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Nov 13, 2007 01:56 PM

Reasonably Priced Steak

I realize that is an ambiguous title, but I am looking for a steak for tomorrow evening for my wife's b-day. While I have found several threads here regarding the best steaks in town and read reviews from the "professionals" none of them talk about a "budget steak". Sure, we can go to Finn & Porter, 3 Forks, Flemings, etc... but we are trying keep the meal price to a reasonable amount. Don't get me wrong, I am not looking to go Ryan's or anything, but we have been underwhelmed by Texas Land & Cattle, Outback, etc...

I am looking for a good steak at a good price. I checked out Backstage, that seemed somewhat reasonable and I know MPH spoke very highly of it. Any other recommendations or should I just try to book a reservation out there for tomorrow night?

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  1. I am still looking forward to trying Backstage... I haven't made it yet.

    I did try a tenderloin at Mesa Ranch a few weeks ago and thought it was very, very good. It was cooked to a prefect medium rare as I requested and seasoned nicely. I doubt it is prime, which Backstage serves, because I don't recall seeing that on the menu.

    The salad and sides were nice, as well, though liberty was taken with the Caesar and it's not the traditional cheese and croutons. I think the meal started out with some tasty compliementary cornbread and we tried the cactus appetizer, which was fun but not much flavor to speak of except in the dipping sauce.

    I really like this restaurant. They have live music (check for specific date because I can't say if it's everyday or not), good service and a quirky sort of Texas ambiance which is cozy, not typical touristy loud Texas. I think they have some early dining specials, too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rene

      I forgot about Mesa Ranch. Hmm... now to decide, there or Backstage?

      1. re: Rene

        Family went to Mesa Ranch for our son's birthday. 2 of us had the tenderloins and 2 had the cowboy ribeyes. Both were cooked to perfection and for the price of the steaks, I would highly recommend. We had the roasted red pepper soup and cheese stuff poblano pepper with grilled shrimp for starters. The soup was the best stuff I have tasted in a long time. It was thick and creamy and just sweet enough to be good. Parmesan cheese and just a hint of bacon flavored it. The pepper was good, but not as good as the soup. Disappointed in the side salads. Croutons and lettuce?? also not much flavor in the tequila ranch dressing. Cactus shaped cornbread was good and moist. Cheesecake for dessert - just ok. But, the steaks were great.

        1. If you truly want a budget steak, you can't beat Texas Roadhouse. They are actually very tasty steaks! If you go between 4-6 you can get 2 NY strips with 2 sides each for $15
          I think they usually run about $15 each and are very well seasoned.
          THey also have a full bar and beer and wine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: amykragan

            Can you elaborate on "very well seasoned"?
            I went to Texas Roadhouse one time, a homage to Willie Nelson (part owner of the chain). The meat we were served was covered with so much salt that we vowed never to return.
            Is it possible that you enjoy more salt than average, or did I go on a bad day? Maybe I should give them another chance?

            1. re: amykragan

              The wife and I have tried Texas Roadhouse a couple times and haven't been impressed so far.

            2. Give me an idea of your budget. I'll try to help you out.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tom in austin

                Oh, I dunno... $70-80 or less for the whole meal would be nice.

                1. re: craveytrain

                  You can definitely get out of Mesa Ranch for less than that for steaks. Not sure about that price with "adult beverages."

                  1. re: exlnghrn

                    Neither of us are big drinkers, so when I say whole meal, I suppose I mean, maybe an appetizer, 2 entrees with associated sides, salads & a dessert or 2.

                    So the question left I suppose is which is more recommended, Mesa Ranch or Backstage? The menus seem to compare pretty well price wise.

              2. My favorite steaks so far that I've had in Austin both fall in the reasonably priced end of the spectrum:
                - Mesa Ranch bone-in Ribeye
                - Carrabba's Filet Fiorentina, with the "Chicken Bryan topping" - a round of goat cheese with sun dried tomato

                but for a birthday I'd drive to Backstage based on mph and others' comments. Especially given the Chocolate Malt? Cake description!

                8 Replies
                1. re: sweet100s

                  Yeah, that's kinda what I'm thinking. The reservation has been made so I think that's where we'll go.

                  Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

                    1. re: Rene

                      Ok, here's the lowdown. First, let me set the stage. We were there for my wife's b-day. I enjoy my steak medium rare, with lots of juice. My wife typically burns her's (I have worked her down to medium well) and smothers it in A-1. Yes, she is sufficiently harassed about that.

                      First off, the bread is crusty, fresh and warm. The butter is a poblano shallot butter that, well... we ate 3 loaves of bread smothered in the stuff. Awesomeness.

                      For appetizer, we got the crab cakes. This was possibly the low point in a great meal (which is to say, it was still good). 2 cakes, mostly lump crab with diced onions, very little bread crumb (if any). The crab was fresh, the sauce it was on was very good (a sort of homemade sweet and sour with fresh ginger and some sort of pepper flake). But, for $10, 2 crab cakes was a bit light. They were good, they just didn't move me.

