I have to admit I knew a little bit about Longhorn Steakhouse before visiting during their Grand Opening celebration. I knew that the restaurant started from a tiny family operation in Atlanta, GA. I knew that the brand had been grown to enormous size by Darden, the restaurant giant. Therefore, I approached the Plano opening with some trepidation. What was this corporate group thinking about trying to open a steakhouse in North Texas that claimed Texas history?
Well, color me impressed! From the time we entered the attractively decorated dining room, we were impressed by the touches Longhorn Steakhouse has made to become a authentic – and tasty – addition to the North Texas dining scene.
Longhorn Steakhouse has done several things to create a unique dining experience at their Plano outpost – and they really pay off. We started off with the Longhorn Butcher Block, an appetizer featuring unique tastes of Texas. The generous platter included grilled sausage bites from Slovacek’s in Snook, TX paired with fried Oaxaca cheese from Montgomery County, TX all paired with pickles and a spicy mustard. Nothing about this dish was throwaway. The sausage was meaty and peppery with lots of flavor, and the fried cheese, which I feared would taste like cheese sticks from the 1980’s instead were reminiscent of regional cheese curds gently fried in a very light batter. The mustard was the perfect complement for the sausage, and the pickles added the perfect tang!
Of course, the steaks were the real test, and we ordered two. The New York strip was a reasonable 12 oz. portion, and cooked to order a perfect rare.
I ordered Flo’s Filet, because nothing beats a great filet. My server was quick to educate me about the seasoning blend used on the steaks, and asked if I had any concerns about sodium. Based upon her recommendations, I ordered mine light on seasoning, and that was the perfect recommendation. Cooked to a lovely medium rare, the filet was buttery and flavorful. While we did not order it, we were excited to see that the restaurant also offered a USDA Prime Delmonico with a generous cut.
Our last companion went beyond steaks to order Lamb Chops. The generous rack of four small chops were cooked well and perfectly seasoned!
We finished our meal with the restaurant’s signature Chocolate Stampede. This behemoth is large enough for a giant party. Our party of three barely made a dent in the massive platter featuring cake featuring six types of chocolate and tasty vanilla ice cream. What a celebratory ending!
Being part of a larger organization brings a few negatives – and many positives – to this tasty steakhouse. The décor, while a little cookie cutter, is very respectful of Texas history and heritage. Like many large, multi-unit restaurants, Longhorn Steakhouse doesn’t have the broad selection of wines that competing steakhouses might, but the selection they have is appropriate, and servers appear to be well-educated about the list.
Also, the management and staff seem very committed to creating a consistent dining experience, so that every trip to Longhorn Steakhouse is as good as the last one. One of the things that should really resonate with diners is the restaurant’s value proposal – every dish is designed to offer a strong value for the price.
So as we left, full and happy, from Longhorn Steakhouse, we all commented that we’d return again, and we certainly will!
(Disclaimer: My menu sampling was complimentary, and all opinions are my own.)