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Home / Articles / Food / Food & Drink /  Hello, Kitty: It's Crazy George's universe at Kitty Pappas' Steakhouse; we just live in it.
Food & Drink

Hello, Kitty: It's Crazy George's universe at Kitty Pappas' Steakhouse; we just live in it.

By Ted Scheffler
Posted // October 22,2008 - The other day, I was thumbing through a fancy food quarterly called Art Culinaire: The International Magazine in Good Taste. This is a large format, hardcover, full-color, coffee-table-type publication aimed, apparently, at folks with an awful lot of time on their hands and access to the world’s most esoteric food ingredients. Here are a few of the recipes in Art Culinaire: grilled kangaroo with yellow fava falafel; squab breast in Savoy cabbage with nigella seeds; grilled ox tongue with quinoa flatbread; dukkah-crusted monkfish cheeks; and pork jowls with turnips. A “sashimi quartet”—and remember that sashimi is simply raw fish—requires a total of 61 ingredients. You’d have to be criminally insane to attempt the latter.?

A visit to Kitty Pappas’ Steak House is the antidote to an Art Culinaire universe, a breath of greasy air in a foam-and-microgreens world. Dining there is a singularly unique experience, as nothing quite compares to the bizarreness of this Woods Cross steakery. Even the twisted mind of Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t have conjured the weird world that is Kitty Pappas’ Steak House.

You walk into what is essentially a tavern—a long bar filled with beer-drinking regulars. But, down at the south end of the bar near the Jerry Garcia photo, is the entrance to the dark dining room. No one will greet you. No one will seat you. Pick a table or booth and wait for George to get around to you.?

That’s “Crazy George” to you and me, pal. Crazy George is without a doubt the most unique restaurant server I’ve ever encountered, and that’s saying something. While JoLayne tends to the bar customers, George—son of Kitty Pappas—seems to be the restaurant’s only other server. He’s clad in black slacks and combo Hawaiian/tie-dye shirt open nearly to the navel, which gives you a good look at the peace symbol around his neck. I have little doubt that this is an original ’60s peace medallion; Crazy George is a hippie at heart.

Seated at a booth in the vinyl and wood-appointed dining room, I ask George, “So, what’s good here?” “The sign outside says ‘steak’!” is his response. So I order the most expensive item on the Kitty Pappas menu, the sirloin steak ($20.45), along with a Polygamy Porter ($3.25). There is no wine. My dining companion orders the grilled cheese sandwich ($5). George quickly brings me a small iceberg lettuce salad doused with bottled dressing, a thick slice of tomato on top and, maybe in lieu of croutons, saltines on the side. No one comes to Kitty Pappas’ Steak House for the salads.

It’s a Friday night and the place isn’t especially crowded, but we wait and we wait and we wait for our food—somewhere upwards of 45 minutes. But it’s not that bad thanks to the most eclectic—which by my way of thinking means the best—jukebox on the planet. The juke is stocked with Crazy George’s CDs, and I must say he has impeccable musical taste. The soundtrack for the evening includes Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” done by the trombone band Bonerama; Dread Zeppelin’s cover of CCR’s “Born on the Bayou”; Richard Cheese’s splendid rendition of “Baby Got Back”; and tunes by superb artists like Tony McPhee & The Groundhogs, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men. There are bluegrass versions of Moody Blues songs, and I think I remember hearing Dionne Warwick singing “The Look of Love.” Welcome to George’s universe.

The steak was disappointing: thin, overcooked and loaded with fat and gristle. But my companion happily declared hers “the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had!” It was nicely charred thin white bread with gooey white cheese inside. When I asked George what kind of cheese they used, he proudly proclaimed: “Processed Swiss!” It was indeed a very tasty sandwich, if perhaps not the world’s best. The so-so French fries (“no skinny, wimpy fries here” said George) were given a new lease on life thanks to George’s special fry sauce. There’s green and there’s red: a mixture of ranch dressing with green Thai curry and red Thai curry, respectively. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

The best item on the menu is the eggburger ($5.25). It’s a juicy grilled beef burger topped with a fried egg. A burger plus a fried egg: How bad could that be? At lunch this time, my companion ordered the grilled ham and cheese ($6), which was a lot like the grilled cheese but with a thin slice of ham added. It didn’t suck either, but isn’t as good as the salami-and-cheese sandwich ($5.25).

Kitty Pappas’ Steak House has been around since 1947, so I thought I’d better go back and try another steak. There must be some reason folks have been ordering steaks there for 60-plus years. The club steak ($18.95) was as satisfying as the sirloin had been disappointing. Also known as a Delmonico, this cut was a vast improvement—thick, juicy and cooked to perfectly medium-rare. George has been known to go off on customers who ask for steak sauce before they taste his mom’s cooking, so I didn’t. However, he treated me to his special ketchup and mustard, each of which is spiked with Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce. Both totally rocked my club steak. Then George and JoLayne convinced me to try slices of mom’s home-baked cakes ($2.50). The pistachio cheesecake and coconut cake with cream cheese frosting were damned delicious.

Kitty Pappas’ Steak House isn’t for everyone; Ruth’s Chris it ain’t, and they don’t take credit- or debit cards. But, if Crazy George’s weird and wonderful universe sounds appealing, definitely give it a try.

KITTY PAPPAS’ STEAK HOUSE
n2300 S. Main (Hwy 89), Woods Cross, 801-295-9981, Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday

 
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 14,2011 at 22:34

march 14, 2011. This place looks old. I love it :P is way nice and cool. Is the right right place to kick it. The food is good.O_O

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // December 3,2008 at 12:17 I am sorry Ted’s first steak was not up to his standards at Kitty Pappas’ Steakhouse. I have never had such an experience in all my years of dining at Kitty’s. Every one of the steaks I’ve had there has been perfectly cut, and cooked to perfection. The experience of walking into Kitty Pappas’ Steakhouse was only partially captured in the article--the physical appearance was described, but he failed to appreciate the special combination of eclectic ambiance and great food. Kitty’s is the Woods Cross version of a French Brasserie or Cafe. Yes, the decorations are interesting and unique, just as is the selections on the juke box. Yes, Crazy George is one of a kind, which is part of the charm. George has two fan clubs--one at the restaurant and one at Solitude where he skis everyday, and he is known and loved by all. I have never met a more interesting, funny, intelligent, or personable person anywhere.nn Ted admitted to having a better second visit and then dismissed the negative reactions to his comments by saying it was all tongue in cheek. However, Ted still failed to touch on the real story. The sixty year old restaurant was mentioned, but not that Kitty has been managing the place and cooking there equally as long. I know of no other Utah restaurant which can boast such a track record. If only Ted had asked Kitty to come out of the kitchen after closing he would have had the honor and pleasure of meeting a genuine Utah legend. She has the charm and wit to keep patrons on the edge of their seats for hours. Kitty is not just the cook, she is the institution. She is the driving force behind the long-standing success of this Woods Cross landmark. She loves cooking so much that she continued cooking with an injured hip this summer. She loves her restaurant and son enough to allow both to morph the restaurant into the greatest steak house with the most personality in the entire state.nnI suggest that Ted schedule a third visit and learn from Kitty the miracle of cooking for patrons (read friends) for more than sixty years. And while you’re at it, Ted, talk to George about joining him for a day of skiing at Solitude. After all that, you will understand the feeling of being in the presence of two real celebrities, who also happen to serve great food!

 

 
 
 
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