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W.A. Frost & Company

by Bob McClain

Red Oak Steak & WIne Bar

Elegant Surprise from a “Rowdy Cowboy”

When I got the assignment to write about Red Oak Steak & Wine Bar, like most people, I made an assumption. Steak and wine bar; I know what that is. Then I arrived at the strip mall and saw the unassuming exterior. Hmmm, he said to himself. Then I walked in the front door. I stopped in my tracks and stuck my head out the door. Then I went back inside. Wow, this is nice. But what’s with the bear?

A few minutes later, I met Tom Katt, the owner. Tom has been host of the “Tom Katt Rowdy Cowboy Show” since 1970. That explains the walls covered with autographed photos of country music stars. It also explains the five deer heads, moose head, the bear, and the wild turkey over the stone fireplace. Now, before you get the notion we’re talking about a hunters lodge here, remember, Tom Katt is an entertainer. And although Tom calls himself a “rowdy cowboy” he seemed more like a southern gentleman, as my dad used to refer to himself. And the otherwise contemporary and stylish décor and lighting definitely make a suit and tie feel at home here.

The food again reveals the two sides of the Red Oak Steak and Wine Bar. Wild game is their specialty and something their chef, Vincent Mullen, is noted for. However, this is a great place for steak. They are flame grilled over hickory slats incorporated into the grill. When I asked Tom what he recommended for a first timer, he immediately recommended the steak. He also said you couldn’t go wrong with the Pan Fried Walleye. In fact, the chef at Red Oak wrote a book called 101 Ways to Cook Walleye. I’d call that a serious endorsement for trying the walleye.

Appetizers average around $9. Soups and salads average around $5 including the house salad and the house soup. The 14oz. house steak is LJ’s Marinade Steak for $18.95. Steak prices range up from there to a 14oz. Filet Mignon or 18oz. Porterhouse for $29.95. They also offer chicken, pork and seafood entrees of under $20. And then there’s the Red Oak specialty: the Chef’s Wild Game feature of the week. Price varies with market.

Red Oak also has a large, reasonably priced wine list. The bar contains only premium pours including a bottle of Louis the XIII cognac that costs $450 a bottle! Red Oak is open Monday thru Saturday at 4pm. Happy Hour is 4pm to 6pm. They are a smoke-free restaurant. For more information call 651-294-0007.

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