                      Now, the steak. Considering how my wife orders her steaks, we asked the waiter what cut he would recommend, he recommended the 12oz ribeye for her. That was the perfect cut for that type of cooking. She didn't even ask for A-1. In the 5 years I have been dating her, I have never seen her eat a steak without A-1. Not only did she eat it without A-1, she said it was one of the best steaks she's ever had. This is a huge endorsement.

                      I got the 20oz bone in ribeye. While pricey, that is a beautiful piece of meat and they cooked it to perfection (med rare). Very tender, slight crust on the outside, but not a crispy char. Lightly sprinkled with salt & pepper. That's it.

                      For sides, we both got the sauteed mushrooms and agreed these are some of the best we've had. They are sauteed enough to take on the flavors, but so so much that they got mushy. They were on the plate (as opposed to in their juices in a cup). They were light peppered and were sauteed in some sort of red wine reduction (or at least the sauce was deglazed with it).

                      The mashed potatoes were light, fluffly, supposedly cheddar (I didn't taste any cheese) but good. Not great, but definitely good.

                      The baked potato was good, simple, well done, not too dried out. Honestly, imho, it's kinda hard to mess it up unless you just really dry it out, but they were done right.

                      My wife got the jack daniels pecan pie. This is good stuff, very good stuff. Chocolate pecan pie. Get it warmed with ice cream (tasted like bluebell, which is not a complaint).

                      I got the malted chocolate cake. Good, chocolate cake, but honestly, I was more moved by the pecan pie.

                      The meal was a really great meal and she loved it (which was the important thing). We ended up going a bit over budget ($98 + tip, it was the bone in ribeye I got, it was way more expensive than just about everything else on the menu) but it was a really great meal, worth every penny, imho.

                      1. re: craveytrain

                        I have to get there soon! What time was your reservation and can you describe the vibe (for lack of a better word)?

                        1. re: Rene

                          Our reservation was for 7:30. It was rather vacant, but honestly, during the week, a place like that in a small town out there, I can understand that. I imagine they do booming business on the weekend. Their marquee says they are now taking holiday reservations.

                          As for vibe/ambiance, etc... it's somewhat fine dining, except, they are in a small town. So the hostess is wearing a nice dress, the waiters are all in white button downs and black pants, and most of the patrons are in at least business casual, but there is the occasional group that is more casual (jeans & Ts). The decoration is seemingly taken from their days as caterers, lots of music related paraphenalia (I didn't get a good look, but they have a signed guitar up front that looks like it's signed by the Eagles). Each booth's small artwork are small promo hand outs signed by the band members. Our booth had Glass Tiger, Starship and a very complimentary letter from the Oak Ridge Boys.

                          As for vibe, it's rather quiet and has a formal restaurant vibe, but the establishment's setup is a bit more rudimentary (simple padded benches, etc). It may be louder on a more crowded night.

                          Hope that helps.

                            1. re: craveytrain

                              I finally made it to Backstage!

                              We went with another couple on a Sunday night. A phone call confirmed that it was Chef's night off, which is often the case. We went anyway and that wasn’t the best choice.

                              We arrived an hour before our 5:30 reservation and the place was empty of customers. That was okay as we were dining very early and wanted to have a drink in the bar before being seated. The bartender, Jeffrey, was terrific. He knew a lot about the restaurant and we could tell that he really enjoyed being there.

                              When it was time to be seated, we didn't know this but Jeffrey had already arranged a table for us. We had a view of the sunset and the table was perfect, as was the service which fluctuated between fine and outstanding.

                              We all ordered beef and, of the four of us, I was the only one disappointed. The salads were all good; Caesar, spinach and house with blue cheese. We shared a porterhouse that was 18 oz. and around $35 and the other couple had the larger cut on the waiter's recommendation. They had baked, we had mashed and we all had the mushrooms.

                              Though the porterhouse was cooked perfectly medium rare, it was a skinny steak, maybe half an inch, so I found it rather flavorless except for all of the excess salt. The baked potato was good, the mashed were not. They had so much garlic and salt that it overwhelmed the rest of the meal - and I tend to like salty. Everyone else enjoyed the mushrooms but I did not. For dessert we all shared a slice of coconut buttermilk pie which was outstanding - I'm not much for sweets but this was really tasty.

                              The restaurant was full (with a mix of regulars among the “visitors") when we left and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

                              I'm looking forward to returning when Chef is in.

                              1. re: Rene

                                Two great deals for Prime Rib lovers, Sullivans Prime time Sunday night $30 gets you the wedge, 12oz prime ($1/oz over) side and desert. Cool River had a similar deal for $25 on Thursday or Friday.