The Scientists

(doctors of drinking)

Release Date: 2009-08-19

I didn’t see any shady ladies at the Shady Lady Saloon. Believe me, I checked. Sure, there were plenty of women in the bar mixing it up with the bikers, ’kickers, and good-timers that make up Lady’s clientele, but none of them seemed all that shady. (I did see one potentially crazy lady, though. More on that later.) In fact, most of the women seemed to be genuinely cool, straightforward, and friendly. Maybe it was the $10 steaks.

Thursday night means Steak Night and Karaoke Night at the southeast-side bar, a winning combo: At 7 p.m., the parking lot was packed to capacity. For tone-deaf vegetarians, the Lady offers shuffleboard and pool tables every night, but there’s not much elbow room when the bar gets really hopping.

Our very, very busy (but always pleasant) waitress recommended we order steaks before ordering drinks, which was good advice — Vicki Ledbetter and her small crew from Ledbetter’s Better Catering cook up around 150 steaks on two massive gas grills, and the meat will run out. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be served fast, though — we placed orders around 7:30 and the first steak arrived at the table at 8:51. In the meantime, we sucked on typical ice-house brews (Miller Lite, Bud Light) on the spacious patio, which wasn’t too hot but could have used a few fans. Not feeling the beer selection, Dr. Shaver ordered $3 well whiskey and Diet Cokes all night. Drink service was a little slow, but she did get a taller glass for the same price when she asked.

We jealously watched over our shoulders as other patrons got their steaks, and when ours finally arrived (on real china, too!), it was the highlight of the evening. Our sizable cuts were grilled to perfection, and the baked potatoes were soft and buttery. Dr. Gonzalez particularly enjoyed his medium-rare steak: “It’s soft ... tender,” he said between chews. “It looks like it was cooked on low ... more than 10 minutes on each side.” We wolfed them down, guzzling more beers as the night cooled off. With a stomach full of beef, however, I felt less like partying and more like lapsing into a food coma.

THE BAR TAB

VIBE Honky-tonk meets
biker rally meets
neighborhood steak
cookout

BEST USE Chowing down
on truly excellent
steaks while being
alternately entertained
and horrified by karaoke
singers

Inside the bar, karaoke jockey Grendel (yes, Grendel) kicked the night up a notch with a serviceable take on Toby Keith’s “I Wanna Talk About Me.” Besides Toby Keith, the only real annoyance of the night came when Dr. Gillespie went to the ladies’ room and came back mildly traumatized. “The bathrooms are not quite ‘gas station,’” she said. “There was toilet paper, but no paper towels.” No locks on the doors, either, ladies.

Meanwhile, things got weird onstage: A woman screeched her way through Blue October’s godawful “Hate Me,” squatting and howling at an audience just trying to watch the Cowboys game. When she finished, Grendel took back the mic and tried to wrestle the mood from “emo-kid’s bedroom” to the Shady Lady’s typical feel-good, honky-tonk vibe. “Well,” he said, grinning. “That is one fucked up song.”

Without missing a beat, he immediately called up some country tunes and the crowd, unfazed, settled back into a contented rumble.

The Scientists is a semi-anonymous drinking club on a mission to test out San Antonio’s best/worst/weirdest bars and clubs. We take our mission very, very seriously.

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