Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
When a group of six spends more than $400 on dinner, most of the food should be at least as impressive as the saddles
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 3, 2009
Sun.-Thu., 5-10pm, Fri.-Sat., 5-11pm;
Bar opens daily at 4pm.
Steiner Ranch Steakhouse5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd., 381-0800
Bar opens daily at 4pm
Sunday-Thursday: dinner, 5-10pm
Friday & Saturday: dinner, 5-11pm
As a descendant of Texas-born cowboys who actually rode the Chisholm Trail, I've always appreciated an authentic representation of the American Western aesthetic, and it just doesn't come any more authentic than the Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. After ranching for well over half a century on the Western Travis County property, the Steiners sold the ranch for development a few years back, saving a prime hilltop location for the very impressive edifice now bearing the family name. The 14,000-square-foot, multistory restaurant is all stone, glass, and dark woods – it wears the Steiner family's century of ranching and rodeo history with classy style. My cousins who competed against the Steiners on the rodeo circuit back in the day recall that they always had the best trailers, trucks, and livestock, plus the best-looking hand-tooled boots, belts, and saddles. (Those were probably courtesy of another Steiner family business, the legendary Capitol Saddlery.) Many family items are now decorative accents in the restaurant: Tasteful leather furniture in the "tack room" waiting area, artfully framed photos of family and Western movie and rodeo stars, elaborately engraved belt buckles and other trophies, and beautifully accented boots, belts, and saddles all evoke the atmosphere of a successful ranch estate.
Each of the restaurant's three floors features indoor and outdoor eating areas, party rooms, and full bars. All of the patios and most of the rooms offer a panoramic view of Lake Travis, especially the third-floor observation deck. Proprietor Bobby Steiner is a gracious host, and his well-trained staff makes guests feel right at home. The positive response from families in the surrounding area is obvious. The first-floor patio is always full of folks enjoying drinks and live music, and weekend reservations are a good idea if you don't want to wait for a table. Steiner Ranch Steakhouse has the potential to be an outstanding restaurant with many important key elements already in place. Unfortunately, I didn't encounter anything on the table that was as impressive as the place itself.
Family and friends joined me at Steiner Ranch for dinner recently. Of our appetizer choices, a platter of Elk Toronadas ($13 for six) suggested by our server offered delicious slivers of tender elk meat on toasts with a snappy sauce, but the seafood cake ($13) of shrimp, crab, and lobster had the unappealing texture of shredded paper. The Steiner Greens ($5 for a side salad) were simply dressed, cool, and crisp. However, an assertive sauce on the tomato and Gorgonzola salad ($8.50) could not resuscitate the thick slabs of tasteless, underripe tomatoes. Entrée choices delivered hits and misses as well. Our server encouraged those of us who had ordered steaks to check their doneness while she was still at the table, a smart and courteous act on her part. Although my 7-ounce filet mignon with Oscar sauce ($35) was cooked medium rare as ordered, the beef had a strawlike, pre-tenderized texture, and the pasty sauce included the same shredded-paper (frozen?) crabmeat that marred the appetizer. The house mashed potatoes and pencil-thin asparagus paired with the steaks were fine. Friends who ordered the New York Strip ($34) and the Texan rib eye ($39) fared much better, pronouncing their steaks satisfying. My cousin's cedar plank salmon ($21), on the other hand, was too salty to finish. For my money, the best piece of meat on the table that evening was my sister's double-bone pork chop ($19), a thick slab of perfectly cooked pork shellacked with a marvelous Port wine demi-glace, nestled against a tasty rice pilaf. The meat and sides were delicious and made two hearty meals.
As the sun set on our evening, we ordered three desserts to share around the table and hoped for better results. The bread pudding ($7) was rubbery and gelatinous, and the crème brûlée ($7) was dense and grainy. Only the softball-sized scoops of commercial raspberry sorbet ($4) provided a refreshing note to the end of a heavy meal. Don't get me wrong: We did enjoy the company of family and friends in a beautiful setting with a convivial atmosphere and very good service. But I think that when a group of six spends more than $400 on dinner, the majority of the food should at least be as impressive as the saddles.
Wes Marshall, Fri., May 24, 2013
Mick Vann, Fri., May 24, 2013
Wes Marshall, Fri., May 17, 2013
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Kate Thornberry, Fri., May 3, 2013
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