I really wanted to like Pace's Steakhouse. The atmosphere is so great. It really is what a steakhouse should look like inside. There are gold frames and mirrors, low lighting and black wallpapered walls. However, I just couldn't match the food with the decor. If you are looking for a good steakhouse experience in Hauppague, Pace's is the best steakhouse in Hauppague. If you want to go 20 or 30 miles outside of Hauppague (maybe less) you will find a better steakhouse. They charge Ruth Chris or Morton's prices but give much less quality.
First off, I will start with the ridiculous fact that the parking lot at Pace's is right near the restaurant. In the front and on the side. Yet, they require you to valet your car. Even if you are there later at night, when the parking lot is empty. It is almost like a scene from a movie. You pull into the restaurant parking lot and you have to stop at the valet stand. You get out of the car, the valet gets in and drives your car 15 feet away into a space. Totally ridiculous. And of course when you come out, you have to stand in the entryway of the restaurant, hand the valet a ticket (even though your car is so close you can read the license plate), wait until he walks 15 feet to your car and pulls it up next to you. And then of course you have to tip him.
The biggest problem I have with Pace's is that they try too hard to put their own spin on things and get creative while trying to be a typical steakhouse. The escargot come out of the shell on top of a baked mashed potato covered in a salty brown gravy. Why totally hide the taste of the escargot by placing them on top of salty potatos covered in a salty gravy? Why not do the whole butter and garlic in the shell thing? Instead, it looks like a bunch of large raisins on top of some potatos with gravy.
Another thing is the side dishes. There are no hash brown potatos. Only homefries, which are pieces of potatos fried in butter and onions with too much salt on them. Pace's really tends to go overboard with the salt. Also, the macaroni and cheese looks and tastes like it came from a box. It is small little pasta beads covered in a runny orange cheese sauce. Very hard to eat ... and tastes just like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Really, there was no difference. I was expecting a ziti or noodle with fresh and sharp tasting white cheddar and maybe parmesean cheese. Instead, it was almost like an orange cheese soup with small pieces of pasta in it. There were no au gratin potatos either, which is odd ... most of the side dishes that are known at steakhouses are unavailable at Pace's.
There are a lot of varieties on the menu. Stay away from the prixe fix menu because it really doesn't have any of the good stuff on it. You have to pay $14 extra for the filet minion. I ordered the petit filet minion for $30. It was small, that is for sure. It wouldn't fill most people up ... you'd be worth getting the bigger one for $6 more. The filet was overcooked. I ordered it medium and it came completely grey inside and not juicy at all. I was expecting a pink/reddish center but it was actually medium well or maybe even well. It did have a crispy outside that had a very salty taste ... a Pace's specialty, I guess ... salty taste. I thought for the size and the price, it wasn't a very good deal. I guess from what I hear the $40+ Porterhouse is the way to go.
One thing that was clear to me is that the food didn't taste like it was made fresh. Someone else said that they received rock lobster tail with their surf and turf, which would lead me to believe that the lobster tail was frozen. There was no lobster tank that I saw. The macaroni and cheese obviously was not fresh and the baked mashed potatos and escargot didn't taste fresh or made from scratch either. That would be my opinion, but obviously I didn't see the chef make it.
The waitstaff is good. They are very attentive and your water glass will not be even half empty before it is refilled. In terms of the waiters ... I got the impression that my waiter was like the waiters Italy is famous for. Extremely capable but sort of condescending. In Italy, waiters are looked at like a trade and act that way ... superior to the customer even if they are serving the customer. At Pace's right off the bat, the waiter was upselling. I explained that I wasn't extremely hungry but that didn't stop him from seeming puzzled that I didn't want to order the three course meal or that I was skipping a salad or appetizer. I didn't see him after the order was made. Other people brought my food to the table, cleared it and asked if I wanted dessert. The waiter simply took my order and brought the check. Which is how it is supposed to be. I don't mind this because this is the style of waiting in Italy and I am used to it, however, someone used to being fawned over by a waiter might be a little put off by it.
The prices are high but this is high end for the area steakhouse. The atmosphere lets you know that you are somewhere special and the food is pretty good for the area the restaurant is in. Based on the quality of the food, I probably wouldn't go back unless I was taking a client out and wanted a nice, impressive looking place. I wouldn't say my meal was bad ... the food certainly wasn't the best ... but overall, this was an enjoyable dining experience. I will say that one thing that takes away from the atmosphere is that the lounge is right next to the main dining room, which means you can clearly hear the kareoke going on. And when the kareoke isn't going on, there is a mix of 70s music playing. I'd much rather hear Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in a Steakhouse than Fleetwood Mac ... especially if its being sung by a businessman who's had a few drinks. Speaking of which, the Martinis are excellent at Pace's.
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