When I first moved to Tallahassee, I asked around at work to see if there was a good steakhouse in town. Now, you must keep in mind that this was B.S. (Before Shula's). Someone mentioned Marie Livingston's, so hubby and I decided to check it out. I can't say I was really impressed by our visit. The location was very out of the way - off Monroe, past the Tallahassee Mall, past the I-10 overpass and tucked away as part of a hotel (it had no visibility from the street). We had to turn around a few times before we finally found it. All I can really remember about that first visit was that the inside seemed pretty old, dirty and tired. We were seated upstairs in the loft area - I remember going up some wooden steps - and that the steak was no better than I could have made myself at home. There was no seasoning on it, no sauce and no flavor. There was really no reason for us to go back.
Posted by Tally Foodie Sunday, June 20, 2010
Then I saw that Marie Livingston's was building a new location off of Apalachee Parkway, a location that actually looked like it had a bit of class to it. So when I heard that it had finally opened, I asked a friend to join me there for dinner and see if there had been any major improvements.
I'm happy to announce that the new Marie Livingston's is definitely IMPROVED. You notice it the first moment you walk in the door. The interior boasts a modern color scheme of taupe, black and white with damask print curtains, stylish hanging lights and comfortably cushioned chairs and booths. There are 2 separate dining rooms, one to the left and one to the far right with a bar area in between. It's upscale enough to dress up for a date, but casual enough to meet a friend for drinks after work. Essentially, it's the best of both worlds.
The service is pretty good, too. We were greeted promptly and asked for our drink order. He returned with those quickly and then asked for our dinner order. The only beef (no pun intended) I have with the service is that once your original server gets your order, you don't see them again until almost the end of your meal. Other servers come out to bring your salads, entrees, even refill your drinks. We didn't see our original server again until we had already taken a few bites of our main entree and then he came over to ask how everything was. So while everyone was attentive, you're never really sure who to ask when you need something.
Since Marie Livingston's is billed as a steakhouse, it's pretty preposterous to try anything other than the steak. So, my friend and I both ordered the 7 oz Filet. At $19.99, you get a lot for your money. Your meal comes with bread, a salad and your choice of potato. For those with bigger appetites, you can get a 9 oz Filet with all of the same accoutrements for just $21.99! At half the price of a Shula's steak and with more extras (at Shula's sides and salads are an additional cost), you definitely get more bang for your buck. Now, we just had to see if they tasted any good. But, first things first, let's start at the beginning...with the bread.
I love it when restaurants put more thought and effort into the bread they serve rather than just put out a couple of slices of thick, crusty white bread. The bread you get at Marie Livingston's is not really even bread at all, but hot, doughy rolls. They felt like they were fresh out of the oven! And they're served with a side of honey butter that one of the servers told me is homemade. Ugh, it was delish! I kept re-buttering my roll after every bite. Even though I knew it was totally going to my hips. I just didn't care - that's how good it was.
Next, our salads. Nothing fancy going on here - just some lettuce, tomatoes and croutons. But all the ingredients were fresh - there was no brown or wilting lettuce and the croutons actually tasted homemade as well. I ordered mine with honey mustard dressing and it was sweet and tangy, just how I like it. The size of the salad was what I like to call a classic "side" portion, which I also liked. Enough to whet your whistle, but not so much that you're full before your entree arrives.
Now, let's talk about those entrees, shall we? The steaks were absolutely savory. A better cut of meat than you'd find at Outback or Longhorn, but not quite as superior as Shula's. It definitely holds it's own, though. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a better steak at that price anywhere else in town. They were both cooked exactly as we had specified and came with Marie Livingston's "special sauce." A bit smoky, a bit tangy with a taste similar to A1, but less thick and better tasting. When I asked our server what it was made of, he confessed he wasn't privy to the recipe but he suspected it was a mixture of Worchestershire sauce and soy sauce and probably something else. After tasting it again, I had to agree. You can definitely taste the Worchestershire, which was the likely culprit for the smokiness. Whatever it was, I mopped it all up with every last bite of my steak. As far as our sides go, I ordered the sweet potato that came with cinnamon butter, and my friend ordered a regular baked potato that came with two heaping helpings of butter. They were the perfect compliment to a hearty hunk of steak.
I left Marie Livingston's that night with a full belly and a happy heart, genuinely pleased that a Tallahassee tradition had managed to give itself a face lift and end up looking like Demi Moore instead of Joan Rivers!
Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A
Presentation - B
Service - A
Price - $$
2705 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee FL 32301