Doe’s Eat Place

No lunch for you: Doe’s is open for dinner only, Monday through Saturday from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Kid-friendly? Yes.

The vibe: Casual. Jeans and T-shirts fit right in. But there’s no outdoor seating.

Tamales to go: You can call ahead and order tamales to go.

3723 Government St.

387-5331

All credit cards

Reservations accepted.

It may be an odd combination, but steaks and tamales are what Doe’s Eat Place has built a cult following upon. The devotion spans multiple generations.

Doe’s Eat Place is a franchise, and in September it arrived in Baton Rouge. Business partners Scott Overby and Chad Fortenberry opened in the former Mid City home of Chicago’s Steakhouse. There are other Doe’s locations in Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The menu varies from location to location, but Overby and Fortenberry wanted to keep their franchise simple. Like all Doe’s menus, theirs is built on steak and potatoes, and their famous tamales, the same ones that first catapulted Doe’s from a Greenville, Miss., grocery store to a landmark restaurant. Rounding out the menu is a handful of regional favorites, like fried shrimp or gumbo.

Doe’s cuts its steaks fresh daily from whole loins aged 21 days, which brings out the meat’s flavor. They’re served anywhere from bloody to as well-done as you like, and come with a side of Doe’s marinated salad, Southern-style drop biscuits and either boiled potatoes or fresh-cut fries.

With its casual atmosphere and friendly service, Doe’s offers the rare combination of great steaks and family dining.

Doe’s milestones

1903 Signa family moves to Greenville, Miss., opens a grocery, Papa’s Store.

1927 Great Mississippi River Flood pushes Dominick “Big Doe” Signa into bootlegging.

1941 Big Doe sells still, converts to a honky-tonk serving Greenville’s black population. Wife Mamie Signa begins perfecting tamales. Word spreads of steaks and tamales. The Signas shut down the honky-tonk and convert to a full-time restaurant.

1974 Big Doe retires. Sons Charles and “Little Doe” Jr. take over the original, later add locations in Oxford, Miss., and Paducah, Ky.

1998 Doe’s begins to franchise. Today there are Doe’s in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Louisiana—one in Baton Rouge, another in Broussard.

2007 Food Network’s Alton Brown features Doe’s in his travel series, Feasting on Asphalt.

2007 Doe’s earns prestigious James Beard Foundation award for excellence

and achievement.

THE REVIEWS

The Seafood Lover

Give me fish over a hunk of meat any day.

I recommend:

Doe’s delta hot tamales ($8.50/$15). Served with a cup of Doe’s homemade chili, these tender, all-beef tamales are packed with flavor and the right amount of spice.

The shrimp half & half ($19). A bit steep in price for a dozen shrimp, the half & half (half broiled, half fried) offered a nice departure from the beefy menu. The shrimp were big and meaty, and the garlic butter for the broiled shrimp was perfect for dunking the homemade biscuits.

Southern-style drop biscuits (comes with the meal). These puppies come standard with every entrée and are like little pillows of fried dough. I had to practice restraint to avoid eating the whole basket.

I’d avoid:

Doe’s marinated salad. Standard with every entrée, it lacks serious flavor and substance, and I’d avoid it unless you crave those light, church fundraiser plate-lunch salads, or you’re simply leaving room for a big Doe’s slab-o-beef.

New potatoes. Not bad, but given the choice, opt for the fresh-cut fries instead. You can thank me later.

The bottom line

Your choices are limited unless you have a hankering for red meat.

The Southern Cooking Loyalist

I dream of Grandmother’s roast, rice and gravy.

I recommend:

Homemade french fries (they come with the meal). Sorry, Capital City Grill, and forgive me, Chimes. There’s a new fry in town that’s homemade, cut fresh and fried in vegetable oil. They’re just like the ones I make in my kitchen.

Prime rib (price varies). Have this succulent cut cooked medium for a tender, pink center, and it’s delicate enough to swallow a small bite without chewing. A delight, although I wish Doe’s adjusted the seasoning for Southerners’ palates to distinguish itself from the bland beef big chains serve.

The service. Our sweet and attentive waitress kept us happy, but sometimes interrupted our conversations mid-sentence to see if we were OK.

I’d avoid:

Crab and corn bisque ($6). Too thin, and it lacked real flavor. Fries are usually the only dish I salt at a restaurant, but this bisque needed some back-up, not to mention a little more crab.

The bottom line

Its down-home atmosphere and exceptional service make it an effortless spot for dinner with friends and family. And the mouthwatering french fries make it worth going at least once.

The Meat & Potatoes Guy

Raised on a ranch—don’t try to fool me with a cheap slab of beef.

I recommend:

The Porterhouse ($22/pound). The Holy Grail. Properly aged, cut fresh daily, skillfully cooked to your order, juicy, tender—and huge! Cut from the middle of the loin, the porterhouse contains a “T” bone separating the toothsome strip from the succulent filet. There’s easily enough meat here for two people to share.

Fresh-cut fries. What is it with fries? Such a ridiculously simple concept, yet everyone tries to do something different with them—usually to very little effect. This is an exception, with a kind of long, home-style cut to the perfect thickness and perfectly cooked. Already my favorite fries in Baton Rouge.

The service. Warm, friendly and attentive, from the hosts at the door to the server at your table.

I’d avoid:

Doe’s marinated salad. A fancy name for a bowl of lettuce with some dressing on it.

Crab and corn bisque. Loaded with crabmeat, but not competitive in a town that has superb soups being served on every other street corner.

The bottom line

A pricey night out for checkered tablecloths and french fries, but worth it if you want a good steak served with a superb glass of cabernet.

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