Friday, January 23, 2009

Dining Diva Review: Texas Roadhouse

If you have a peanut allergy, don't even drive by Texas Roadhouse. Peanuts are everywhere and there are barrels of them all over the restaurant and shells all over the floor. Personally I never liked the shells-on-the-floor ambiance because it's sort of like dining in a landfill, (what's next--beer bottles on the floor?) but it seems to be popular with the other diners and the peanuts are always fresh and tasty so I'll give it a pass on the peanut mess everywhere.
The rest of the food is quite good. Delicious fresh-baked rolls with honey butter were delivered to the table seconds after our waiter took our drink orders. They were steamy and tender and when slathered in the butter made it worth the trip no matter what else went wrong--which in our case was nothing. You are also able to choose a specific steak for your dinner from the refrigerated meat case display, so for those of us who like to meet our dinner beforehand, it's a nice touch. My husband despises gristle in his steaks so I like being able to inspect it for him prior to the cooking! We have made several visits to the store in Fairview Heights and several trips to the one in Newport News, VA and they have replaced Outback as my casual dining steak restaurant of choice when traveling. Their steaks are good quality, cooked correctly and served with your choice of several excellent side dishes. They also have excellent fried catfish, which isn't easy to do consistently. The coating is crisp and the fish is flaky and not dried out with a very nice fresh flavor. I'm not a fish eater, but their catfish is some of the best I've ever had!
The service is friendly and efficient and they brew some excellent iced tea in addition to a full bar and a nice wine and beer selection. It's a good place to take the family and it's a good place to take a date because it's not loud like some casual dining places. I've never had a bad meal at the one in Fairview Heights and the Virginia one only missed once--not a bad record!
HERE'S A SAD UPDATE: Since this post I've dined three times at the Texas Roadhouse and each meal is worse than the one before it. The catfish was hideously overcooked on a subsequent visit, everything has become severely oversalted and today for the last straw they served me RARE chicken and then an overcooked steak. The wonderful rolls were also served cold and hard and the steamed veggies were inedible. I'm crossing Texas Roadhouse off of my list of places where I will eat, they've gone the way of the Outback.

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