Monty Hilton pondered his options — then settled on a steak sandwich.
The decision earned him a trip for two to Las Vegas.
Eating at JB’s Lounge in the Black Knight Inn Friday evening, Hilton ordered the one-millionth steak sandwich to be served by the hotel since 1990. The approximately 100 patrons in the lounge at the time were offered complimentary champagne, and Black Knight Inn owner Ken Mandrusiak presented Hilton with a certificate for the Vegas trip.
“I just about didn’t order it,” said the Red Deer man, who also nearly lost the milestone honour to his friend Johanne Knudsen, of Stettler.
Knudsen had settled on a steak sandwich for her meal, but changed her mind just prior to ordering ahead of Hilton.
Mandrusiak said his hotel serves about 5,000 steak sandwiches a month, and keeps close tabs on the running tally.
“We’re in the ball park here when you look over 20 years,” he said of the count.
The Black Knight Inn has a reputation as a good place to order the popular meal. When the Alberta Beef Producers used to organize an annual Best of Beef Hotel Culinary Challenge, the Red Deer hotel twice earned the number 1 ranking for steak sandwiches in Northern Alberta.
Mandrusiak attributed the popularity of his steak sandwiches to several couple factors, including the preparation process and the quality of the beef that goes onto each plate.
“We’ve always used sirloin butts,” he said. “Traditionally, they’re a tasty cut.”
The Black Knight Inn has also always obtained its beef from Nossack Fine Meats of Red Deer.
“It’s been a great relationship,” said Mandrusiak, explaining that Nossack owner Karsten Nossack is responsive to feedback about his products. “If I was dealing with some major packer, it’s not likely I could phone the president.”
“It’s a centre cut that we utilize,” said Nossack of the top sirloin butt he supplies to the Black Knight Inn. “Nicely trimmed, with no fat and no gristle.”
The beef is grain-fed, he added, and aged for a minimum of 28 days.
But Nossack pointed out that meat quality is irrelevant if a steak isn’t cooked properly. He credits Mandrusiak’s kitchen staff for the popularity of the meal.
The current price of a steak sandwich at the Black Knight Inn is $8.50. Advertised as a six-ounce cut, it actually weighs seven ounces, said Mandrusiak.
“There are a lot of good steak sandwiches in town, but they’re probably in the $11, $12 range for a comparable product.
“Whenever I go out for lunch, I tend to order steak sandwiches just to see what my competition is doing.”
How many cattle were needed for the production of a million top sirloin butt steak sandwiches?
Nossack estimated the tally at 50,000.