Hi all - I've been asked to find a steakhouse for my dad's birthday dinner. Last time I went to a steakhouse, the choices were Dan McCluskey's, Sullivan's and Ruth Chris' - we chose Sullivan's and it was nice barring a minor failure by waitstaff (picking up dishes from part of the table leaving one person eating slowly alone - an old school pet-peeve of my dad). Dinner was good, wine was good and souffles were very nice finish.
Now we've got Sullivan's, Vince Young, Three Forks, and Perry's. Has anyone got a good comparison to help choose between these four? Am I missing something critical?
Are the Brazilian steakhouses an option? Fogo de Chao or Estancia are both a good time but may not match the atmosphere you are looking for.
Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, Eddie V's and Austin Land and Cattle are others that I can think of but I haven't tried many of them so I can't provide any real comparison.
The now defunct El Arbol was my favorite steak in town and haven't really tried anything new lately.
Ssouth has got this; for "steakhouses" in Austin, ALC and Eddie V's are your best bet (and I don't love either of them). The best steaks in Austin were at El Arbol (closed) and Backstage Steakhouse (closed). (WTF?)
Re: cpencis' picks: Sullivan's was once quite good but has seriously declined; I recommend avoiding it. Three Forks is decent and overpriced. Perry's, same. I haven't been to VY but I haven't heard anything good.
This is exactly why I have a hard time recommending a steak house here- once you know how to do it at home...
To be fair, with this economy and the price of red meat (and Austin's obsession with low prices), a really great steak is hard to deliver since 95% of the outcome is in the quality (and cost) of the raw materials. High quality red meat- be it a filet mignon or fajitas at Chuy's- has been perhaps the greatest casualty of fine dining in recent years.
Right now Fabi and Rosi is the only place I would drop big $$ for a steak- and their ribeye is wonderful. Just ask for the seasoned butter on the side since at times it can be a bit overwhelming and you will want to have more control over it.
For a broader search, I can offer a key question to ask. When considering a steak house, call ahead and ask if they cut their own steaks or if they are sent in pre-cut and pre-seasoned. Also look for the presence of prime rib on the menu- that has to be done in-house (case in point- Outback Steakhouse where the prime rib is still pretty good even though the other steaks are dreadful and have been for years).
These days you will not often get the right answer to the "cut in house or not" question- but if you do get that answer, I think it is your best bet to have a go.
I've been to Perry's a few times recently and love it for special occasions. I enjoy the theatricality of the whole experience, from the glass walled wine room to the dark woods, velvet curtains, and dim lighting with candles.
Service at dinner is excellent - your waiter will be assisted by a small team of helpers. I agree that if you are just wanting to dine out Perry's is overpriced, but for a celebration they deliver an impressive experience. One hint is that even if they are a steakhouse, their best entree is not a steak but the massive pork chop carved tableside. If you end with one of their flambéed desserts such as the Bananas Foster, I've found the fireball of flaming rum a fun substitute for birthday candles.
Austin Land and Cattle on N. Lamar. Best steak I have had in Austin. It's the only thing on the menu, they better get it right!