Halftime's steaks earn Grade A reputation

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Why: For the 21 and older crowd, Halftime Bar & Grill is an excellent option for a quality steak meal that will give you your money’s worth. Family-owned since 1903, the place has become known for USDA Choice, grain-fed beef, which is supplied by Double R Ranch here in the Northwest. In addition, the fish is purchased fresh twice a week and never frozen.

Atmosphere: Most surfaces are black or very dark and void of any sort of decor. The ceiling is dotted with can lights that are painted in a shade of pink and billiard lights are positioned over the three pool tables on either end of the restaurant. Seating consists of tables and chairs, barstools at the long bar, and one wall is lined by cozy half-booths that face the bar. Several large-screen TVs are viewable from any seat in the restaurant. The overall vibe is of a bar, but there is plenty of seating apart from it for those who prefer.

What I tried: For our dinner visit, I decided to try the Baked Halibut Oscar with a garden salad and baby red potatoes. My dining companion chose the Ribeye Bone-In Delmonico, which is a 16-ounce aged steak marinated in a flavorful blend of seasonings that include Worcestershire sauce, pepper and garlic. He had a Caesar salad and baby red potatoes with the steak. Both entrees came with garlic toast as well. For dessert, we had the homemade White Raspberry Cake.

Before our meal arrived, we were served a plate of olives, pepperoncinis, dill pickle spears, baby corn and carrot and celery sticks along with ranch dressing for dipping. Other than the celery, which was dry, it was a nice change from the typical before-dinner bread or chips.

Next up was our salads. My dining companion enjoyed his Caesar, but mine was a pre-mixed bag variety -- it wasn’t bad, though this type of salad is not my favorite due to the distinct flavor the greens acquire from the packaging, which is unlike a fresh-made salad. There were, however, grape tomatoes and sliced cucumber added to it.

My halibut dish consisted of a square halibut steak, oven baked in a garlic-herb butter and topped with a mound of shredded Dungeness crab meat. A smooth homemade hollandaise sauce was poured over the top, and two asparagus spears were neatly placed over the sauce. The result was delicious and flavorful with a few different textures. The halibut was moist and flaky and had developed a firm texture on the bottom where it sat in the butter blend while baking, much like a roast does. The result was interesting and tasty. My dining companion’s steak was likewise impressive and perfectly cooked to medium well as he had requested. He commented on the richness of both the marinade and the meat.

The potatoes were cubed and cooked, semi-firm, with the skin on. They were topped with butter and parsley and provided a mellow component to the meal.

The garlic toast was made of thick-sliced French bread, buttered and seasoned. It was pleasantly crusty all the way through.

Both entrees were garnished with a half of a strawberry and pink-stemmed kale; mine included a lemon wedge.

The cake we had for dessert was a delectable finish to our meal. The white cake was layered with raspberry filling and frosted with a light white frosting that didn’t overwhelm the cake. It may have been because the sun broke through the clouds and shone through the windows while we were enjoying it, but the light, sweet flavors of the cake reminded me of a summertime treat.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The Classic Garlic Prawn Pasta sounded intriguing, as did The Schwarzkopf, a steak made famous by Ret. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. The latter is a 10-ounce “baseball cut” top sirloin stuffed with melted bleu cheese crumbles and topped with caramelized onions. Halftime also makes all their soups in-house — clam chowder and creamy tomato are most popular.

Other observations: The service was friendly and attentive and the restaurant is very clean.

For 50 cents, you can enjoy some inexpensive entertainment with a game of pool after dinner. I lost both games, but it was fun.

Cost: Breakfasts range from $5 to $14. Sandwiches and burgers for lunch are $10 to $14. Soup is $4 to $6. Meal salads are $14 to $18, a small Caesar is $6 and a small green dinner salad is $5. Appetizers are $8 to $14. Dinners cost $14 to $35. You may add a side of prawns to some of the steaks for $10, and for $35 you may include a baked lobster tail with any steak dinner.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Telephone: 360-694-3114.

Where: 7115 N.E. Hazel Dell Ave., Vancouver.

Health score: Halftime Bar & Grill received a score of 0 on March 12. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.