This week we hit the road in search of The Steak House Restaurant in the small town of Hawkinsville for #FoodieFriday from The Telegraph and Positively 478.
The trip there could be summed up in one sentence: We ain’t from around here.
The GPS took us to a random spot in the middle of Eastman. We had to ask a guy at the local mechanic shop to point us in the right direction and then proceeded to pass the road where the restaurant sits on a hill about four times before finally pulling in the parking lot.
We soon learned for ourselves that it was worth getting lost to eat at one of the most talked about local spots in Hawkinsville. The restaurant was founded in 1972 by the Fowler family.
Lewis Fowler took over the restaurant from his parents in 1989 after graduating from Georgia Southern with a degree in commercial recreation.
They had to move locations a couple of times because they kept growing. They’ve been at the top of the hill since 1999.
He says that he loves being able to serve the community that he grew up in and to carry on his family’s tradition at the restaurant.
“I was honored to be able to come back to my home town. I was born and raised here,” Fowler said. “I look forward to coming to work every day.”
The place was clearly filled with regular customers. The waitresses rarely took a drink order. Instead, they just brought customers their usual beverage. Fowler says that the returning faces are one of the most rewarding parts of his job.
“Seeing faces come back time and time again, it makes you feel like people like what you are doing,” he said. “That is the satisfaction you have to get out of the restaurant business.”
While we may not have known our way around Hawkinsville, by the time we were finished it felt like we were eating among family.
The Steak House has a buffet that offers up country cooking at its finest. Jenna ordered the buffet so she was able to go up and fill up a plate. She grabbed a lot of veggies and a piece of fried chicken.
The chicken had nice crispy crust and was very juicy inside. Jenna commented that the field peas and green beans were seasoned well and reminded her of home cooking.
Fowler said that his dad instituted the country-style cooking when he started the restaurant. The buffet allows them to keep that tradition alive.
“My daddy learned to cook country-style food from a chef that worked with us in the early days,” Fowler said. “We just try to offer a variety that meets the needs of our customers.”
Fowler said that they didn’t want to do the buffet for lunch and dinner every night so he devised a full menu of other items, including hand-cut steaks, seafood and house specials like their hamburger steak.
I decided to give the 16-ounce sirloin steak, fried shrimp and a loaded baked potato a try. The steak was cooked to my specifications with a warm pink center at medium. The steak was seasoned well and had excellent flavor with each bite. They offer other cuts like their porterhouse T-bone, ribeye and a New York strip.
The shrimp was the star of the meal. The batter was crispy, the shrimp tasted fresh and were piping hot like they had just come out of the fryer. The add-on portion felt like a full portion instead of the typical three or four that most places serve.
They also offer popcorn shrimp as one of their daily $6.99 specials. Other specials include shrimp, hamburger steak, chicken tenders, beef tips with rice or grilled chicken. Fowler recommends trying one of the specials or the lunch buffet to first-time guests.
“If they came for the first time and wanted to order a menu item, I would probably say hamburger steak or shrimp,” he said. “I don’t think you can go wrong ordering any of it.”
The Steakhouse offers even more protein, including seafood feasts, grilled pork chops and quail. The variety allows customers to come back multiple times and have the option to order something different on the menu.
Another intriguing thing about this restaurant: You can order 20-ounce steaks for a swanky date night or order a quick home-cooked lunch that gets you out the door for less than $10.
They have a dessert bar with multiple options like a pineapple strawberry cobbler, banana pudding and ice cream.
The pineapple strawberry cobbler caught me off guard because it was a warm dish. However, it did not disappoint as it was really tasty and was the perfect way to end the meal.
Jenna went with the banana pudding and was pleased with the number of vanilla wafer cookies that came in it. She said some places miss the mark in their cookie to banana ratio, but this one found the right balance.
Lunch buffet: $9.95
Sirloin steak: $16.95
Shrimp add-on: $6.99
The Steak House Restaurant:
Location: 9 Buchan Drive in Hawkinsville
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Price range: $6-$35