Positives: Simple, well-prepared food; quiet surroundings
Negative: Out of the way; basic service
A favorite for locals, Simon's Catch is also a destination restaurant for travelers. Influenced by the large number of positive comments, we decided this was a must-visit restaurant during a recent visit to western Oklahoma.
The restaurant is located near Merritt, a rural community southwest of Elk City. Getting there was surprisingly easy. Local roads are straight and in good condition. Strategically-placed signs mark the way.
Outside and Inside -
Restaurant facilities are basic, simple, and rustic. Turning off the county road, you'll pass through a gate to their gravel parking lot. It provided plenty of space the Thursday we visited but we're told early arrival is important Friday nights and weekends as the place is packed.
Behind the parking area is a log cabin-style main building that features a wrap-around covered porch. Some chairs are provided, probably for customers as they wait during busy periods.
A covered pavilion for special events sits behind the main building. Beyond that, a thicket of scrubby trees.
Interior decor is even more basic than the outside. Main walls are covered with planks, while the ceiling and interior walls are painted waferboard. A corrugated steel divider separates a work station from customers. Various pictures and knick-knacks adorn the walls, and a bear skin is draped over the divider.
Basic pedestal tables and stackable chairs crowd the dining room. Many are worn from use. However, the night we visited, the entire facility was very clean.
Menu and Meal -
Simon's Catch specializes in a few things. All-you-can-eat catfish is one, but the restaurant also has a reputation for excellent steaks. We traveled there for the latter.
The menu offers several varieties of steak. I selected a KC Strip; my wife chose a ribeye. Our entrees were generally good but there was room for improvement.
Before the main course, we were served basic salads garnished with small pieces of toast in lieu of croutons. They were typical of steakhouses. The greens were refreshingly cool and crisp, the toast crunchy and flavorful.
Both steaks were large, high-quality cuts of beef. Sides included baked potatoes and fresh hot rolls. My wife's ribeye was uniformly grilled to medium, but my KC Strip was cooked unevenly. The center section was cooked to medium (as ordered) but was extremely rare on the ends. Both would have been improved with more seasoning.
Overall, our meals were very good...but not the best we've tasted.
Service without a Smile -
Our server was efficient and professional but not particularly welcoming. She appeared more comfortable with familiar customers. Despite her standoffish demeanor, she did provide essentials in a timely fashion...and surprised us by bringing a complimentary dessert in celebration of our anniversary. For the price, though, we thought a few more pleasantries were in order.
The Bottom Line -
Simon's Catch delivers good food in a clean, no-nonsense environment. It's a nice place to celebrate, certainly a destination restaurant, but isn't a restaurant we'd visit every day even if we lived nearby.
Service could use a little improvement. I'm sure the server was busy, but smiles cost nothing and reap big rewards.
Overall value depends a lot on the entree selected. Although we didn't order catfish, the plates we saw were loaded with food at a nominal price. Steaks cost considerably more. Their price is not out of line compared with other steakhouses, but they cost more than we'd normally spend for a meal.
We hope to explore the area further and stop here again. Next time we will definitely try the fish. Who knows...we may also split a steak for a Beckham County "surf and turf."
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