Every 12 – 18 months since 2006, my grandmother, her sisters, and their descendants have gathered at the MCM Elegante Suites in Abilene, TX to visit, eat, and take lots of pictures. It is a great way to stay in touch with some family members, reconnect with others, and meet still others for the very first time. Recently, such a gathering took place, to the immense joy of my grandmother. However, as this was not our first rodeo, there were some welcome changes to our food itinerary. During previous reunions, mostly for ease, we have eaten at the hotel restaurant. I promise you, we were NOT eating there because we enjoyed it. I think for my sister and me (and possibly others), it was the most dreaded part of the entire trip.
Then…lo, and behold, several months ago, my sister and her husband were at a foodie event and sampled cuisine from Perini’s Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap. Through conversation with the Perini’s rep at the table, my sister discovered that Buffalo Gap is just a few miles outside of Abilene. While I wasn’t there, I’m positive her heart leaped for joy inside her chest. There was a solution to our hotel food woes!! Without wasting any time, Jill began to spread the good word. Eventually we made reservations, despite my father’s warning of “they have big city prices.” He also says, “some things are worth paying for.” He is right on both counts. Transportation logistics were a small concern as was whether or not my grandparents could or would make the trip down the road, but they persevered to make the journey. In fact, all EIGHTEEN of us went. You may have heard the cliche’ about “a diamond in the rough” before, and Perini’s Steakhouse embodies that little phrase like it’s its job. It doesn’t look like much from the front, but don’t let appearances fool you. There was much more than met my eyes. Out back, there was a gigantic seating area and a chuck wagon! Heck, yes, I took a picture with it!
Inside, on the menu, there weren’t endless choices, but they did all look delicious. While we perused the food options, I noticed a little warning at the bottom of the menu that said one needed a membership to Perini’s to purchase alcoholic beverages. Eeeekkk! Hold up. A membership? Yes, cowboys and cowgirls, we were in a dry county so memberships are the way Perini’s is able to sell its customers liquor. You can get a temporary membership (covers up to four people) for $3 or a lifetime membership for $25. Well now. Timothy did get a membership, and of course, I documented it. While I didn’t get my own alcoholic beverage, I did sample the ones around me. Have you ever had a Bloody Mary? I tried it for the first time this weekend, and it left my brain confused. It was good…but also sort of like drinking liquid cocktail sauce. Strange. The margarita was deeeelicious!
Oh, you want to hear about the food, do you? Well, I suppose since this is a food blog, I could hurry up and get around to it. We ordered bacon-wrapped jalapeños for our table along with our steaks. I got the 10 ounce prime rib with cowboy potatoes on the side, steak done medium rare. Normally I’m a straight-up medium gal, but I’ve learned that prime rib is intended to be served medium rare so I do as I’m supposed to with that cut of meat. When the jalapeño bites came to the table, they were served in a wee cast iron skillet – it was TOO cute! I nearly forgot to take a picture of them because we were so busy scarfing them down. I make my own version of these, but I use half of a pepper wrapped in bacon while Perini’s used a quarter of a pepper wrapped in a piece of bacon. I think I might like that better! I thoroughly examined my peppers before I ate them to see how they put it all together. I also think I may go to baking rather than broiling as they had good bacon texture, too.
When my steak came out, it was a little redder than I was ready for, but I did not let that stop me from slicing right in. The meat was juicy and tender with a peppered crust, served with a creamy horseradish sauce that I quite enjoyed. And those potatoes?? People, I’m not typically a red potato fan as I don’t always like their flavor or texture. But these potatoes may have changed the way I look at red potatoes. They were buttery and garlicky and creamy and oh-so-eat-every-single-one-of-them delicious. No lie – they were amazing. I surely did clean my plate.
Oh! So, most restaurants will frequently use parsley or a lettuce for garnish, right? Well. Parsley is for wimps at Perini’s. Our plates all came garnished with these extremely loooong jalapeño peppers. We were all astonished and impressed! My younger cousin was goaded into taking a humongous bite of his by my brother and one of the younger cousin’s older brothers. I watched that debacle from our table and felt sorry for him when I could see him gagging and spitting it out. Just in case you’ve never been down that road, raw jalapeños should NOT be munched on like an afterschool snack.
So the take-home lesson today, boys and girls, is that if you are in the Abilene area, take Buffalo Gap road out of Abilene and right on into Buffalo Gap, TX, population 463, and have yourself a wonderful meal at Perini’s. You won’t regret it, and it will certainly make for happy eating!