Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lone Star Steakhouse makes its lone stand in Orlando: a review

With 84 restaurants nationwide, Lone Star Steakhouse is a major player in the casual dining arena. With only one location in all of Florida, however, Orlando's Lone Star stands alone to battle the Longhorns and Outbacks of Central Florida.

And they're in the battle to win. Recently remodeled, Lone Star's dining room eschews the cowboy/ranch aesthetic to present a pleasing, modern decor with a Texas twist. I enjoyed the tasteful (for a Texas-based steakhouse) dining room and was pleased to find servers in slacks, rather than jeans.

The service, too, was a pleasant surprise: attentive, knowledgeable and helpful. Janell, a long-time server at Lone Star, was so willing to please and downright friendly, that I felt I was at a neighborhood restaurant rather than a mile or two from Disney on busy SR 535. It's rare to find a server who cares when the restaurant caters to tourists who, more than likely, will never be back.

But the true test of a steakhouse's grit is in the food...

My guest and I started with the Coconut Shrimp ($8.99) and the Filet Mignon Queso ($7.99). The shrimp were well fried in their coconut hair suits and of average size. The accompanying sweet pepper dipping sauce made the bare minimum of an impression and was passed over after a dip or two. The Filet Mignon Queso piqued my attention with the addition of bits of tenderloin in the white cheese. With bits of jalapeno, onion and cilantro as well, I found the queso quite delicious. If only the chips had been less of the "open up a bag" variety, this would have been a real winner of an appetizer.

With whetted palates, we marched along to our salads as accompaniments to our steaks. I chose a traditional Caesar Salad, and my guest chose the Signature Lettuce Wedge. I've found much happiness in my dining life over the simple joy of crisp, green Romain lettuce, a nice Caesar dressing, grated Parmesan and a few croutons. The Lone Star Caesar Salad was no exception; I very much enjoyed it. My guest's wedge salad was fine, but no standout, with its low-dressing-to-lettuce ratio. Who's ordering this on a diet? Slather the wedge with dressing and blue cheese and onto the breach.

Impressed so far, next up were our steaks and the main culinary battle.

I almost ordered ribs, but this is a steakhouse review, so how could I? I decided on a nice 8 oz. filet mignon but then saw a 6 oz. USDA choice center-cut sirloin was available with a half rack of baby back ribs. Figuring I could compromise and order both, I went for it. Upon ordering, I was advised by our server that I could instead choose a 6 oz. filet and ribs, even though the option wasn't on the menu. That sounded perfect.

The Filet and Ribs ($24.49) were fantastic. The steak was cooked a perfect medium and easily fell victim to a slight slice of the knife. I loved the charring on the edges and the mesquite wood edge to each bite. The ribs were perfectly sauced in a tangy/sweet concoction, and the meat, well, fell right off the bone. I hate to use a cliche, but how else can you describe great ribs? My side of garlic mashed potatoes was thick and loaded with skins and bacon and cheddar (add $.99).

My guest chose the 14 oz. Texas Ribeye ($20.99) with sauteed mushrooms ($2.49) and a side of mashed potatoes with added bacon bits ($.49). The Texas ribeye is one big steak. As it sat on the plate, it was hard to imagine it being just 14 oz.

This time cooked to a nice medium rare, the steak oozed juice and flavor in the single bite I was allowed.

After all this food, we declared our battle against hunger won, but decided to retreat in the battle of the bulge by ordering a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake ($6.49). As good as anything you might find at Cheesecake Factory, we forced down a few bites before giving in.

All in all, I was very impressed with Lone Star Steakhouse. Although certainly a large percentage of its patrons are tourists, local Orlando residents shouldn't be afraid to dine here at all. In fact, if you're out its way, say shopping at Orlando Premium Outlets, or dining before hitting Downtown Disney, I say give Lone Star a chance. You'll find friendly service, a pleasant environment, management that cares, and some darn good steaks. And all this for a reasonable price. Yes, a reasonably priced steakhouse near Disney.

As the only outlet in Florida, this is Lone Star's Alamo. Remember the Alamo.

Note: I dined complements of Lone Star Steakhouse.

4 Lone Stars out of 5

Lone Star Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


Orlando Florida Villas said...

Great review. I've found in this past that this steakhouse can be very popular with tourists - but, the service is always good and you can't argue with the food and the prices. Fantastic value and very tasty.

Best wishes, Alex

Julia said...

I've heard of this place from colleagues and they loved it, glad it got such a raving review. I spent a lot of my time in Palm Bay, nearby to Orlando but the drive is quite short. I might have to check this place out the next time I am in the area. I love Palm Bay, such a great place and right on the coast too! I love staying at the Palm Bay Hotel ( Affordable as can be and not too far from Orlando!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? You reviewed lonestar? They must have mysteriously taken care of the bill right?

Al Pastor.