As you enter George + Violet’s Steakhouse, you’re greeted by a framed quote attributed to Charles Bukowski. “The steak was not just a slice of some poor murdered thing,” it reads. “It was something dramatic that fed the body and the soul and the heart.”
“We knew we wanted to open a very classic, straightforward American restaurant,” says George + Violet’s co-owner and general manager, Ross Arce. “We wanted to open something a little more familiar — why not a steakhouse?”
George + Violet’s is located in the historic Fry & Rankin building on Main Street in Springfield, centered nicely in the city’s resurgent downtown restaurant scene.
Arce has partnered in the business with Katie Francisco and her husband Chef Andrew Francisco. Chef Francisco attended the Culinary Institute of America and trained under Thomas Keller.
“We shared a very similar dream,” Arce explains, adding that the business partners looked around at all the wonderful produce and grass-fed beef the Northwest has to offer, and wondered, “Why isn’t anyone doing a steakhouse?”
I’m served a 12-ounce ribeye, a baked potato and a grilled albacore tuna appetizer, prepared with green tea, barley oil and shiso, an annual herb with a bright, citrusy flavor. For dessert, I go with a fig leaf Anglaise with hazelnut milk and a blackberry granita.
It’s all heavenly — the albacore tuna appetizer a symphony of Asian inspired simplicity and the blackberry granita an icy delight.
The ribeye is perfectly fatty, medium-rare and cooked to perfection. Along with the steak comes a choice of two butters: blue cheese, hazelnut miso butter or Dungeness crab butter.
The butter pairings bring out fascinating dimensions in the beef, so when the scandalous red meat juices mix in your mouth with the blue cheese butter, your eyes roll back in your head just a bit.
“We lay our menu out in a very simple, easy classic way,” Arce says. “We let the food really speak for itself. But then you get it and you realize there’s so much more going on.”
He’s right. While there’s plenty of inventiveness at George + Violet’s — a garden salad with nasturtiums, bachelor button mushrooms and a shiso vinaigrette, for example — there’s nothing fussy or overwrought in the experience.
The restaurant is located in the former Jim’s Landing, described by Arce as a tough logger bar. George + Violet’s upgraded the windowless interior to a dimly lit, fine dining-lite take on Northwest casual, but ghosts of the old Jim’s Landing still hang intriguingly in the air.
“We want to be welcoming to everyone,” Arce says. He explains that his restaurant is appropriate for special occasions, but also a burger and beer after work.
As you leave George + Violet’s, with the taste of blood still on your tongue, you finish reading Bukowski’s quote: “At that moment, death didn’t matter.”
And at that moment, it was true.
George + Violet’s Steakhouse is open 5 to 10 pm Tuesday to Thursday, 5 pm to midnight Friday and Saturday and 5 pm to 9 pm Sunday at 305 Main Street in Springfield. For more information see georgeviolets.com.