When a steakhouse throws down the gauntlet with a slogan of "You Can't Beat Our Meat", you know it some place that has plenty of confidence in their dining experience. The particular steakhouse in this case is Bogie's Steakhouse, a more than three decades old establishment in Albia, the county seat of Monroe County in south central Iowa.
Iowa Adventurer recently made the trip to Albia on a Saturday evening for the sole purpose of dining at Bogie's. A friend was celebrating a birthday and received a recommendation to go to Bogie's from her colleague at work. It turns out that was a very good recommendation.
Rolling up to the restaurant, which is near the intersection of Highways 5 and 34 on the south edge of town, you find that it's actually a relatively unassuming place. There's a large sign in the parking lot and the building, though decent in size, is pretty modest. There's a few windows in the front but generally, there's nothing overly flashy about it.
However, what you do notice, is that there are cars everywhere. It's so popular, that cars were filling up the vacant lot across the street.
We parked near a faded sign that let us know that we were indeed in the overflow lot.
The place is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. You'll strike out if you show up on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays or try to enjoy lunch there any day of the week.
Indeed, all of those cars meant that there were a lot of people inside.
The menu is not overly complicated. I can always appreciate a place that keeps things simple but executes at a high level on those core dishes.
Steaks, chops, and prime rib are are the stars of the menu, as you would expect at a steakhouse. However, they do have pork loin, fish, ham steak, and chicken. All of the entrees include a pass through their salad bar, a baked potato (or fried potatoes, which I didn't try, but looked amazing), and Texas Toast.
However, if you want something a little less daunting, you can enjoy a sandwich or a steak burger.
There are also alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available as well as a children's menu.
All of the entrees are cooked on a large grill in the corner of the dining room. Unlike another famous Iowa steakhouse (Rube's of Montour) where you grill your own steak on large grills in the middle of the dining rooms, the employees at Bogie's do cook for you.
Of course, I was not going to go to a steakhouse without trying a steak...especially not a steakhouse who claims that their meat cannot be beat. I ordered the sirloin steak and there is no variation in size of the cut. All of the meat, cut and ready, is located in a large refrigerator that is just a few steps from the grill and is visible to the public. As they get orders, they just pull another steak off the pile and add it to the grill.
While my steak was cooking, my friend and I took our one trip through their salad bar since we had ordered an entrée. The salad bar is not enormous in scope, but they offer the basics. Again, like the broader menu, it's not a huge offering of choices but they do well with what they have.
I enjoyed a modest lettuce salad and a little bit of potato salad. All of it was very good.
Not long after finishing my salad, our entrees arrived. It was prompt. My eyes just about popped out of my head when this was plopped down in front of me.
My sirloin steak was literally almost the size of my plate. I had it cooked to "medium" and the piece of thick Texas Toast and baked potato (with butter) barely could find space on the platter.
The steak was very flavorful, nicely seasoned, and appropriately cooked. Obviously, sirloin is not as tender as other options but I found it to be more than adequate. Normally, I abide by what I was taught growing up: always clean your plate. However, I decided not to overdue it and made the wise decision to bring some of it home with me.
What about the vibe of the place? The artwork and decor on the walls definitely combine a strong appreciation for the military with plenty of homages to Harley Davidson, agriculture, and the rural way of life.
There's also a wall full of pictures, presumably of family and employees.
On the way out, you pay your bill at the host-stand near the door. The co-owner, Toni Walter (she owns the business with her husband Kevin), was working the register. She was very appreciative of my friend and me coming in as first-time patrons.
Bogie, the namesake for the business, was the family bulldog when the restaurant opened in 1990. According to Toni, his picture on the menu and elsewhere was drawn by a local artist. Bogie has long since passed away but the the restaurant continues to keep building their fan club and like me...walked out the door with a "doggie bag" of food good for at least one or more good meals. I don't know if there is anyone that can actually beat their meat, but I'd encourage you to make the trip to Albia to give them a chance at proving it.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Monroe County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.