I thought long and hard about my review for Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, because my mother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Well, in spite of feeling a bit bad, I decided to ignore dear old Mom and tell the truth about our visit last week.
1. The view – amazing. The restaurant itself is quite lovely as well, although it has “Texas flair” that I personally think is overused in our steakhouses.
2. The cocktails. I had the single best lemon drop martini that has ever graced my lips, and I’ve had one or two in my time. They know how to shake a cocktail.
3. My chicken fried elk. Not great, but definitely good. I wouldn’t travel all the way to the restaurant to eat it (I live close to plenty of chicken fried steak places), but I enjoyed it.
1. The service. I am not saying this to be nasty, but I honestly think our waitress was (a) extremely sleep-deprived or (b) high as a kite. She stumbled over her words, had to read things off her notepad more than once, had difficulty articulating any thoughts at all, and then there was the topper. When I asked her about a particular bottle of wine, before she went off to find the sommelier, she said, “Let me go get the………..……wine guy. He has a special name.” [Insert your own joke here.] And she wanders off. I feel certain that her problems were too severe for it to be a case of new server jitters. For the record, the “wine guy” seemed quite knowledgeable and helped us select an excellent mid-priced Malbec.
2. The appetizers. The elk turbanados (I think that’s what they called them) were slices of elk on a cracker with some chopped tomatoes. The flavor of the dish was actually quite good, but the elk was tough. The crab cakes also had a pleasant flavor, but tasted mostly of cake, since there wasn’t much crab in them. The tuna tartar was tough and inedible. I don’t know if they’re buying bad quality fish or what, but tuna tartar should not be chewy. It was also a weird, pink neon color around the edges. Made me nervous.
3. The sauces. I only tasted my husband’s entrée, so I can’t speak for everyone else, but no one but me was pleased with what they ordered (2 rib-eye steaks, the veal steak, and the tenderloin topped with shrimp and crab; I ordered the chicken fried elk). Both the béarnaise sauce on the veal and the shrimp and crab sauce on my husband’s tenderloins were colors not found in nature – a bright orange that resembled something you’d pour out of a can. The shrimp were the tiniest I’ve seen anywhere; they were practically minuscule. For all that color, the sauce and the steak were decidedly lacking in taste.
Before I left work, a colleague of mine told me he put SRS beneath the Salt Grass in terms of food quality. I laughed and told him there’s no way I believed that. I was eating my words when I arrived back at work the next day.
Since I’m sure someone will ask, we did not share our feelings with the management at the time. I typically will only do that when I think there’s something management can do to rectify the situation. Sending back the bulk of the appetizers and all but one entrée (to eat what?) seemed impractical, and everyone was a bit concerned about what they might get instead.
As I said, the space is really beautiful, and the drinks are lovely. I really hope they can bring the service and the food up to the caliber of the gorgeous restaurant they have on their hands.
Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd., Austin, TX 78732