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is it vlado's?
By Dennis Batchelder 29 June 2000

hi guys:

for the last nine months, i've been suffering from a heavy load. it's been bothering me for a while; sometimes weighing me down. but now the burden is gone, because tonight, i've been to vlado's, and i've been enlightened.

you see, i've seen eugene (he's in charge of ca's glenn iris office in melbourne) several times in the last nine months. i've eaten a few meals
with him - both sushi and steak - in steakhouses and japanese restaurants in new york, new orleans, and australia. we've been to some pretty good places, and eaten some pretty good steaks. but every place we go, and during every steak we eat, eugene invariably says "it's good, but it's not as good as vlado's".

this is the burden i'm living under. whenever eugene does this, he strangles the conversation. every steak ends up being compared to this
place that only he has been to. it's a bit frustrating - especially when you're enjoying one of the best steaks you've ever had (and i've had a lot of them), only to hear that there's better stuff out there. but i usually laugh it off; in fact recently this has become a running joke between eugene and a bunch of us - whenever something is really good, we say, "yeah - but it's not as good as vlado's".

anyway, tonight eugene, trevor and i went to vlado's. on the way over, eugene told me the history of the restaurant: vlado is an old croatian who started the small restaurant in melbourne 36 years ago. apparently, vlado takes his meat pretty seriously. in order to get the perfect steak, he raised his own cattle. in the 70's, he switched to argentinian beef, because he found a ranch there where the quality was even better than his own cattle. and starting 10 years ago, he found a local australian cattle ranch that supplies him good beef. well, it supplies him more than the beef: he buys the whole animal. vlado goes to the ranch and hand-picks the cattle that he wants. i can picture him walking through the fields as australia's grim reaper of cattle, choosing the victims that will grace the tables of his restaurant.

the menu at vlado's is pretty short: salad, appetizer, two choices of steak, and two choices of dessert. that's it. the waiter brought out the salad and the appetizer: a few slices of sliced filet mignon, plus some other choice cuts of meat.

eugene's big like me, so i know he appreciates his food. i watched him closely as he took the first bite. eugene is very interesting to watch: he tucks his napkin into his collar, rolls up his sleeves, and grabs the knife and fork. then he cuts a small piece, puts a dab of horseradish on it, and raises it to his mouth. he closes his eyes and places it on his tongue, chewing softly. now he starts to beam, and breaks out into an expression of pure ecstacy. he swallows, opens his eyes, sits absolutely still for a few seconds, sighs, then repeats the process.

i decided that i should follow eugene's example, and eat exactly as he did. if he found something that works, i might as well try it too. so i tucked my napkin around my neck and rolled up my sleeves. our timing was about the same: we each would cut, raise, close, chew, smile, open, pause, sigh repeat. again and again - first through the appetizer, then through the main course.

the three of us ate silently - all you could hear was the clinking of the forks and knives on the plates. nobody spoke a word from the first bite until the plates were clean.

as eugene and i finished our last mouthful, he opened his eyes, and stared at me. he was content. i've never seen him so peaceful. he asked me what i thought of my steaks. as if he couldn't tell by my own expression.

what was i to say? trying to describe the quality was impossible. the meat was absolutely incredible. unbelievable. ah who eat till no (that's
encrypted russian). you couldn't rate it - it was so far off the end of the scale that to try to put words around it would demean both the taste and the entire experience.

so i said, "my steak was as good as vlado's".

eugene got it. and so did i.



is it vlado's? - australia