We'd never tried Shula's, even though it seems you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one. We made early evening reservations, and were seated immediately. The room is cavernous, high-ceilinged, and faux gentlemen's club. Much wood and dark colors. Very nice, but a bit "Hollywood". The gimmick in the title is that they bring a football, complete with kicking stand, to the table. On it are written the cuts of steak available. Really? I'd thought that's what menus are for.
The wine list was acceptable, if a bit pricey for what's offered. A bit over the double-mark-up. In some cases, very over. The menu has great options, and (given the faux feel) I was surprised when the items showed imagination and range. They wanted to bring the meat cart, but we demurred: that just seems a bit grisley for our tastes, and after all, most folks know what they like.
One item on the menu is a huge cut of beef, something like a 48 oz. porterhouse, that we had the . . .pleasure of watching a just turned legal young man work his way through at the next table. Apparently, if you finish it, you get your photo on their wall of gluttony.
The service was attentive, if not particularly well informed, and there were several nearby servers and table help who seemed pleasant and charming. Unfortunately, ours seemed more fit for the locker room than table-side, and he was more impressed with himself than us. But, bottom line, he got most of our order right, got it to the table fairly promptly, and counted on his bus help to keep us watered and cared for.
The food is good. I can't complain about the food: it was well cooked, generous, and seasoned with a deft hand. It's a good steakhouse.
For the price, it should have been a bit more, however. Several restaurants in that price range come to mind: Spencer's in Orlando, Flemings everywhere we've been, Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach, and on.
This was just a bit unconvincing. A good steakhouse should give you the feeling that Frank and Sammy might be at the next table; that the mob dines there regularly, that (even if it's years ago) there's still a slight pall of cigarette smoke and martini fumes hovering below the rafters. This felt like you were (as you are) in a Hilton parking lot, and the most outrageous thing that's happened there is some smarmy kid in shorts, flipflops, and a backward baseball cap did too much Stolly and puked in the (albeit luxurious) men's room.
Good food, but the whole thing feels a bit too Disney. (But to be fair, we'd go again, if we couldn't find better nearby.)
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