control the quantity. Sour cream, chives, butter, cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon made a nice combination. I would advise against this for the cholesterol watchers, though.
The verdict? Pretty darn good. I think the prices were a buck or two on the high side, but you pay for expert preparation of the secret "9 pepper sauce," extra 'tater toppings, and the fresh ground pepper.
Steak and Ale is located in the Lehigh Valley, off Route 512 in
Bethlehem, (610) 868-9703. There may be one close to you, as well.