Find it: 118 Elm St., Montour (just 7 miles southwest from the Meskwaki casino near Tama); (641) 492-6222; www.rubesmeat.com
Hours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sunday: seasonal or by reservation.
Atmosphere: Rube’s, Iowa’s original grill-your-own steakhouse, is darkly-lit with wood floors and mahogany walls. In the bar, there are several televisions as well as dart boards. The dining room has three grilling areas where customers stand side-by-side and grill their own meat and vegetables which they picked out from the meat counter. “That’s part of the draw — the social atmosphere,” says manager Deann Savage. “You may not have known anybody when you walked up there (to the grill), but you usually make friends by the time you’re done.”
On the menu: Start off with a selection from Rube’s extensive drink list, including Long Island Iced Tea, margaritas, domestic or imported beers and wines. Appetizers include onion rings, fried mushrooms, mozzarella sticks and chicken strips. Among the selections available at the meat counter are 12- or 20-ounce rib-eye, 26-ounce T-bone, top sirloin, New York strip, 32-ounce smoked ham steak, 20-ounce Iowa cut smoked pork chop, chicken breast, shrimp and ahi tuna steak. Sides include mushrooms, shrimp, mixed vegetables, asparagus and Bleu cheese crumbles. All meals come with a salad bar, Texas toast and either baked or skillet potatoes. The kids’ menu includes top sirloin, chicken breast, hot dog, corn dog basket and chicken strip basket. The dessert menu includes cheesecake, caramel apple pie, chocolate torte and ice cream. “You will not go away hungry,” Savage says.
Prices: Appetizers range from $3.50 for fries to $11.75 for the Rube’s Piggy Platter which includes onion rings, fries, fried mushrooms, mozzarella sticks and Buffalo wings. Those can be ordered separately for $5.50 to $8.75. Meat for grilling ranges from $13 for an 8-ounce marinated chicken breast to $41.50 for a 54-ounce top sirloin.
Takeout: Rube’s Meat Company, across the street from the restaurant, provides all the meat for the steakhouse. Meat can be purchased on-site or through the Web site, www.rubesmeat.com “Our meat is a fresh as you’re going to get,” Savage says. “Our steaks have never been frozen.”
Chef recommends: Savage says the 16-ounce bacon-wrapped rib-eye is Rube’s’ most popular cut of meat. “You don’t get that very often at a restaurant,” she says. “It’s fresh because it comes from right across the street.”
Forkcast extra: Glen “Rube” Rubenbauer opened Rube’s as a tavern in 1972. He began to serve steaks and then, after a friend’s suggestion, let customers grill their own. At least one or two customers a week polish off the 54-ounce “Belly Buster” top sirloin, Savage says. For their efforts, they receive an “I Ate A Cow” T-shirt and their picture is placed on the wall of fame near the salad bar.
— Compiled by Angela Holmes, The Gazette