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Jun 19, 2007 06:18 AM

Houston Steak and Ribs - ever been?

What's the buzz on this place? I recall Joanne Kates absolutely decimating it with her review when it first opened but any change since then? I know it's a chain and corporate restaurants scare me - any place that refers to the food as 'product' is usually not on my list but it's near my office and my husband is a big meat eater. If he doesn't order steak then ribs will do. We need a place for an early dinner during the TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival. We have tickets for an event in Nathan Phillips square which is 'festival' seating so we want to be finished dinner early and be in the line-up no later than 7:00 to ensure a good seat.

Consequently, even though I work next door to Colborne Lane, we won't be rushing through that experience nor do we want to hurry through a meal at Jamie Kennedy's, which is just around the corner. We'll save those for another occasion.

I was looking for something closer to City Hall, but we've been to Baton Rouge (blech!!) and City Grill doesn't excite me. Nothing else in the Eaton's Centre would get me through their doors. I was leaning towards Jump or Far Niente but I've been to both and I don't relish being underground on a summer's evening at Far Niente.

What's left?

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  1. I've not been to Houston, but the word on the street definitely isn't good.

    But there are quite a few other well-known steak places in the immediate area of Nathan Phillips Square. Maybe the carnivores on this board could give more specific recs on the steak places.

    Hy's Steakhouse is near Adelaide and York St.

    Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is at 145 Richmond W., directly south of the square, beneath the hotel (Hilton?)

    Beer Bistro on King just east of Yonge, near Victoria, is not a "steakhouse" per se but they do usually have a few meaty specials, including ribs, steak frites, and even suckling pig on certain days. This place is a personal favourite.

    The Purple Pig on Richmond just west of Yonge has ribs (I like them okay, but I don't want start the "rib debate" again here) but the place is very, very casual and in my experience the service and sides can vary in quality -- a lot.

    And last and possibly least, there's a Keg on Church just south of Front St.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gary

      Hy's may be a little pricey for this occasion, likewise Ruth's Chris, but it's worth a thought given that it's so nearby. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Been to Beer Bistro - not that impressed, except by the beer list, likewise the Purple Pig - not the best ribs either, despite what they say.

      This Jazz festival outing is a regular summer thing of ours and we've been to nearly every downtown reataurant near the city hall venue,as you can see.

      I'm not big on the Church street Keg but there is the one on York Street and someone gave us a gift certificate a while back... Think I'll refer this once back to the carnivourous one and await his decision. Meanwhile, keep the suggestions rolling in.

    2. I haven't been there in a long time. I went there when it opened and I was hoping it would be good since it's in my neighbourhood but it was not to be.

      I would rank Baton Rouge as infinitely better than this place if that gives you any sense of the quality. It may have changed since I've been there but I doubt it. I believe it stays alive based on the huge bar crowd that congregates there every day at 5:00.

      Beer Bistro would definitely be a much better choice.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Aardvark

        Yoiks!!! Thanks for the warning. At 6:00 p.m. last night there were three people on the patio at Houston's but I put that down to it being a Monday night.

        My husband doesn't want a return visit to Beer Bistro so soon (we were just there for his birthday). I would do Baton Rouge again but he has a thing about family restaurants and the kids flinging cole slaw last time we were there was a bit much.

        What do you think of Gary's suggestion of Ruth's Chris? What about Le Bifteque?

        1. re: Higgette

          Avoid Le Bifteque at all cost - just an awful experience - cheap cuts of meat and they can't cook them as ordered.

          As for Ruth's Chris, they are now advertising some pre-dinner specials for around $54 per person.

          1. re: Pizza Lover

            Oooh...didn't know that. Thanks for the warning. Ruth's Cris has just always struck me as over-priced and ho-hum.

          2. re: Higgette

            You mind as well go to Keg rather than Ruth Chris or Le Bifteque. Keg has better steak with a fair price. How about Reds ? I had a very good tenderloin there.

            Had been to Houston for a business lunch on 33 Yonge. Prime rib is ok but Creme Brulee is horrible, I can see a layer of sugar in the middle !

            1. re: skylineR33

              I definitely would not go to Houston's. I've been several times, hoping it might get better, but it was bad every time. Both the service and the food were way below the standards set all around them.

              Lots of good suggestions above, though. Let us know what you choose.

              1. re: idnas

                I think Houston's is definitely off the list now. The suggestions have been most helpful; I need a place where we can be assured of fast service and a good meal but not one you want to linger over.

              2. re: skylineR33

                The Keg on York Street wasn't so bad; I've been there for lunch. I've been to Reds; didn't think of that one. I think my husband would like it. It's on the short list

              3. re: Higgette

                I think Ruth's Chris is a good choice and I have been to many of them throughout North America. Always consistent and tasty although at steakhouse prices. I don't think the Keg would be much cheaper though and I would rank it as a step down from Ruth's Chris. Don't bother with LeBifteque.

                1. re: Aardvark

                  Not sure if we are talking about the same Ruth's Chris in NA, but a steak at Ruth Chris ranges from $45 to $55 but all steaks in Keg are less than $30.

            2. Barberian's is reasonably close to NPS, though it's as dark inside as being underground

              under the circs, I'd go to York St Keg and sit outside (I assume you're walking from office to show) and order prime rib

              (there must be something in the water that makes kids throw food at Baton Rouge, its' shocking there)

              6 Replies
              1. re: orangewasabi

                I would say Barberians too if not for the darkness (based on the underground comment).

                I am a fan of Kultura, so that would be my vote given all that has been ruled out thus far.


                1. re: deelicious

                  Kultura is not bad of a choice but according to OP, her husband is a big meat eater ... may be that's why she wants to check out Houston in the first place.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    Then Harbour Sixty! My fave steak house in TO.

                    1. re: deelicious

                      I've long wanted to go there but a it's bit off the beaten track for this outing and a bit pricey too.

                    2. re: skylineR33

                      Yes, it was the spouse's red meat addiction that had me thinking of Houston's, plus I wondered how bad it could really begiven that I know Joanne Kates can be a bit extreme.

                  2. re: orangewasabi

                    Elm Street! Completely forgot that great little pocket of restaurants! That opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Thanks! Though we might want to cab it if we're going that far.

                    I rather think the flying food thing is more a reflection on the parents....