An Older Restaurant Experience

This is a blog entry I wrote last year about a very popular feeding post in the hill country. In it, I mention the Becker Vineyards ’08 Cabernet. After having visited Becker recently and tasting their wines on site, I think that it’s possible that the bottle served us had been improperly stored or mis-handled for some reason. Becker makes very good wine.

It must have been a bad night at the grill, or perhaps I’m a food snob and have never realized it, but dinner last night at this highly rated seafood and steak house left me sorely disappointed and wishing I had gone to a franchise steakhouse instead.

Granted we live in Pearland, a suburb of Houston and home to Killen’s Steakhouse, so we are used to very good restaurant fare, but we are OK eating at Texas Roadhouse or Texas Land and Cattle or Salt Grass, and enjoy meals at IHOP and Denny’s. So I don’t consider us to be food snobs. I MIGHT admit to a tiny bit of wine snobbery, though – I love a well fermented grape, regardless of the type of “cork”.

Enough about us.

When we looked at the menu, we were surprised that the only straight “steak” options were Ribeye and Filet. No Sirloin, no New York Strip, etc. I usually get a Filet anyway, but there are plenty of people who don’t want either. So we ordered two filets (one rare, one medium rare), a set of dry-rubbed steak “tails”, and the special: a half-rack of ribs, jalapeno stuffed quail, and pepper-jack potato salad. I ordered a glass of Becker Vineyards Cabernet (’08, I believe) to go with the steak.

I didn’t bother tasting the wine until I got my steak, and it was AWFUL. The closest I can come to describing it is turpentine. Not that it tasted just like turpentine, but it tasted more like turpentine smells than it did a good cabernet sauvignon. Hyper-Tannin, I guess. (see intro note above)

Both filets were tough. TOUGH FILETS?  Yes. We had to fight to get the meat cut in bite-sized pieces, and my can’t-get-enough-beef son opined that he wished he had ordered seafood. Ditto, Michael. The best that I can guess is that the filets were not aged well or long enough to let the connective tissue break down, but I’m not a steak expert, nor did we stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

The special arrived with the ribs in a stack, and we assumed that the quail was at the bottom. Nope, no quail. When we finally realized that there was no quail, we stopped the waitress and asked about the quail. She apologized for the oversight and quickly brought a jalapeno stuffed quail to the table. I wish we had forgotten about the quail. It was splayed on a small plate – completely unappetizing to all of us. No one could bring themselves to even try it.

Julie’s dry rubbed steak “tails” were palatable but all she could taste was the dry rub instead of the steak. I told her that the dessert had better make up for the entree.

We ordered the Chicken-Fried Pecan Pie (with Jack Daniels Chocolate ice cream), as did Chris, and Michael ordered the German Chocolate Bread Pudding. In the spirit of the meal so far, I managed to find probably the only pecan shell in the building in my piece of pie. Bad things come in threes, right?

The one redeeming part of the evening. If you know Michael well, you know that he cannot stand alcoholic beverages. Evidently he had not overheard that the ice cream accompanying the pecan pie was Jack Daniels Chocolate. Or perhaps he doesn’t know what Jack Daniels is. Nevertheless, he had been trying a little of everything, so Chris handed his plate over so Michael could try the pie and ice cream.

I should have had my camera ready….

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