RE: Steakhouse in Massachussets in the 70's?
I remember Le Le Biftheque form the late 70's/early 80's, but through I not-infrequently drive past the one off I-93/95 in Braintree, I frequented the one on I-93 in Andover (about 20 north of Boston). I recall it specifically from that period because they took out a full page 4-color advertisement on the back page of the Globe's Sunday Comics, just about every week, advertising Prime Ribs (possibly "all you can eat", IIRC) for some ridiculously affordable prize like $9.99, which had a real appeal to the skinny bottomless pit teenager I was at the time. The prime rib wasn't exactly great, but it was indeed identifiable as genuine prime rib, prepared in a reasonable fashion, with a fair facsimile of horseradish cream. unlike some things that have been billed as prime rib by various chains (Anyone remember Denny's "Prime Rib Fridays?" -- my kids were very small when that promo was out, and they (and I) liked it well enough for what it was, but I always felt bad that they had never experienced Le Biftheque at its -er- prime.)
I must admit however, that I ate at a few Le Biftheques in Canada (one just north of Montreal springs to mind), and as excited as I was to "sup at the source", it wasn't even as good as the one in Andover. In fact, unlike the Andover Le Biftheque, the Montreal one could have passed for a Hilltop [Saugus] franchise. I *believe* that the original Le Biftheque came first, but there was clearly some deliberate imitating going on. Sadly, at the time of that visit, Hilltop itself was having a real decline in standards, and The Montreal Le Biftheque seemed to be mirroring that as well (e.g. ridiculously overly tenderized)
It's sad how steak chains seem to inevitably decline. When I was a kid, one could get a fair steak at Bonanza/Ponderosa or York Steakhouse, I remember them slipping a bit before my life changed (and all the local ones closed) It was 20 years before I vistited one again, but though I still visit one rarely out of nostalgia, it's hard to call what they serve now "steak". It's more some sort of processed meat product. [Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the Ponderosa food experience in its own way. It's just not steak.]
I have absolutely no intention of being harsh here. If I come across as anything but affectionate, blame it on ribeye intoxication. I hadn't been grilling this year (it's been an unseasonable summer), but a few weeks ago I made the best damn steaks I've had in years (if not "ever") and the ones I made tonight made the last batch look like mud!
Maybe it was just a fluke (I'm a darn good home chef, but erratic on steaks), but that heavenly 2-in ribeye is what sent me prowling the internet, and eventually brought me here