Crystal City Restaurant came highly recommended by an hospitality biz insider who’s been known to date a stripper or two. He told me that CCR — as it’s known among the regulars — has a good reputation for serving solid steaks along with its carousel of flesh on two stages.

The place looks rather harmless from the street. It features a brick-and-tile facade that gives little indication, save for the silhouette of two mammothly endowed women, of the nude acrobatics going on inside. Unlike at Camelot Show Bar, where I ate lunch today, you have to seat yourself, which is sort of a pyschological test to measure your perv and shame levels.

I decided that if I’m going to do this thing right, I’m going to sit right up front, by God. I claimed a four-top booth near the stage and plopped myself down. I promptly ignored the dancer about eight feet away and checked my e-mail accounts, typed out an e-mail to a source, checked facebook looked for comments on my previous postings, logged on to Twitter, and generally acted like I was at the office for about 10 minutes.

I clearly need work on my strip-club etiquette.

The waitress here wasn’t required to perform her job wearing lacy underwear. She wore a short skirt and a casual top, looking no different than, say, someone working the tables at an Eastern Shore crab shack or a sports bar in Bethesda. She handed me a menu and left me alone to review its many choices. 

I opted for the most dangerous entree: the New York strip steak dinner special, available on Wednesdays. The six-ounce strip (ugh!) comes (double ugh!) with your choice of potato, and a vegetable side. All this for the low, low price of $5.99.

I felt like I was in Las Vegas, back before all the celebrity chefs arrived and the only gustatory attractions were the all-you-can-eat buffets for $5.99 a head. The lines for those buffets could be longer than the queue to ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland

My memories of those buffets are not too kind — slices of roast beef that had been sitting under a heat lamp for hours, a broad and lifeless array of vegetables, and a chocolate cream pie for dessert. The shit was designed, I figured, to get you back to the gaming tables pronto.

I wasn’t sure what the $5.99 New York strip steak dinner was designed to do, given the attraction of Crystal City, one presumes, has nothing to do with what’s on the plate. But nonetheless, the management has one stipulation for its ultra-cheapo steak special:

Dine-in only.