Well, we have a favorite place to go for Japanese (Kiku), now we have a favorite for "crowded noisy steakhouse with line-dancing waitresses" - Texas Roadhouse.
I am not a steakhouse person. I'm not really a steak person. And why there's another steakhouse right around the block from Lonestar (another Texas-themed one, at that!), I don't know. What I did know is that some union has been giving Texas Roadhouse free advertising in the form of "Don't eat at Texas Roadhouse!" protests. From what we've gathered, whatever union it is has their knickers in a knot because they didn't get the job of building it. Personally, as fast as that place went up? I wouldn't be advertising that my union DIDN'T build it, you know what I mean? It went up at speeds I didn't know a building could. Whoever they did hire was GOOD. And this one union is having a whole big temper tantrum. I mean, billboards and everything. To the amusement of those of us on whom reverse psychology works very, very well. "Hmm, Texas Roadhouse - so they're open now? Wonder how the food is!"
Well, as of this morning, despite our Illustrious Leader's best efforts, we still have a fairly free-market economy. So we decided to take our economic power out for a drive and see how Texas Roadhouse is as a restaurant.
Oh. My. Gosh. More expensive than we normally eat, but worth every single penny. I can say nothing negative. They opened at 4, we got there at half past, and the wait was already 40-50 minutes. And people were waiting with nary a complaint. It's been open a week now - obviously word has gotten around that it's worth the wait. The girl who took our names down was on the phone for some time when we first came in. When she hung up, she said, "Oh my gosh, I just took a call from a party of 23! I've never done that before!" Extremely cool touch - a huge barrel of peanuts at the counter, just there free for everyone who was waiting for a table. And little paper bags you could fill to take outside, as half the line was indeed outside.
And we did get to our table not much at all over our estimated wait time. We'd already settled on what we were getting, and it came to our table fast. We had a WONDERFUL waitress, Melinda. She was fast, friendly, and while spinning between tables, she stopped to ask KITTYBOY how his meal was going. "Everything good, little man?" His mouth was full of fresh-baked bread ("baked every five minutes") - he was on cloud nine. A kid's meal is under five bucks, and definitely not toddler-size - most of it came home. Macaroni and cheese with fries. Kittyboy was too busy looking at everything to eat - playing peekaboo with the people in the next booth, signing "Go-go-go!" at the baseball players on the television, dancing on the bench to country music (a vision I will purge from my retinas somehow, lest I go insane), and flirting like mad with the waitresses. All of whom gushed and gooed over him. One caveat - this is a totally goat-roping, boot-scooting, line-dancing, yeehaw COUNTRY restaurant. I heard Garth Brooks at least once. Ewww. But the food makes up for it. And as rabidly as I am NOT a Garth Brooks fan - that says a lot. We're already planning and budgeting when we're going back.
The nuts and bolts, for those in the Springfield area who might try it:
Appetizers - $4-10 ($3 for a cup of chili, everything else $4 and up, but a decent amount of them are in the $4-6 range)
Sides, a la carte - $2.29, all of them. Big long list. Oh, and they have sweet potatoes on the menu. You can get it with marshmallows and caramel (disgusting, if you're me), butter and brown sugar, or just butter. I don't know when or where I last saw yams, as such, on a restaurant menu. I got a salad with HOMEMADE bleu cheese dressing, which is quite a different thing than jarred, and "fresh vegetables", which that night was steamed broccoli. My palate is not a trained one, but I can tell you that broccoli had never seen a freezer. It was fresh, steamed until barely done. I should have ordered some to go.
Entrees, ALL of which come with two sides - you can spend $9, you can spend $20. I got "Road Kill", which is a big chopped steak burger, basically, with cheese, mushrooms and onions. Heavenly. Nine bucks. AND, if you order a steak, you can order it rare, and they WILL cook it rare. They have a little warning on the menu that eating undercooked meat has its risks, blah blah blah, and they will cook your steak absolutely to order, any way you like it. As someone who prefers my meat "seared and not mooing, but not cooked any further than that," that impresses me, because so many places won't cook it any more rare than medium well. They also have chicken, ribs, and seafood. And a vegetable plate! We could go during Lent! Though we wouldn't, that would be painful. We would order it to go.
They also have burgers and sandwiches, all of which come with fries, $7-8.
Seriously, if you're in central IL? Go to Texas Roadhouse. I can't say enough good about it. You just have to go there. I went to tick off a ticked-off union - and found a steakhouse I love. Swine are winging their merry way over the ice skaters on the frozen lakes of Perdition.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Infomercial over.