Waaay back in December, Ben gave me the option of jewelry or a meal out as a Christmas gift. I choose the food.
He thought he got off easy, boy was he wrong.
To make up for our canceled New Year’s Even dinner and to cash in on my present, we made plans with the same friends to eat at Shapley’s. I had heard from a handful of people that Shapley’s serves the best steaks in town. It’s a big statement to make and a high accolade to live up to, but it’s no lie.
See that steak up there at the top of the post? It’s a memento of one of the most glorious steaks I’ve ever eaten. On to the beef!
Tucked away off of County Line Road, Shapley’s looks like a neighborhood pool or club house from the outside. Friday night we arrived half and hour before our 8 p.m. reservation to enjoy a drink at the bar. By the time our friends showed up and we sat down to eat, Ben and I were ready to steal plates off other tables.
The menu consists of a few appetizers, a small selection of entrees (including fish and chicken), and one whole page of steaks, steak toppings and steak side dishes. There probably is a vegetarian dish on the menu but it might as well have been labeled “carnivores only”. While careful weighing our options and listening to the specials, we tore through the first basket of rolls. The warm yeast rolls were good, but the honey butter made them great.
One of our friends kindly shared his appetizer of fried crawfish tails which had a nice batter with a minimal spicy kick. Practicing self control for what was to come, I helped myself to one piece.
Each entree comes with a salad which was quite ordinary. In fact it was simply mixed greens with a couple pieces of red onion and a tomato wedge. I got the vinaigrette on the side and the dried mint give it a bit of a strange aftertaste. Ben ordered the peppercorn dressing and I kept stealing bites of his salad; it was creamy, salty and delicious.
For the main event I was easily persuaded to a bone-in cowboy ribeye special and Ben ordered a 12 oz. filet Mignon. We split two sides, creamed spinach au gratin and roasted red potatoes. Our ordering skills were on target that night, we hit close to the bullseye.
When our food came, the waiter placed the biggest steak at the table directly in front of me. It was huge. We joked about the infamous 96er scene in The Great Outdoors.
Admittedly my knowledge in meat, and more specifically steaks, is somewhat limited. I like steak cooked until there is no pink left (this was medium well), and am well aware this is a great culinary crime. So it’s somewhat difficult to explain exactly why this particular cut of beef was superior to most of my prior experiences, but suffice it to say, it was. The outside was seared with a thin crust, the inside was as soft as butter, it was tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned with a hint of fresh thyme. I ate part of it cold the next day. It was still incredible.
The side dishes held their own and were fitting accompaniments. The rich spinach mixture had a gold brown layer of cheese on top and the potatoes were satisfyingly crispy. We managed to put good dents in both dishes. Ben was happy with his filet and couldn’t finish it.
However, we weren’t too full to forge on to dessert. And while the Kentucky Derby Pie and Bread Pudding were good, it was the only slight misstep in our order. They weren’t outstanding and definitely benefited from the ice cream on the side (+$3). Next time I would try the Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake or Lemon Icebox Pie.
We indulged in this two hour meal and received excellent service. We never wanted for water, drinks or bread and but it also wasn’t intrusive. The dining room creates an intimate setting due to the high-walled booths, dim light, and well dressed waiters. Between the food and the company, it’s one of the best meals out I’ve had in awhile.
A meal at Shapley’s is not meant to be a frequent occurrence (not in our tax bracket anyhow), but it’s ideal for a special occasion or celebration. Another friend proposed to his wife here, it’s that kind of place. I can’t say we will be back soon (yes, it was that much), but I definitely will be back.
868 Centre Street
Ridgeland, MS 39157