Regardless of where you go, eating out should always be an “experience.” And though the food is usually the main attraction at most venues, other places become memorable because of a “concept”: a theme that takes priority over everything else and influences the menu, atmosphere, décor and overall feel of a restaurant. Many themed restaurants, in fact, attract diners based solely on the premise of the theme itself (has anyone else ever paid hand-over-fist for a crummy burger at the Hard Rock Café?).

Bigfoot’s Steakhouse in Seaside is a themed restaurant – complete with an imposing, eight-foot yeti guarding the entrance – but diners can rest assured that this is one themed restaurant whose food is the star of the show.

The proprietors of Bigfoot’s, Jack and Janice Reisterer, have left nothing out of this Sasquatch paradise. The atmosphere is more or less a log cabin with thick, hewn log slabs for tables, newspapers for menus (peppered with facts and stories about the infamous giant himself), and more Bigfoot stuff than you can shake a frightened stick at. You have to respect a restaurant that has been open for 15 years and that can commit to a theme so fully … my children would love this place.

On this particular evening we started with the appetizer sampler platter, which included onion rings, deep fried mushrooms, chicken wings, cheesy garlic bread, and “snowshoes” (potato skins with cheese and taco-style ground beef). Our favorites on the platter were most definitely the snowshoes, warm, filling and satisfying, and the chicken wings, which were large, crisp and meaty and served with a perfect hot and spicy sauce on the side. The onion rings were also full of crunch and flavor. I thought the cheesy garlic bread and mushrooms were average, but not exceptional.

A side salad arrived next with house-made blue cheese dressing with large chunks of blue cheese: creamy, tangy, and tasty. Next up was a cup of clam chowder, and herein is my only real quibble with the food we sampled. Though large clams and chunks of potato were plentiful in the cup, the broth itself was much too thick for my liking; I would have preferred a thinner soup base.

A first entrée of a rib-eye steak cooked to “medium” doneness arrived next, served with garlic mashed potatoes and a side of seasoned, steamed vegetables. The steak was perfectly medium (pink throughout but not bleeding), and was incredibly tender and flavorful, hands-down the best steak I have had at a restaurant in some time. The garlic mashed potatoes will appeal to garlic lovers: very garlicky, but delectable. The potatoes were “smashed,” and their more rugged texture fit the character of the accompanying steak (and dare I say, the “theme”). Most surprising were the vegetables, which could easily become an afterthought on a plate, but these were seasoned well, cooked expertly (tender but with a bit of bite), and interestingly, after I sampled a forkful, nestled on a bed of sweet, mashed squash; a toothsome surprise.

A second entrée of beer-battered halibut fish and chips was also noteworthy, a hearty portion of flaky white fish with a lot of crunch. The French fries are thin and extra crispy, and as yet another interesting side, were served along with a broccoli, bacon and raisin salad, rather than the traditional cole slaw. It is obvious to me when reflecting upon both entrées that great care has been taken with every element of both dishes.

As a dessert we chose something “light,” a white cake with fresh strawberries and homemade strawberry puree with whipped cream. The cake consistency was pleasing, somewhere between a shortcake biscuit and actual cake, textured and chewy but also sweet and light. And the strawberries and whipped cream? Well, what’s not to like?

The exceptional meal we enjoyed was only made better by the service. Our server was friendly and charming, and you could tell she really enjoyed serving her customers. Her service was so fast that as I looked at my spent napkin and merely considered that I might need a new one, she was there to deposit some fresh ones on the table.

So to diners who may be put off by the idea of a themed restaurant, I say, put your fears aside (after all, the giant yeti will protect you) and enjoy some of the finest steak the coast has to offer.

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