Restaurant Review: Vince Young Steakhouse
Vince Young turns his 'A' game to the steak game
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., April 8, 2011
Vince Young Steakhouse
Mon..-Thu., 5-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 5-11pm
Vince Young Steakhouse301 San Jacinto, 457-8325
Sunday-Thursday, 5-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 5-11pm
I'm an avid sports fan and orange-bleeding Longhorn who has followed No. 10's career from his very first game at UT, but like everyone else, I had my doubts about the concept of a Vince Young Steakhouse. To succeed in a city full of fine-dining options, it would need to rise above the gimmick to deliver a satisfactory dining experience. Well, so far, so good.
To start, the space is ample and clean, decorated in copper and burnt orange tones that give it an elegant but playful feel, as opposed to the more common dark and overpretentious steak houses. As expected, there's plenty of Young and UT memorabilia lining the walls, but it doesn't seem cheap or out of place. A bit over the top, but to my eyes much better than those trite taxidermy cow heads. Next, Young has assembled an excellent home team with partners Laura McIngvale-Brown and her husband, Austinite chef Phillip Brown, who previously held a spot in the kitchen at Vino Vino. General manager Chris Tosch, formerly of Fleming's, oversees the front of the house. The staff is attentive and friendly without being overbearing, and the extensive wine list includes many high-end favorites.
At the bar, large-screen TVs cater to sports fans who want to watch the game in an atmosphere that's not sports-bar raucous. The specialty cocktails are all named after Young's achievements, made with local spirits and seasonal fruits. Highlights include the Rose Bowl ($11), Miller's gin, Texas grapefruit, Rosé Cava, and rose petals; the First Down ($10), Treaty Oak rum, blueberry syrup, and fresh lime; and the Orange Blood ($8), 512 Wit beer, tangerine, honey, and citrus zest. Visit the daily happy hour 5-7pm to get $2 off specialty cocktails, plus $3 off wines by the glass and $5 off bar menu items. This is an inexpensive way to taste Brown's cuisine, which also goes outside the steak house box. Options include chimichurri-marinated steak and frites, bison sliders with bacon and bleu cheese, and a charcuterie board ($16), a daily selection of tasty house-made meat treats garnished with the necessary accoutrements.
Menu starters include beef tartare, crab cakes, clams and fries with house-made chorizo, pork belly with Dijon vinaigrette, and rosemary-seared lamb chops. Of the salads, we liked the classic wedge ($8), which our server thoughtfully split among three plates, and from the chef's entrées we enjoyed the sweet and moist pan-seared scallops ($27), served with apple, arugula, and fennel salad, and roasted cauliflower puree. The pièce de résistance was a medium-rare 22-ounce prime bone-in rib eye ($42), with à la carte sides of smoky bacon mac and cheese ($8), and spinach two ways ($8), sautéed with lemon and lightly creamed, perfectly cooked to preserve the flavor and texture. Next time, we'll try the sweet-potato mash and roasted brussels sprouts, and perhaps we'll save room for dessert. The poached rhubarb with ice cream we sampled was heavenly, but we were too full to enjoy it fully.
I'm pleased with what I've seen so far at the Vince Young Steakhouse and look forward to catching a game at the bar this fall.