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Ben and Mary's Steakhouse


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Ben & Mary's Steakhouse

Rt. 17, southbound side, 1.5 mi north of RT 211intersection/downtown Warrenton, VA

540-347-4100

Home of the "Fabulous Filet Mignon"

It's not always all about the food. Take Ben and Mary's Steakhouse, on U.S. 17 just north of the godawful sprawl that has overwhelmed whatever charm Warrenton probably had before it became bedroom community for commuters working downtown or in the Dulles High Tech corridor. Ben & Mary's reminds you that Warrenton is indeed out there at the edge of Horse Country; a civilized but friendly place where they set iced tea spoons on the table along with your knife and fork and, while the desserts aren't usually homemade, every now and again the waitress brings in a cake she's made, and if you're lucky there might be a slice or two left when you get there (we weren't, alas). Ben and Mary have gone to the great steakhouse in the sky, but their oil portraits hang behind the hostess stand and the new owners have kept it a family operation. And, while I don't know about the rest of the staff, our waitress had been their 29 years.

Ben & Mary's feels a lot like a place your grandparents might have taken you for a "nice" dinner any time between 1950 and whenever the chains drove family restaurants out of business. No decor to speak of and paper placemats on Formica wood-grain tables. But the steaks are pretty good: they're cooked right and -- at $12-25 with two sides -- they're priced right, too. We had the strip and the porterhouse and devoured both. It's possible that the highlight, or least the big surprise, was the boiled shrimp. From the back of my father-in-law's Pensacola condominium, you can see the shrimp boats delivering fresh to the legendary Joe Patti's Seafood,, my wife grew up on shrimp that had been in the Gulf 24 hours before she ate it. So, when she took a bite and said "wow," I new we were in for some serious stuff. Just delicious.

Sandwiches are available and, as you might expect from a place that sets out iced tea spoons -- a lot of the menu veers towards southern-style cooking; I plan to sample the fried chicken on the next visit. And the service couldn't have been friendlier, from the waitress who made us feel like long-time regulars to the guy who seemed positively delighted to wipe the table down for us before we were seated. It was a pleasantly diverse crowd, speaking softly in southern accents and enjoying Sunday dinner with their families, still dressed from church or maybe just dressed up a little bit for Ben & Mary's because its the kind of place where you want to look proper and mind your manners. I was hoping for a glimpse of The Gentry -- that part of Virginia does Gentry very well -- but no luck. :wink:

This isn't Ray's the Steaks or the Prime Rib, and the wine you get comes from a jug, but at prices comparable to an Outback, it's a great spot for the family. And it is always a delight to be someplace that really is someplace, rather than being a mass-produced economic device or an attitude-charged attempt at contemporary culinary design. We're looking forward to going back.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You gotta be kidding?!?!? That has to be the worst restaurant I have ever eaten in. Yeah it has that 30 year ago kitsch, that only goes so far. The 2 sides thing kills me. When we were there last summer, I asked about the sides that were available, and the waitress said and I'm not making this up, "whatever you want , we got just about every canned vegetable there is". We would drive by and say we should stop and eat, well one day we did and it was lousy. Overcooked steak, a baked potato that probably was edible during the Truman administration, and those delicious "two sides". My wife had the fried chicken that you alluded to and Banquet serves a better one. Kitschy is one thing, bad is another. Ben and Mary's, while once was probably a fine place to eat, simply is not anymore.

Edited by Busboy (log)

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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You gotta be kidding?!?!?  That has to be the worst restaurant I have ever eaten in.  Yeah it has that 30 year ago kitsch, that only goes so far.  The 2 sides thing kills me.  When we were there last summer, I asked about the sides that were available, and the waitress said and I'm not making this up, "whatever you want , we got just about every canned vegetable there is".  We would drive by and say we should stop and eat, well one day we did and it was lousy.  Overcooked steak, a baked potato that probably was edible during the Truman administration, and those delicious "two sides".  My wife had the fried chicken that you alluded to and Banquet serves a better one.  Kitschy is one thing, bad is another.  Ben and Mary's, while once was probably a fine place to eat, simply is not anymore.

I'm on the record as being pretty immune to the charms of charming little Kountry Korner places, and went into Ben & Mary's with the danger goggles in place. We simply has a very different meal than you, evidently -- steaks properly cooked, no kitsch, and canned green beans successfully avoided. As I said, not a "fine dining" experience but, in our experience, a fine place to dine after a day in the country.

Oh, and by my math, the potato couldn't have been as bad as you said -- they've only been open since the Eisenhower administration. :wink:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You gotta be kidding?!?!?  That has to be the worst restaurant I have ever eaten in.  Yeah it has that 30 year ago kitsch, that only goes so far.  The 2 sides thing kills me.  When we were there last summer, I asked about the sides that were available, and the waitress said and I'm not making this up, "whatever you want , we got just about every canned vegetable there is".  We would drive by and say we should stop and eat, well one day we did and it was lousy.  Overcooked steak, a baked potato that probably was edible during the Truman administration, and those delicious "two sides".  My wife had the fried chicken that you alluded to and Banquet serves a better one.  Kitschy is one thing, bad is another.  Ben and Mary's, while once was probably a fine place to eat, simply is not anymore.

I'm on the record as being pretty immune to the charms of charming little Kountry Korner places, and went into Ben & Mary's with the danger goggles in place. We simply has a very different meal than you, evidently -- steaks properly cooked, no kitsch, and canned green beans successfully avoided. As I said, not a "fine dining" experience but, in our experience, a fine place to dine after a day in the country.

Oh, and by my math, the potato couldn't have been as bad as you said -- they've only been open since the Eisenhower administration. :wink:

Oh but it was... The flesh of the potato was the same color as the skin. It reminded me of the chinese eggs that are buried in ash and lye. It was less than savory.

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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I am sorry to say, Busboy, that I have to disagree with you.

I had a client that liked that place and I have had too many meals there. It's grimy and icky and the vegetables have been entombed in cans so long they don't lose the crimp marks, like Aunt Mabel's cranberry jelly at Thanksgiving.

I am right behind you most of the way (I read your posts because you're local and know way more than me) but hey buddy...in Warrenton, go to Outback.

Actually, for cheap and tasty, go to Tippy's.

With respect, dude... :smile:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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