So, it was Shirley's birthday and I decided to make it a fancy one. I looked around for fine dining restaurants in Gainesville, and decided on the nicest steakhouse in town: Mark's.
Location: Downtown across from the parking garage and next to Dragonfly.
Atmosphere: It's a steakhouse. Mark's captures everything you want from a steakhouse very well. Cushy leather booths, dark wood everywhere, and some jazz playing in the background.
Service: Excellent. The wait staff is personable, knowledgable, and very quick. Empty dishes were cleared from the table as soon as they were emptied, and the food delivered as if they were reading our minds.
Food: We lead with the steak tartare and crab cakes for appetizers. The steak tartare is served with horeradish cream sauce, capers, and red onion. It was tender and full of flavor. I don't think I could have had a better introduction to steak tartare.
The crab cakes were served with a very nice looking presentation, and were absolutely delicious. These are not stuffed with fillers and grains. These are meaty, tasty, amazing crab cakes. If you like crab cakes, do not pass these up.
For our main course, we both had steak. Mark's has other items that looked good, but hell, we're in a steakhouse. Get the steak.
I chose the bone-in ribeye, and Shirley chose the petite filet. For sides, Mark's serves all their sides family-style. We chose grilled asparagus and potatoes lyonnaise.
The steaks came out, and we learned about something special Mark's does with the steaks. They heat all their plates to 400 degrees, meaning that your steak comes to your table sizzling, and stays hot and tender throughout your meal. For those worrying about it ruining your meat by cooking it further, it seems to be at just low enough temperature for that to not be a problem. My steak stayed at a nice medium rare throughout the meal.
The steak was near fork-tender. You will not have to work your knives much. It is delicious, large, and perfectly cooked. There's not much else I can say for these. They know steak, they have good cuts, and they prepare them perfectly.
The asparagus made me jealous, they had such large and tasty looking stalks. Much bigger and tastier than what I can get at the supermarket.
The potatoes lyonnaise were certainly not the highlight of the meal, but I think if I were not eating them alongside such great food, they would have stood out more to me.
For desert, we looked at the cocktail menu because we were so full of food. Mark's offers several dessert cocktails for those wanting both alcohol and a little sweetness to finish the night. I chose the chocolate decadence cocktail, and Shirley chose the creme brulee. I'm not quite sure how, but I think if I were to order the actual desserts I would have not enjoyed them as much. The cocktails were delicious and everything I come back, I will be ordering one.
Price: Expensive. Probably one of the most expensive meals you can get in Gainesville.
Overall: 9.5/10 Excellent food, service, atmosphere, and drinks. What more can you ask for?