I am a huge fan of classic American dining establishments. Unfortunately, every day more and more of these classic American restaurants from the 1950s and before are closing. Based on the reviews I read of the Hilltop Steakhouse ... I got nervous that if I didn't try it soon, I wouldn't get the chance as it could close sooner rather than later. I read about the Hilltop in the book 'Classic Dining' which recommended less than 5 classic restaurants. One of the others mentioned in the book has since closed.
When I got to the parking lot, everything was as I expected. A giant 70 foot cactus sign and plastic cows out front. Unfortunately I would soon find out that my steak would taste like it was carved out of one of those plastic cows. And the fact that several letters in the neon sign had stopped working and were left dark would prove that nobody seemed to care about service/upkeep.
Walking in, I was surprised. I wanted too see a cheesy, dated decor with red pleather booths and wagon wheels on the wall and ancient curtains. This restaurant looks more like a badly decorated Shoney's or Denny's. There are wooden booths with glass partitions featuring inlaid cacti.There is one section in the back with a big stone fireplace and a couple mounted bison heads but it lacks any kind of warmth. Most of the restaurant has light wooden tables and looks more like a banquet hall than a classic restaurant.
The floor was covered in paper and food pieces. It looks as though it had gone through an entire lunch and dinner service without being vaccumed once.
The worst part of the meal was the food. The steak appeared to have been boiled vs. grilled. It had a few very light grill marks on it. But clearly this steak was not grilled ... it was boiled or broiled and then put into some sort of George Foreman grill to give the appearance of grill marks. The steak was grey in color when it came and not dark brown making it look as unappealing as it tasted.
It was bland and as tough as rubber. At $30 this was very dissapointing. I ordered the Medium Rare and it came as Medium ... slightly pink. This seems to be the case with other reviewers as well. It was not seasoned and was as chewy as leather. There was zero taste so I had to cover it in the restaurant's house steak sauce, which was not bad. But, I may as well have got a piece of bread and covered it in steaksauce and the taste would have been the same, minus $30.
My date's piece of fish was raw in the center. (she is a vegetarian) Obviously placed in the oven frozen and the middle was not finished. It looked like they threw breadcrumbs on the top of the fish AFTER it came out of the oven. Inexcusable.
We got side salads as well. My blue cheese dressing may as well have been ranch. It tasted like sugar and had no blue cheese in it or taste of blue cheese. I've had store brand that was better. My date had the house dressing, which looks like honey mustard but tastes like Italian. The neon yellow dressing was brighter than the half working sign in the parking lot.
The rolls were the only decent part of the meal. However they were store bought generic rolls with plastic butter packets. Nothing classic about that.
We left the Hilltop very dissapointed in our tasteless meal. For a steakhouse to not grill their steaks so they are incorrectly done and shoe leather tough is amazing. Not to cook a piece of fish through is inexcusable. The decor is NOT classic ... however, if you went as a kid and it brings back classic memories of youth ... it will probably apeal to you.
The weirdest part of the evening is that we went on a Saturday and you could literally hear the booming of the DJ from the wedding reception above you. So, it felt like you were eating dinner in a room next to a Jersey Shore style dance club. Really, really distracting. The sound system in the restaurant had 70s style Marvin Gaye R&B playing, which was just as out of place but double weird when combined with the table rattling base from the reception.
The burgers in the bar seemed to look good. And they were $8. I think if I had it to do over again, I would have just done burgers and beers in the bar. Waste of money to do anything else here ... which is a shame for a place billed as a classic steakhouse with a butcher shop on premisis. The service, I will say was very good. Waitor was attentive and host seated us within a minute of entering on a Saturday.