I try to get to Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster about once a year to, you know, just make sure it’s still one of the best places in town for high quality steaks. It is.
On my most recent visit I was also able to introduce Christner’s to some friends who are new to town. I was able to tell them about the history – now celebrating its 29th year – and about its staying power – there are few independently owned steakhouses of this caliber still in operation, not just here but nationally – most, including Del Frisco’s, which was the original name of Christner’s, are owned by large chains.
But Christner’s is still owned and operated by actual Christner’s, including including Carol, original operator Russ’s widow, her son David and his wife, Alice, and, most recently, her daughter Diana Johnston.
And there seems to always be a Christner on hand, as well as many staff members who have been with the restaurant for years. They all make sure the consistency remains the same, which is to say excellent.
I always start with the fried oysters, which have disappointed me only once, and that was about 15 years ago. They are usually, as they were this time, plump, evenly breaded and fried to the golden brown some fry cooks spend their careers trying to achieve. Served with ample amounts of tartar and cocktail sauces – I still haven’t decided which one I prefer.
Then I move on to a ribeye, my cut of choice. Luckily, my companion always chooses a New York strip, so I get to enjoy that, too. The ribeye, of course, has more fat, and since fat equals flavor, there’s more meat juice to love, seasoned with a hefty crust of cracked pepper. In a ritual that began back in the Del Frisco’s days, the server asks each diner to cut into the steak to confirm it is cooked to the requested temperature. I can’t remember when it ever wasn’t.
With the filling oysters and the ample slab of meat, more food isn’t necessary but a dinner here isn’t about abstinence. Creamy chateau potatoes, spinach or cheesy potatoes au gratin; I’m never shy about asking for the leftovers to go.
It was nice to get back to Christner’s for its “checkup,” and I think my friends have become fans, too.
Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster is at 729 Lee Road, Orlando (map). It is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-645-4443.