Steak Quest: Miles Lab’s offering is the first finalist

Steaks from Hunter's Place and Miles Lab are rated.
Posted on Aug. 28, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 30, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.

It’s possible that Dave Cormican has made more steaks than anyone in Elkhart County.

The former owner of Casey’s, a downtown Elkhart restaurant and bar, spent decades in that kitchen. And now that Casey’s is closed, he’s making them for his nephew, Mike Miles, who opened Miles Lab last year in the former Bulldog Restaurant and Lounge, 3763 E. Jackson, Elkhart.

The DeShone family has made tons of steaks at Heinnie’s, but aren’t in the kitchen as much as Cormican has been.

Whether he’s made the most isn’t as important as this: He knows how to make a steak. And he’s pretty good at it.

Miles is buying Allen Brothers prime beef. Cormican or someone else in the kitchen seasons it with his blend and puts it on a flattop grill. Cormican’s cooking Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but the steaks are available anytime.

“We make them just like Dave did downtown,” Miles said of the steaks.

What hit the table was perfectly cooked and seasoned. And though you pay for such a wonderful steak, it’s a dining experience.

It doesn’t need anything other than a knife and fork, though I saw a prominent Elkhartan drag bites through a pile of ketchup. I almost accosted him for the act, but held my tongue.

The result is a steak that’s seared well, seasoned well and cooked as you ordered it.

And in my case, it’s one of the best steaks I’ve had yet.

The rib eye steak was marbled and flavorful. The filet my wife had wasn’t as good as the one she had at 523, where it was a bit more tender. But it was still very good.

The rib eye is 18 to 20 ounces and the price varies depending on the market price but is around $39. The filet is 8 to 10 ounces and is usually around $32, said Miles. The steaks come with a side and soup or salad.

The sauce at 523 Tap & Grill adds flavor to the steak. Miles’ steak doesn’t have the sauce. But it’s mighty good. And it’s the first finalist for the best steak in Elkhart County. (5 out of 5 stars). 523 and Texas Roadhouse may join it as finalists. But for now, Miles Lab is the one I can say is for sure.

At Hunter’s Place, the beef isn’t prime, but the price is a lot lower too. Dan Kaminski tipped me off that it’s a decent steak for the money and I couldn’t say it better myself.

Hunter’s, 2703 S. Main, Elkhart, is a quaint bar with a lot of regulars. The smoke is gone thanks to Elkhart’s smoking ban, but wise sayings from the bar still appear on the sign outside and the menu has a lot of good bar food.

Owner Fran Hunter said she gets her steaks precut from Gordon Food Service. Christian Horner or someone else in the kitchen seasons them and charbroils them.

Horner fixed mine at lunch one day last week and nailed the medium-rare I ordered. A rim of gray at the edges surrounded a center of red and pink.

The New York strip I got had a bit of gristle on the end, but the 12-ounce cut was good. A1 and Heinz 57 were set on the table and I used a bit of both because the steak didn’t have as much seasoning as it could have.

But all in all, it was a good, inexpensive steak, available at lunch or dinner. “I understand a lot of places don’t serve steaks all day long,” Hunter said.

The 12-ounce rib eye or New York strip steaks are $15.95 with a salad or soup, potato and piece of garlic toast. A 16-ounce T-bone goes for the same price. An 8-ounce sirloin is $12.95.

The steak I had was worth three stars out of five.

Steak Quest still includes steaks from Middlebury and Bristol American Legions and at least six more restaurants, including Heinnie’s, Lucchese’s, Calabria, Crimaldi’s, Kelly Jae’s, Dandino’s and Peterson’s. Anywhere else that needs to be on the list? If so, tell me.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Quick Bites

Ÿ Two downtown restaurants, one of which is still operating, are for sale. The former Exchange Bakery/John’s Bagels, 109 W. Lexington Ave., Elkhart, has a sign in its front window indicating it’s for sale or rent. And Crimaldi’s, 117 W. Jackson, Elkhart, was listed in The Truth as being for sale. Owner Mike Crimaldi said he’s keeping the restaurant and bar open, but after 31 years is tired and is putting feelers out there.

Ÿ Kowloon Chinese Restaurant, 1130 W. Bristol, Elkhart, is open where China Star was years ago. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 3 to 9 for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The owners say they have Cantonese, Mandarin, Hunan and Szechwan cuisine, as well as beer and wine. Phone: 226-0940

Ÿ Downtown Elkhart has a new soda store. Pop Culture Soda Store, 124 S. Main St., has more than 100 varieties of soda from around the United States, according to owner Brian Jamison. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

@Tagline:Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at mking@etruth.com, 574-296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/DiningALaKing.

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