I just recently did a stint in Marshalltown, IA – home of my employer’s “mother ship” operations offices.  There isn’t really anything much to do in Marshalltown and more importantly, there isn’t anything much to eat either.  Except, that is, for Rube’s.  Rube’s Steakhouse turned out to offer one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had.

I wasn’t really even looking forward to going.  At Rube’s, you select and grill your own steak.  To this I was thinking that I do enough cooking at home and really didn’t like the thought of paying for something I had to cook.  I had it all wrong.  As their website points out, Rube’s is not just a steakhouse – it’s an experience.  And it was the experience (and wicked top quality steaks) that sold me.

After choosing the freshest, most beautiful 2-inch thick, perfectly marbled, velvety red ribeye I’d ever laid eyes on from the plethora of selections (all cuts of meat, fresh vegetables already skewered and ready for the grill, shrimp kabobs, stuffed mushrooms in the cutest stinking miniature cast iron skillets, etc.), I proceeded to one of the large grilling stations.  I was so coming around to this concept!

Grilling like Rock Stars at Rube’s

My only fear was that I was going to screw up cooking the steak.  I’d never cooked a 2-inch thick ribeye before.  Going into a Karate Kid battle royale Zen-like state, I thought about the basics.  I seasoned the steak simply, using salt, pepper and garlic only.  Using one of the many sets of tongs stationed for us, I placed my steak right in what I hoped was the hottest part of the grill.  Going for the “hot and fast” method I use for beef, I figured I’d sear it good on both sides and plate it.  I went with five minutes on each side and had no idea what I was in for since I refused to risk the integrity of the steak by cutting into it to check my progress.  Deciding to let it have a proper rest, I visited the bar, the ladies room and then the salad bar and made my way back to the table after about ten minutes.

Silently chanting to myself, “please don’t let me have screwed this up, please don’t let me have screwed this up, please don’t let me have screwed this up…” I cut the first bite and took a peek.  It. Was. Perfect.  The meat was a beautiful scarlet red in the center and so incredibly tender and flavorful.  Grateful as I was for not screwing it up, the credit was totally due to the quality of the meat.  (learn all about Rube’s and order steaks on their website)

Aside from phenomenal food, the set-up at Rube’s was truly perfect for the size group I was in.  Rather than seating 30-40 people in a restaurant wherein you’re limited socially to those seated immediately near you, we were all up and about, checking on each other’s selections and progress and of course, the full bar didn’t hurt.

So, if you’re ever in Marshalltown, Iowa (shyeeeeah, OK, that might be a stretch for most of us), be sure to check out Rube’s!  If your travels don’t take you to the heart of corn country, consider ordering farm fresh meats at their website!

BONE appetite!

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy lives in Lexington, South Carolina, is a contributing writer for the Food & Drink section and is currently working on her first cookbook. Mandy is an award winning recipe writer and judges regional cook-offs and other culinary contests.

“I'm just a gal that likes food. Of course I like to eat, but what I've discovered about myself over the years is that there are more ways for me to enjoy food than just eating it. I like to shop for it, read about it, cook it, entertain with it and write about it. And when it's really good, sometimes I'm tempted to throw it on the floor and roll in it."