It was around noon on Friday when I realized I wanted to eat steak for dinner. The last steak I ate was at the Chop House, and as you’ll recall that steak left me feeling somewhat spoiled. But in a bad way, like in the aged meat sort of way. Like spoiled rotten. With that lingering taste of aged beef still haunting me, I set out to find a new steak, something better, something perhaps less aged. I decided it would be Medusa’s turn at the wheel, and so I invited a friend and we slid into a table for two Friday night at 5:30 sharp.
By now, Medusa shouldn’t need much of an introduction. It is a local favorite, known for turning out grilled food of all convictions, each dish with a recognizable flavor that only Chef Greg can produce. I’m not a regular at Medusa, just as I’m not a regular at any restaurant. I eat most of my meals at home, excepting these review series and a few back-room tacos once in a while. Even though I’m not a local here, my friend very much is, and so I watched throughout the night as he wondered if my painfully truthful review would reflect poorly on him. After all, if he’s the one sitting with the guy who writes the terrible review, he will be guilty by some association, and as such perhaps his table won’t be available next Saturday night and the waiter won’t give him a scoop of ice cream from the unmolested side of the gelato barrel. Sure, I had the price of a meal riding on this evening, but my friend had much, much more at steak (super pun).
We were seated at 5:30, a two top near the front door. This is preferable to the back of the main dining room, as that’s where the bathrooms are and as in airplanes, no seat near the bathroom is worth the discount. Our waters were quickly filled as was my friend’s wine glass. After perusing the menu we decided on the game plan. We would order a filet and a ribeye, splitting each in order to sample two menu staples. We asked to have the compound butter topping left off. For the side we chose the mashed potatoes, and I let go of my dairy-less conviction for the evening. Both steaks were ordered medium, and my friend munched on his salad while I summoned the strength to not eat the bread and butter that were placed dangerously close to my right hand. We ordered at 5:40.
The restaurant filled during our wait as contemporary music pulsed through the dining room: the scene here is much more lively than most of the upper scale local restaurants. By 6:15 it seemed that something might be amiss, as our dinner still had not arrived. At 6:20 the waiter stopped at the table with an explanation. Our ribeye had been burned, which caused the chef to start over, which caused the delay. Understandable, and since Medusa grills over hardwood, and wood fires are more difficult to control than a boring gas fire, the delay didn’t even bother me. At 6:25 our dinners were served.
The char on the steaks met my expectations, though a slice into the filet revealed a very rare center. The waiter noticed and offered to re-fire the filet to bring it to temp. A few minutes later the filet was returned, cooked to medium and very much to our liking. The ribeye was perfectly cooked, and this was the first cut of meat I’ve had on this series that didn’t leave me looking for the salt shaker. It was perfectly seasoned, perfectly charred, perfectly cooked. It was the perfect steak. There was no distraction to this steak. No onions on top or sauce underneath. No demi, no butter. It was just a steak, grilled over wood-fire, pure and unmolested. The filet was fine, the sautéed greens that accompanied the steak also fine, the potatoes fine. But that ribeye was perfection. Everything else is just noise.
This ribeye at Medusa is the steak I’ve been looking for. It wasn’t funky and aged, it wasn’t bland and soft. It was aggressively grilled and aggressively seasoned and it was exactly what a steak should be. But there is a bigger issue here, and that is of Medusa being offered for sale. As a community, we cannot let this restaurant die. This particular chef is the best chef in the area and there isn’t even a second place. This particular steak is the best steak (so far, to be fair) in the area and there isn’t even a second place. If you’re eating out in the Lake Geneva area this spring and summer, head to Medusa. Order the steak. You won’t be disappointed and perhaps your enthusiasm will spill over into the kitchen and to the ownership and we won’t have to contemplate life without Medusa.
Medusa Grill and Bistro
Broad Street, Lake Geneva
$45 for the ribeye, $44.50 for the filet