JK's - A Tasteful Splurge in North Raleigh

Posted May 21, 2007 11:40 a.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2007 8:37 a.m. EDT

Ask J.K. Norfleet to describe the perfect steak, and his eyes light up; the owner of JK’s is passionate about his beef. A true cowboy and the grand-daddy of wood-fired grilling on the Outer Banks, J.K.’s years in the restaurant business have gained him a reputation for serving excellent food, prepared simply and as unadorned as possible. They’ve also gained him friends on the docks and in the packing industry who make sure he always gets the quality seafood and beef he demands.

J.K. has three requirements when it comes to beef: it should be well-marbled, have that “silky feeling” and most importantly, it should be aged. His supplier buddies take care of the first two on the list, but the aging is handled in-house. J.K. insists the steaks be cooked over live mesquite coals. 1000 degree coals, to be precise.

“It’s a lot of trouble to cook it the way we do,” says Norfleet. “But being a Texas boy, that’s the way we’ve always done it. You can punch a steak and tell whether it’s done. Most times we use a meat thermometer.”

Yeah, buddy and if you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with the appearance of bone-in tenderloin on the menu. An unusual cut that comes off the short loin, it “Adds a hell of a lot of flavor to a filet,” says J.K.

Because of the superiority of the steaks, it’s an easy mistake to call the restaurant “JK’s Steakhouse,” but it’s much more than that. His buddy on the docks makes sure of that. Day-boat grouper with a walnut crust and North Carolina flounder embellished with a light sauce of local lump crabmeat are evidence of J.K’s familiarity and ease with both “Surf” and “Turf.”

Besides a respectable wine list, JK’s offers an eclectic selection of draft beers – perfect to wash down the Stump Sound Oysters, on special on Sunday nights during season for $7 a dozen. (The half-price beer and wine specials make them go down even smoother.)