Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
Mar 29, 2010 03:22 PM

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse - A Cautionary Tale

I thought long and hard about my review for Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, because my mother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Well, in spite of feeling a bit bad, I decided to ignore dear old Mom and tell the truth about our visit last week.

The good:
1. The view – amazing. The restaurant itself is quite lovely as well, although it has “Texas flair” that I personally think is overused in our steakhouses.

2. The cocktails. I had the single best lemon drop martini that has ever graced my lips, and I’ve had one or two in my time. They know how to shake a cocktail.

3. My chicken fried elk. Not great, but definitely good. I wouldn’t travel all the way to the restaurant to eat it (I live close to plenty of chicken fried steak places), but I enjoyed it.

The bad:
1. The service. I am not saying this to be nasty, but I honestly think our waitress was (a) extremely sleep-deprived or (b) high as a kite. She stumbled over her words, had to read things off her notepad more than once, had difficulty articulating any thoughts at all, and then there was the topper. When I asked her about a particular bottle of wine, before she went off to find the sommelier, she said, “Let me go get the………..……wine guy. He has a special name.” [Insert your own joke here.] And she wanders off. I feel certain that her problems were too severe for it to be a case of new server jitters. For the record, the “wine guy” seemed quite knowledgeable and helped us select an excellent mid-priced Malbec.

2. The appetizers. The elk turbanados (I think that’s what they called them) were slices of elk on a cracker with some chopped tomatoes. The flavor of the dish was actually quite good, but the elk was tough. The crab cakes also had a pleasant flavor, but tasted mostly of cake, since there wasn’t much crab in them. The tuna tartar was tough and inedible. I don’t know if they’re buying bad quality fish or what, but tuna tartar should not be chewy. It was also a weird, pink neon color around the edges. Made me nervous.

3. The sauces. I only tasted my husband’s entrée, so I can’t speak for everyone else, but no one but me was pleased with what they ordered (2 rib-eye steaks, the veal steak, and the tenderloin topped with shrimp and crab; I ordered the chicken fried elk). Both the béarnaise sauce on the veal and the shrimp and crab sauce on my husband’s tenderloins were colors not found in nature – a bright orange that resembled something you’d pour out of a can. The shrimp were the tiniest I’ve seen anywhere; they were practically minuscule. For all that color, the sauce and the steak were decidedly lacking in taste.

Before I left work, a colleague of mine told me he put SRS beneath the Salt Grass in terms of food quality. I laughed and told him there’s no way I believed that. I was eating my words when I arrived back at work the next day.

Since I’m sure someone will ask, we did not share our feelings with the management at the time. I typically will only do that when I think there’s something management can do to rectify the situation. Sending back the bulk of the appetizers and all but one entrée (to eat what?) seemed impractical, and everyone was a bit concerned about what they might get instead.
As I said, the space is really beautiful, and the drinks are lovely. I really hope they can bring the service and the food up to the caliber of the gorgeous restaurant they have on their hands.

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd., Austin, TX 78732

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. txgrl99, i totally hear you on the don't-talk-to-mgmt-unless-mgmt-will-actually-do-something-to-help-the-situation.

    i don't eat a lot of beef, but it's strange to me that there is a dearth of good mid to high-range, non-chain steakhouses here in our lovely city.

    sometimes a girl just wants some beef!

    2 Replies
    1. re: dinaofdoom

      You're really right. I've heard Perry's is really good, but haven't been. The best steak I've had lately (by a mile) is at El Arbol. If we don't eat there, we typically just eat steak at home. It's one of my husband's go-to dishes.

      1. re: txgrl99

        I know this is off topic, but wanted to second the steak at El Arbol. Thought it was great and better than anything I've had in a while. I did think it was too pricey, but it was a very good tasting steak.

    2. Unfortunately, when we want a good steak we have to drive to San Antonio to Bohanan's; it's so worth the drive though.

      1. Yikes. Thanks for the in-depth review. For steaks in Austin I go to Austin Land & Cattle (N. Lamar), Perry's (omg the pork chop!!) and III Forks. I've also been known to duck into the Hoffbrau. My utmost fav is the ribeye at ALC - aged in house, grilled to your specification. Serious deliciousness.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

          Agree with Kaya - ALC is worth the trip. Sorry to hear about Steiner Ranch though. sigh.

          1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

            I keep hearing about the Perry's pork chop. I need to make it a Friday lunch stop. Thanks for all the good tips!

            1. re: txgrl99

              Both the rib-eye at ALC and the chop at Perry's are outstanding! Other than that, I really don't go out for steak since I can do it at home so well!

          2. I agree txgrl99....something has gone VERY wrong at Steiner. It is inconsistent at best. We have been there AT LEAST 15 times and even had a private party there. Up until about 3 months ago, it has always been mostly good. The past 5 or 6 times have really been between off and awful. The sevice is slow (we waited AN HOUR to get a drink last week.) And we DID talk to management - and the situation was semi-rectified, but no real aology and nothing comped. We took a family member out there after hyping the place like crazy and we were SO DISAPPOINTED, even embarrassed. The servers always act put out or just plain clueless about almost everything. ***Let me say that I am talking about the servers OUTSIDE.**** The view is truly beautiful..... and we really love Drew Womack that plays there. If I had service like that inside without the view or the good music, I would be outta there. So, my husband and I have decided that we are DONE. LAst night, he ordered a steak that had to be sent back twice and then we were charged TWICE for that steak. When we asked our server to change the bill, she acted like she did us a favor and comped us for the steak. WE ONLY HAD ONE STEAK AT THE ENTIRE TABLE TO BEGIN WITH. It was rather comical, actually. So, if you are looking for a happy hour with a beautiful view and crappy service, this is your place. I do not recommend trying to eat dinner out there. They just can't get it together, unfortunately.

            Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
            5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd., Austin, TX 78732