I went to 23 Steps Steakhouse in Highlands this past Saturday for a date night. Although the entrance in located directly on Main Street in Highlands, you walk up 23 steps (hence, the name) and immediately feel like you've stepped into a cozy European restaurant. (There is a back entrance through the patio for those who don't want to take steps.)
The hostess was at the front to greet us and we were seated immediately. The decor was chic and not overdone and fussy. In the little time it took the hostess to gather the menus, two waiters walked by, smiled, and said hello. Although there were quite a few patrons there, I didn't feel like we were being rushed at all. Rather, it seemed as though the staff pays special attention to each customer.
SEATING AND ATMOSPHERE
The indoor seating was charming and overlooks Main Street and the shoppers below but we chose to sit in the outdoor patio area. The patio was cool and comfortable - perfect for a summer dinner. The lighting was low but not too dark and I was very happy to see that the tables were spaced evenly apart where you don't feel like you're sitting on top of the next table, nor do you feel like you're stranded among a few sparse tables. Light music was playing through outdoor speakers but it was the perfect volume and wasn't obtrusive to the conversation. Little tea light candles were on each table, giving the atmosphere a cozy and romantic glow.
WINE, FOOD SELECTION AND SERVICE
We had a very specific type of wine we wanted and the manager, Andrei, was extremely patient and kind while helping us choose the right one. He was very knowledgeable about their wine menu and made several excellent suggestions, allowing us to taste several, until we found exactly what we were looking for. There was also a full bar that catered to any other alcohol preference.
Our waitress, Tanya, knew the menu perfectly and was able to easily answer questions about each menu item and the specials. She was also very conscientious about making sure she delivered the food exactly as we wanted and in the order we wanted. (This was something I found truly unique and stands apart from other restaurants that simply deliver the food as soon as it's prepared.)
The food menu was wonderful. There were wonderful southern classics available such as fried mushrooms, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp and grits. We ordered the fried mushrooms for an appetizer and I was very impressed because most restaurants over-salt this and I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't over-salted. Both of us also ordered the mushroom bisque, which is my favorite item on the menu, and something I order every time I come. It was delivered very promptly after our appetizer, served piping hot, and was just as delicious as the last time I had ordered it, The house salad was simple and fresh and there were a wide variety of dressings to choose from, all made in house. For our entrees, I ordered the Chicken Kiev which included a very large portion of chicken (made to perfection), fresh green beans, and roasted potatoes. My fiance ordered the special that night, lamb, which was also a very large portion, and came with a rosemary tomato, red wine sauce and mashed potatoes. Both of us were 100% happy with our choices and my only complaint was that I wasn't able to finish everything ;)
Despite the fact that were were stuffed, we decided to try the strawberry mousse for dessert. It was absolutely heavenly and made with real strawberries and fresh ingredients.
Overall, I am always overly impressed with this restaurant and would absolutely recommend it to anyone in the area. Although the food is fantastic, it's the service that truly sets this restaurant apart from others in the area.
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