My happiness was at steak

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I began the day with a terrible taste in my mouth, and then the weather started changing from bad to worse. I could tell it wasn't going to be a routine Sunday.

As for that rancid flavor circulating through my teeth, well, no amount of brushing and scrubbing and mouthwashing would alleviate its presence and stench. Unfortunately, I was all too aware of its wretched origin -- I was chewing over the brutally bitter taste of defeat. You see, something awful had happened to me (along with about 100,000 of my best friends) the prior (get it?) night. Yeah, my Buckeyes had let me down.

Normally autumnal Sundays are glorious times for coffee, newspapers, comfort food and prolonged acts of indolence culminating in a whole day of football watching. And then more comfort food. But that day I didn't want to feel awake, needed to avoid all news and desperately hated football.

Most unusual (for me), as far as food was concerned, my feelings could best be summed up by paraphrasing another really depressed guy, "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seemed to me all the dishes of the world." Man, I needed a distraction.

After a pathetic series of pity naps, I found myself driving aimlessly around Bexley when suddenly I spotted the placatingly familiar black-and-white motif of The Top Steak House. Hell, it'd somehow gotten to be well past six -- meaning maybe a drink might help. I mean, it certainly couldn't hurt.

When I stepped inside the darkly lit, vintage '50s-looking haunt, I knew I was in the right place. Over the soothing tinkling of the piano player, I made my way to a comfy, padded black swivel chair at the copper-topped bar. I stared at the handsomely carved dark woodwork. I even managed to laugh at the Browns on TV.

As my super-friendly bartender took my drink order, he informed me of a Sunday night bar-only dinner special: the Top's Steak Frites.

Seeing how the last substantial meal I'd had was one of crow the night before, and how the booze was heroically doing its job of lubricating my jaws, I took him up on it. Man, was I glad I did.

Eight expansive ounces of tender, prime, juicy ribeye were placed before me, seared and capped with a ton of deeply sauteed onions. (Be forewarned, the onions effectively make a sauce and heavily flavor the steak.)

On the side was a gargantuan order of golden brown, ungreasy, obviously hand-cut french fries as good as any in the city. And here's the punch line: that soulful -- and soul-saving -- meal cost a mere $17 (about half price).

As I finished up (it was good to the last bite), I noticed the Browns were actually going to win another game. I smiled. I felt better than I thought possible. I let my gaze wander from the Top's neon-pink martini glass to its neon-blue musical note to the rain-streaked streets outside the windows onto a slow Bexley evening. I leaned back, surprised myself with a silly grin and asked to see the dessert menu.

The Top Steak House

2891 E. Main St., Bexley 614-231-8238