Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saltgrass Steak House

This week the crew was starving so we headed over to Saltgrass Steak House on Katy Freeway/I-10.  For those not from the region, Saltgrass claims it's roots back in the 1800's and uses a Texas theme built around the famous trail rides.  The name comes from the old trail ride days when they herded cattle to the Gulf Coast to graze on the salt grass before bringing them back to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to sell.  The trail was called the Salt Grass Trail and  became known for the high quality beef  it produced.  Pretty big legend to live up to in these parts.

First off Salt Grass is a middle of the road steak house in price.  If you know the area and Texas beef, you can place it between a Taste of Texas on the high end (About 49.99 per person) and a Logan's Road House (about $17 per person). We went in with a goal of keeping to the general menu and staying at around $30 each for the evening.

As you walk in you realize this is 100% Texas themed and it even has a slight ice house feel while keeping things more upscale of course.  If you are like me and cannot stand second hand smoke, make sure you sit as far from the bar area as possible.  The hostess tried to seat us next to the bar area, separated only by a 4 foot partition.  We immediately requested to be seated further away, to which she immediately obliged.  Not a major issue, but in the day of fewer and fewer restaurants with smoking sections, it was a bit disappointing for an upper scale place.

Once seated the waiter was immediately there to take drink and appetizer order.  The staff here seemed very attentive and professional already, and the bar issue began to fade.  Shiner Bock Beer Bread, let me stress this item to you!  It is amazingly good so leave room as you will devour the loaf.   As an appetizer we  ordered the Seafood Fondeaux.  This is an item found in a lot of area restaurants and is easily messed up in even good kitchens.  Drinks arrived and the waiter accompanied them with decanters for us to handle our own refills.  I am a guy who drinks a lot and this is a MAJOR point with me.  All to often I am drinking my wife's drink while hoping the waitress comes back by.  The staff here eliminated that possibility immediately.  We ordered two middle of the road dishes.  To see if they can really cook we got the Chopped Sirloin Steak with mushrooms, onions and cognac pepper sauce, house salad with ranch, and asparagus ($14.99).  For a sample of the beef quality, a medium 12oz Pat's Ribeye with scampi rice and a house salad/blue cheese ($19.99).

The order was in, two minutes of chit chat, and the fondeaux arrives.  Instantly we noticed the appetizer is large for the price.  At only $8.29 it can handle 3 or 4 people (especially after a loaf or two of Shiner Bock Beer Bread).  The fondeaux was perfect.  Lots of shrimp cooked perfectly, seasoned well but not too much, mushrooms, creamy cheese...we destroyed it quickly leaving only 2 of the toast pieces and finishing the fondeaux with a spoon!

Soon as we finished, the salads arrived.  More than a normal dinner salad the portion was good and the produce was fresh.  After eating about half the salad, saving some for the entree of course, the food arrives.  The Chopped Steak I smelled coming!  The ribeye looked great.  Note, if you are dieting etc it comes doused in butter.  Ask for it to be dry if you need to.  First cut into the steak and it is slightly over cooked for a medium but cuts like butter.  First bite and I forgot about the slight overcooked part.  The seasoning and flavor was perfect.  I ate a $50 ribeye last week and in reality, this was just as good.  Scampi rice is delicious too by the way, but man the steak was delicious and stole the show.  Half of it went into the box with the remaining rice for lunch tomorrow.

Now on to the Chopped Sirloin.  A chopped sirloin is NOT a hamburger!  Ones that are done wrong are, ones that are not are a masterpiece.  Rembrandt may have cooked this one.  The sirloin literally melts in your mouth. Excellent steak flavor and the cognac sauce is subtle and enhances the sirloin instead of covering it up.  Asparagus actually was under cooked and a bit firm and crunchier than I prefer but fresh and tasty still.

Now for where I feel Saltgrass really shines, service.  The staff here tag teams the tables.  Empty plates are picked up immediately, need some sauce and some is there, it is an ambiance of attentiveness and it is impressive.  The staff was professional, the service impeccable, and the food was delicious.  Out the door with a nice tip and drinks right under $60. I will be back for sure and they are building a new one near my home in Cypress...cattle beware!

Saltgrass Steak House
8943 Katy Freeway
Houston, Texas

Saltgrass Steak House on Urbanspoon

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