As we requested, the New York Strip was prepared a perfect medium. This is where the good part of the evening ended. The steaks were covered in black pepper to the point where it felt as if the purpose wasn't to enhance the steak, but to mask the lack of flavor in the beef. The steak wasn't so bad that it was inedible, but it wasn't enjoyable, either. Our side of mashed potatoes tasted fresh out of a box and the steaks were accompanied with a couple fingerling potatoes, but an unrecognizable brown nub of something else on our plate didn't look like anything we should put in our mouths.
Reviews online range around 3.5 stars to 4.5 stars so maybe this ended up being a bad night at The Flame, but probably not. We eat enough steak to know better. While our meal wasn't great, the price of a steak didn't break the bank at about $30 and didn't make us sick. A bottle of Coppala Shiraz was very fairly priced under $30.
Our soft spot for the El Cortez has lessened our distaste for The Flame, but next time we're in the mood for a steak downtown we'll just look at the sign for The Flame on Third Street while walking to Triple George. The extra few bucks for their steak is worth it.