Accidental Restaurant Night

Something rare and wonderful happened about a month ago: both — BOTH — of our daughters were invited to a birthday party, on Saturday night from 6:00-8:00. That’s two hours. On a Saturday night. Which was on Saturday. Which is the day that immediately follows Friday, which is also a good day, but not nearly as good as the one that follows it. Saturday! Can I tell you how much I love whichever kind, compassionate person in the birthday house was responsible for that decision? Because of them, we found ourselves on an early summer night with two full hours to enjoy a grown-up dinner with our friends Todd and Anne. Two hours isn’t enough time to go to a restaurant and be back in time for the kids, maybe, but it’s plenty enough time to cook up something good at home, and eat in peace.

That afternoon, Jenny and I raced around shopping and spent way too much money on two gratuitous steaks, a bunch of fava beans, a baguette, and a big bag of assorted, odd-looking mushrooms. By 5:45, the grill had been lit, and the favas had been peeled, boiled, smashed, and smeared on toasts. Todd and Anne got a babysitter and came over at 6:00 sharp, and we had a drink like adults, without having to shout over The Penguins of Madagascar. We sat outside. We drank good wine. We threw a cast iron skillet on the grill, and cooked the mushrooms with some olive oil, salt, thyme, and garlic. We sliced the baguette and brushed it with olive oil, and grilled it, too. We cooked two beautiful steaks, and drove the dog crazy. We sat down to eat at the kitchen table, and there may have even been candle, napkins (a true rarity in our house), and matching plates involved. I love our kids, I really do, but this? This was nice. The food turned out pretty well, but the entree was the star. Turns out, a couple of thick, marbled steaks, doused with tons of salt and cracked peppercorns, cooked over a hot fire, are absurdly tasty. And easy. And when cooked right, with a slight crunch on the outside — and a juicy, medium rare in the middle — are just about as good as anything you’ll find in a restaurant. So who wants to host the next birthday party? — Andy

Peppery Grilled Porterhouse Steaks

Take 1/4 cup black peppercorns, put on cutting board, and smash with underside of cast-iron skillet, until peppercorns are roughly broken up. Using your hands, smear a generous amount of pepper onto one side of steak. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt (again: don’t hold back). Flip steak, and repeat on the other side. Smear with peppercorns, sprinkle with salt. Use way more pepper than you think. Grill over medium hot fire, making sure to get a good char on the outside, but be careful not to burn, about 3-4 minutes a side. Let sit for ten minutes, cut away from bone, and slice. Arrange on platter and sprinkle with sea salt.

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Not to get all nit-picky but the steaks in the picture don’t look like rib-eyes.


Thank you, Brian, I believe you are correct. So sorry about that. These would, in fact, be porterhouse steaks; I remember it coming down to rib eye v. porterhouse, and we went with the porterhouse. Either one, I imagine, would work well. But thank you for catching that, and we fixed it above.

Lisa S

What? You mean you haven’t tried eating by candle light with cloth napkins with your girls yet? We did it all the time with our two girls when they were little. It’s amazing how their behavior changed when we did it.


I laughed out loud at, “On a Saturday night. Which was on Saturday.” I don’t have kids yet, but I can wholly understand what this must have felt like. A beautiful thing I’m sure. Can you offer advice on how to recreate this in a non-outdoor-grill home? Should I just put the steaks in a cast iron skillet or try to use the double burner grill pan instead? I’m never sure.

Minty Pea Todd

Good Heavens that’s some good looking meat! If you can find it and if you can swing it, buy your steak thick and dry aged. Indoors and no grill, I think you broil it.


I only recently found your website and I.LOVE.IT! Thank you for reminding me that dinner with friends can be easy, impromptu and delicious. No more slaving in the kitchen and sweating over the small details. Have friends over and enjoy the company and food! Thank you for all of your inspiring posts!


How is it that I can relate to this story even though I don’t have kids? Cheers to you for making the most of a Saturday night in summer.


Ah yes – the joys of having a dinner sans kids. My DD (8yo) drools whenever its steak night at our house. Evidently, its my “specialty” so she sets up the table with candles, napkins, matching plates, and even wine glasses (hers filled with the finest grape juice Motts makes). And like Lisa S. mentioned, its amazing how behavior changes – the “please” and “thank yous” come out tenfold.

Thank you Jenny and Andy – as always – for your humor and recipes!!

Camila Faria

Loved this post. I can only image the excitement, since I don’t have kids yet. I’d love to have a grill; my husband is trying to convince me to get one for ages, but I think we don’t have enought space. He’ll go crazy once he sees those steaks.

Doug Sanders

This is great inspiration for a sunny weekday BBQ. You bring up a good point about using more pepper (and salt) than you think you need – you do lose some when grilling. Not only are quality steaks and proper seasoning important, but so is having the right tools (like the knives over at getyourknives) to get that restaurant look. I might try that pepper rub tonight!