by Christopher S. Pineo
This summer, the Boston-area’s most widely followed restaurant critic has included a neighborhood landmark in their publication “The Phantom Gourmet Guide to Boston’s Best Restaurants.”
“Oh obviously I’m flattered. I mean you know when you look at some of the other places that are in there,” said George W. Ravanis, who manages Frank’s Steak House, located at 2310 Massachusetts Ave., with his brother William G. Ravanis Jr.
The team at The Phantom Gourmet identified a need for this type of guide to Boston restaurants through their fan base, said David Andleman, the CEO of the Phantom Gourmet production company.
“The Phantom Gourmet” television program can be seen every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. on WSBK-38.
Andleman said, “Our vision has always been to be more than a television show. Our fans have always asked for more, and that’s fan with a ‘ph’ by the way, they’re not just satisfied with that.”
“The Phantom Gourmet has been on the air since 1993 and in that time I’d say we got a couple thousand e-mails and phone calls, people saying why don’t you guys do a restaurant guide?” he said.
In addition to fan base pressure the team at the team saw a need for the Boston area to have a more comprehensive guide to Boston’s restaurant scene. “We looked at the market for books like that, and we didn’t think there was something that was user friendly that really had what people wanted, which was a guide of where to go, instead of a laundry list of every place in Boston,” he said.
The guide includes 60 of the Phantom’s Great 8 choices, said David’s brother, Daniel, the show’s executive producer.
“The Phantom Gourmet tells you his eight favorite places he gives you about a hundred words on each place, the phone number, the address, the Web site, the price range; exactly what people want to know,” he said.
Frank’s Steak House is steeped in local lore, and as the oldest steak house in Boston stands as a requisite inclusion in the book, he said.
There is even a legend that the steak house even inspired reference by the character Norm on the 80s TV show “Cheers.”
“It was a place called the Hungry Heffer They would have an onion loaf, which is like onion rings all packed in to a loaf and supposedly that was based on the actual onion loaf at Franks steakhouse,” he said.
Susan Warren Southwick of the neighborhood’s holistic organic pet store Animal Spirit said that Franks is such a fixture in the community that some of her customers have been going there for years.
Southwick said one of her customers eats dinner there every night. “He buys his cat food here a couple times a week, but I always know he’s going right to Frank’s afterwards.”
Ravanis said he takes pride in being part of the neighborhood.
The steakhouse does business with many of the shops and services provided in the area, which at one time included the homebrew shop next door, he said.
Frank’s used to serve the beer made at the store, he said. “So, we bought their beer, but then they sold it to a larger company and stopped we broke away.”
“We do business with Mr. Quinn next door, we take insurance from him. We use the dry cleaners up the street,” he said.
Beyond local lore, and contribution to the community there are more reasons that Frank’s had to be included in the guide, Daniel Andelman said. “You know value is probably more important than anything the food the service.”
He said, “The ambience really it all comes down to value. That’s what’s really most important to people make sure they’re not getting a bad deal or they’re getting their moneys worth and their going to walk away saying: ‘you know what? I’ve spent my money wisely tonight.’ And that’s what the book is all about making sure people can make the smarter dining decision.”
Ravanis said he has always enjoyed his relationship and the Andelman family, included their famous dad, sports radio legend Eddie Andelman.
The Andelman brothers said the relationship goes both ways.
David said, “George Ravanis is the guy who makes Frank’s Steak House the place to be.”
“I always want to call him ‘Frank’ whenever I go in there, it’s George though.”
The guide is available at Amazon.com and copies can also be purchased at Frank’s Steak House, along with a cheerfully prepared Onion Loaf.