When Albert Ahmed passed away last month, his obituary in The Blade noted that he was a man who "lived for his family."
That commitment to family and a hospitable atmosphere are evident the minute you walk into the restaurant he operated for 43 years on Alexis Road.
Ahmed's Steakhouse is small -- it only holds about 70 people -- and unassuming, but you're greeted with smiles and a welcoming, open attitude. And while it bustles with conversation and energy, something about the space doesn't make it feel crowded or too loud.
Ahmed's is a meat and potatoes kind of place, with an emphasis on American food with a bit of Middle Eastern flair. Of course my companions and I had to try the steaks, and the king cut New York strip ($18.99) is something to behold. About an inch thick and ordered medium, it had a pink center without being bloody, and it practically dissolved in the mouth. It's flame-broiled, aged steak and it's large.
As a bonus, the night we were there, fried shrimp were served as a special complimentary side. We're guessing Ahmed's needed to get rid of some shrimp and we welcomed the mini surf and turf.
Equally tasty was the T-bone steak ($20.99), which featured a generous portion of steak that dominated the plate and left just a little room for the steak fries on the side. Those fries, by the way, are an excellent complement to the meat -- chunky, fresh, and robust.
Ahmed's has six seafood entrees, and we tried the ahi tuna ($13.99). It was served as a thick slab with rice pilaf. The tuna was good, but the lemon-pepper seasoning was a bit overwhelming and teetered on wiping out the taste of the fish.
An important thing to note about the restaurant is that the chefs are generous with the salt. How you feel about this probably depends on your general attitude about salty food. While it wasn't a deal-killer for us, everyone at the table noted that the food was almost too salty. We heard a couple of women at a table behind making similar comments.
We also had the chicken kabob ($12.99) which featured lemon-garlic marinated chicken served on a bed of rice and vegetables, including succulent mushrooms.
Sides at Ahmed's are uncomplicated. The restaurant offers choices of rice pilaf, steamed vegetables, french fries, or a baked potato. A soup and salad come with each meal. One quibble we had is that in a week's time, the same two choices -- French onion and meat vegetable -- were the only soups available. While both were good and the meat vegetable was especially hearty with big chunks of potato, it would have been nice to have some different offerings.
Our only other issue with Ahmed's is that the men's bathroom would be exceptionally difficult -- if not impossible -- to get into in a wheelchair. The doors are narrow, and there are two to get through while making an awkward turn from a tiny alcove into the actual bathroom. Given the configuration and size of the restaurant it's hard to see what can be done about this problem without taking up more table space.
Ahmed's has a full bar and is not open for lunch.
Contact Bill of Fare at: firstname.lastname@example.org.