Steaks for Large Party - Not Downtown
Having to book a party for a varied crowd of about 40. Bossman doesn't want it downtown.
Here's my list so far. Comments on your likes/dislikes appreciated.
Austin Land & Cattle
Eddie V's Arbr.
Reed's Jazz & Supper Club
Texas Land & Cattle
If there's any chance that the Bossman and crowd would be willing to drive to Spicewood, in my opinion, the Backstage Steakhouse is a much better choice for steaks than the national and regional chains discussed in this thread (specifically Z'Tejas, Saltgrass, Texas Land & Cattle) and Austin Land & Cattle. I haven't tried Eddie V’s, Mesa Ranch, or Cool River.
I worked at Saltgrass as an undergrad (hosting and waiting) and while their steaks aren't bad (and I sometimes still crave the baked potato soup that I lived on for lunches) I wouldn't put it at the top of the list. The atmosphere is hokey (we had the phrase "Texas Friendly" drilled into us....and we wore *gasp* bolo ties) and at least the N. Austin location is not as well equipped for a private area for that many people (I'm just guessing, knowing their layout). Again, for a chain the steaks are usually pretty good, but the experience will be average at best. I remember waiting on large parties also and we were highly suggested to up-sell the hell out of these groups....to the point that we would create non-existent "specials" at no reduced price just to get people to add on the extras like mushrooms and onions, lobster tails, and rattlers (a fried shrimp and cheese stuffed jalapeno). I can't say I'm proud.....but I was very broke at the time.
Just to comment on Saltgrass- they have all plunged in quality in the past 2 years (as have the other chains owned by that company), and it is most evident in them serving pre-processed/frozen steaks that are noticeably off in color and aroma when served. Hideous stuff. Outback Steakhouse is much better if you want to go the national chain route (and they still do a pretty decent steak.)
Eddie V's would be a good choice. Texas Land and Cattle too. The Texas Land and Cattle south on 35 near William Cannon is inexplicably not so great- but the one on Mopac near Zilker Park is pretty good stuff.
I have heard good things about Austin Land and Cattle, but one visit years ago was not so great. Still, the general opinion is strong enough that I would be reluctant to give it a thumbs down based on my one visit.
Have you considered Z-Tejas? That would be a good call.
My company had an XMAS lunch at Vin Bistro. There were about 30 of us. We had a choice of 3 different entrees. A tenderloin with a red onion demi-glace was excellent. Cooked to order. Other choices were a Fish entree. I was told it was very good, and chicken, I think, though no one at my table had the chicken. Worth checking into.
I had a positive dining experience at Vin also, although steak is really not their focus - I think there's only one on the menu. Maybe there's another section to the restaurant of which I am unaware, but would they be able to accomodate a 40 person party?
Of the choices you list above, I've been to Cool River, Salt Grass, Eddie V's, Reed's and Texas Land & Cattle. Of that group my top choice would definitely be Eddie V's. I've had steak there, and it was done very well - even if they do focus on seafood. Won't be a cheap place, though - better confirm the budget with the bossman. I'm not a big fan of Cool River, but they could easily accomodate that large a group without missing a step.