So, the Brannigans up our way disappeared.
We're not sure when it went away, but it was in the last couple of weeks. One time we drive by, it's a Brannigans. The next time we drive by, it's a Longhorn Texas Steakhouse. plonq
and I decided to pop by there tonight for dinner. I've been to the Longhorn Steakhouses in the States, and it was a pretty good place, so I thought this would be worth checking out.
It's done up in a typical "western" theme, although they still have a lot of work to do to disguise the fact that it used to be a Brannigans. (Removing the giant frosted glass room dividers with the script "B" on them would be a good start.) We were greeted and seated promptly and given menus. That's when I realized this wasn't the Longhorn that I'd known. The menu, although it had the little Longhorn icons, was not the same as the menu I remembered. It seemed a bit sparse, but I thought - hey, they just started up, give them some time.
I ordered a ribeye, plonq
got a porterhouse, and fetlock
ordered the beef skillet. We also got one of their "flowering" onions... And it's when that arrived we knew we were not in for a treat.
I've had the bloomin' onion at Outback, and Tony Roma's here has a similar menu item. This was a bloomin' onion done very poorly. Instead of using a sweet onion, it was done with a regular yellow onion. The batter was mediocre, and it didn't seem to have been cooked properly. The batter was all mostly cooked, but the onion was still quite raw in the middle. The sauce that came with it could have conceivably saved the dish, but it just didn't seem to go with the onion.
We also got the salad bar with our dinners. It would have been ok, if we hadn't paid $3.99 for it. As it was, for the price it was a pretty lame salad bar. There were two types of greens, some potato salad, sliced beets, a few dressings, cut veggies, some toppings, and a few other things. That's it. Like I said, though, this place was just getting going... Maybe they hadn't figured out their full spread yet.
Then our main courses arrived. Out of our three dinners, there was one thing that was good: plonq
's mashed potatoes. Everything else was either mediocre or less. The mashed potatoes had a nice texture and flavor, but my fries were a bit limp and bland. Come to think of it, that described a lot of the food we had tonight: bland. It was as if the chefs were afraid to use spices. The batter for the onion was bland. Our steaks - really nice cuts of meat, well marbled and cooked just right - had no seasoning at all
. My steak tasted charred, and that's it. There didn't seem to be any marinating, no spice rub, nothing
. If they were seasoned at all, it was really really subtle. The veggies were kinda blah as well. fetlock
's skillet dish was a disappointment as well, with chewy bits of meat tossed with tasteless veggies and rice.
When we were asked if we wanted to see a dessert menu, we declined.
The service was fairly attentive and pleasant, so no complaints there. I thought about expressing my disappointment in our dishes to the waitress, but I pondered whether there was anything really wrong with our meals, or if we just didn't like them. Now, technically, anytime that you don't like a meal it's because you don't like the way in which it was cooked, but everything came out as advertised. Bland, tasteless, but as advertised. We discussed it a bit and decided that we just didn't like the food, and that's not something to complain about. (On the other hand, I was *this* close to walking over to a neighboring table and introducing myself to the occupants, because they kept staring at us. Like, really staring. Turning around and staring. Walking by our table to the salad bar and staring. It was kinda creepy.)
So, thumbs up for prompt and friendly service. Thumbs down for food, menu selections, and weird clientelle. I'm willing to give this place another shot in a year (or more) - once I've forgotten how sad I was that my steak was so boring. Hopefully they can get the kinks out of their system, figure out a logo that makes it clear they are NOT affiliated with the US chain (and if they are, I have a letter to write), and realize that good food needs good spices.
(x-posted to my journal)