Legendary NFL coach Don Shula is living every man's dream, but not for the reasons you might expect. Nevermind his Super Bowl ring or the undefeated season, what makes Coach Shula a hero has nothing to do with football, and everything to do with the other way to a man's heart...his stomach. The former Dolphins coach has his own steak - the Shula's Cut - a concept which boggles the minds of us in the Y chromosome bunch. While visiting the Hotel Duval in Tallahassee, we had the opportunity to slice into some of the Coach's finest, at the Shula's 347 Grill.
The concept behind 347 is a more casual version of the original Shula's Steakhouse. The idea pairs the same high quality menu, and of course the Shula's Cut steak, with an atmosphere geared to those that prefer to dine while watching the big game. Although most of the 347 outlets have a look and feel along the lines of an upscale "man cave," the Tallahassee version is a little more independent in its design. There are still plenty of deep wood accents and sports memorabilia from the boss's career, but the overall feel is more sleek and contemporary than the brand's other locations.
|A private dining room|
As you enter the restaurant, take special care not to topple down a small flight of stairs en route to the table. Inevitably, your eyes will be drawn to the ceiling, where 5000 hanging wine bottles create a cascading path through the dining room. This is easily one of the most unique things I've seen in a restaurant, especially when you consider that each bottle was set in place by hand. If you think that's impressive, imagine getting 3/4 complete only to realize the pattern being followed was backwards, forcing you to start all over. Yeah...that happened.
|The dining room...and the incredible ceiling.|
Just Say No to A' La Carte
A small confession: I'm not a fan of a' la carte steakhouses. While I understand that every alpha male - read: steakhouse target market - wants to be in control of his own side item destiny, there is literally nothing exciting about a slab-o-beef on a plate. I assumed that 347 would follow the same unimaginative route of every other steakhouse, including the original Shula's, but you know what they say about assuming. One of the first things our server explained about the menu was that every Shula's Cut steak comes with not one, but two side items. On the same plate! The concept blew my mind, and it wasn't until our delicious order of crab cakes arrived that I gave up on trying to make sense of it all.
|The crab cakes|
As promised, a few minutes later my Shula's Cut Filet Mignon arrived on the same plate as the mashed potatoes and French fries. My mind had barely recovered from the non-a' la carte shock when it was sent reeling once more. There, next to 8 ounces of perfection, was a small container with heaven inside...Bearnaise. Why all the fuss about a tiny bowl of bearnaise? Easy...I didn't ask for it. It came with the Filet automatically. No silly $4 upcharge, or waiting six minutes to start my steak because I forgot to order it in the beginning. Perhaps the more important question is, why don't more steakhouses give their guests what they want without them asking?
|So I ordered two potatoes...Big whoop?|
I'm sure that MJ got a little tired of listening to me drivel on about the bearnaise, however she had no problem tuning me out thanks to her incredible looking pork chop. Instead, I tried convincing her that one plate was way better than three, but she was too distracted by her meal to care...
|The pork chop|
I have a long standing rule when it comes to dessert in restaurants.... Always order the chocolate mousse. Unfortunately, thanks to crab cakes, filet mignon, bearnaise sauce, and two types of potatoes, I was only able to enjoy a few bites of this light and creamy goodness before throwing in the towel. Of course, the rest of it went back to the room where it came in handy a few hours later.
|Can I have seconds?|
While I'm not a fan of creme brulee, MJ has a similar rule governing these toasted bowls of custard. She's never met a creme brulee she didn't like, and that streak seemed to continue at Shula's 347. At least, that's what I gathered while watching her lick the bowl clean.
|Apparently it was yummy|
Putting aside my personal bias, Shula's 347 truly does put a' la carte steakhouses to shame. Where else can you enjoy a prime cut of beef, while watching the big game on numerous flat screens in what amounts to an upscale "man cave." It's a concept that should have been thought of long ago, but it took the only NFL coach with an undefeated season and his own brand of steak to make it happen. And that, my friends, is why Don Shula is living every man's dream.
Enjoy Your Stay
Special thanks to Shula's 347 for hosting our visit. As always, all opinions, including that of a' la carte steakhouses, are entirely my own.