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Oct 9, 2007 11:14 AM

Ramblin' Jacks 'Lonestar' - Olympia/Lacey

After a 30min wait to be seated at the nearby Japanese Steakhouse restaurant in Lacey, we decided to try the new Lonestar restaurant, known for being the second restaurant opened by the owners of the downtown Olympia Ramblin' Jacks.

Sadly, I was disappointed. For starters, there was A LOT of background, kitchen noise that I shouldn't be hearing.

Also, the bar was completely open to both dining areas, adding the bar noise to the kitchen noise. Employees frequently delivered plating and glassware to the bar, I assume, because the bar neglected to have it's own cleaning system or washing machine. I know of a lot of restaurants that do this to help reduce the amount of traffic being directed through the dining area. In my opinion, it's incredibly unattractive and tacky to see bus boys running back and forth by your table, delivering supplies to the bar.

Second, the waitress got one of our orders wrong, not that it mattered. Both dishes, plus appetizer, were unappealing and bordered on disgusting.

My BBQ pork sandwich was greasy and sloppy and the garlic potato side dish I chose was cold. The last I checked, your patrons don't want to be wearing their food after they leave your restaurant.

My guest ordered, what she thought was a mushroom burger, but turned out to solely be a mushroom sandwich. All mushroom. To me, it looked disgusting. She picked at it daintily, but left it uneaten. I guess looks, in this case, were not deceiving.

The appetizer was the prawns. Now, granted, the prawns were decent, but the appearance was not. The cook/chef simply threw five cooked prawns into the middle of a plate, drowned them in some strange, brownish sauce that covered the entire dish and then line it with four pieces of the cheap focaccia bread we were first given to nibble on as we waited for our dinners. That last thing I need or want is more bread. For a $10 appetizer, I would have expected more effort. Yuck.

Strangely enough, despite my subpar experience in Lonestar, the restaurant appeared to be PACKED. Business was doing well. Either the residents of Thurston County have an inexperienced palate or high tolerance for shoddy restaurateurs. I'm afraid, the fact is there just are not that many good restaurants in the area to choose from.

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  1. Surprisingly, the best brisket sandwich I've had in the Pacific Northwest was at Ramblin' Jacks. Truly, I was not expecting anything close to remarkable - it's tough to find anything even similar to proper smoked meat or barbecue in WA state. But I was pleasantly surprised that the brisket was pull-apart tender, with a nice smoke ring and just enough of a hit of sauce.

    And if you were wondering whether or not I'm talkin' out of my ass on the BBQ, fear not. I grew up in Kansas, and have a firm grasp on KC, TX and Carolina styles. I've driven all over this state looking for decent barbecue.

    Perhaps it was just an off day at Ramblin' Jacks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nordicfraley

      There is a decent BBQ in downtown Olympia that just openeing up recently near the old Safeway and almost right across the street from the downtown Ramblin' Jacks. Also, there is a good BBQ (I like the BBQ chicken sandwich) out in Tenino that I frequent.

      Rcallner, are you referring to that old, nasty looking Seoul restaurant out in Lacey? I think it's been there for 200yrs! It looks a bit scary to me. Are you sure I won't be served anything toxic?

      1. re: Shiggy

        Yep, Well, past Lacey, in Tanglewilde, near Norma's original burger-topped joint but on the other side of the street. Old, nasty-looking. Delicious. Try the octopus, chap chae, bulgogi, but it's mainly those nice little dishes at the beginning that can float your boat. Mostly Koreans and ex-military eat there....And you're right - not for the faint of heart.

      2. re: nordicfraley

        I frequent Lone Star quite a bit; I drive from Seattle every other Monday to take my daughter out to dinner (the in-between weekend she spends with me in Seattle), and usually Lone Star is what she clamors for. There a few other restaurants in that area, and while I've had a couple of questionable salads at Lone Star, their barbeque is great. Their sauce is unique, and their smoked meats are something! I've had great service (Thanks Ray and Kelliray!) and okay service. If you're gonna get dessert - creme brulee. They knock that one out of the park.

      3. You know, there's a basis for the old South Puget Sound saying, "Lacey s_cks." There's just not a whole lot there. Of the related 3 restaurants, Mercato's is the most reliable, always good service; Ramblin' Jack's next, poor old Lonestar a distant, trailing third. Completely a different pot o' stew, but if you go further down Martin Way past Osaka's near Tanglewilde, on the right, there's the utterly unattractive-looking Seoul Restaurant, with tasty and daring Korean dishes. Off the beaten path, but reliably good which is, I admit, not the norm in Olympia.

        1. I must agree regarding your review. I have actually been there 5 times or so because I live very close and every 6 months or so I forget just how disappointed I was before, and I go anyway. Probably not again though. I have had some decent and some poor service there. TWICE out of about 5 times there, I was asked to move to another table after already being seated. Once we were seated by the hostess in the "bar area" without ever asking to sit there. After a while someone came and carded us and since my wife (age 32) did not have her ID (she does not drink and we didn't realize we were going to a "bar") we were moved to a really dark, almost spooky side of the place (the N side) with not even enough light to see your food. Service is generally OK to slow.

          The food is always OK, but never great. Check that. Once we got a calzone that was frozen in the middle! They greatly reduced their menu during the past year sometime, and the few dishes I liked (or that sounded good) are no longer on it. Food is definitely not worth what they charge. The BBQ meat is really no better than Ramblin Jack's, which is not that great. Also, I am totally over the pizza crust bread they serve you.

          The one item I can't complain about is their beer. They have some pretty good micros on draft.

          If you are wondering why I went back so many times, some of the visits were not my decision and others were just my pure optimism. But not again.
          "fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

          1. I have eaten a RJ's to many times and at the Lonestar. My experience with the Lonestar was like shiggy's but several months ago. RJ's has mediocre food and I can't figure out why it has such a good reputation. From the days of lack of choice, I guess.

            recallner: As for "the old South Puget Sound saying" it is exclusionary and pejorative. It was in poor taste when it was first said and it is in poor taste to keep repeating it. The people in Lacey are attribute for attribute no different than the people in Olympia or Tumwater.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lewarner

              "Exclusionary and pejorative"? There is no logic in your statement. Obviously recallner knows Lacey well enough to point you in the right direction for restaurants he/she likes, and knows Lacey well enough to know the saying, "Lacey Sucks!" Anecdotally I can vouch for people in Lacey being different: they ALL drive like little old ladies! You can't catch a light for nothing when driving around in Lacey! And please, it's McMansion hell the way it's going.

            2. Two good Lacey restaurants, Curry Corner (Indian) and Cebu (Philippine), were already mentioned in this thread:


              Neither looks very promising from the outside since they're located in a little dreary strip of storefronts dominated by a gas station but both deliver where it counts with authentic and delicious food at good prices.

              Curry Corner has a lunch special where you can sample much of their best offerings for under $10 while sipping some of their yummy hot chai. They also have a little area where those who feel inspired to try to create some Indian dishes at home can purchase Indian grocery supplies.

              Cebu is surprisingly pretty inside and the owners could not be more personable and friendly. The food has been simple and homespun but good if you like Asian food.

              In a big urban city they probably would not be considered the most stellar examples of international cuisines but here in the South Sound they are little ethnic treasures in a culinary desert.