Where America Eats: Texas Roadhouse
(Over the years Youngstown Eats has concentrated entirely on locally run restaurants. Going forward it will continue that local focus. Local cuisine is the best cuisine. That being said, the Youngstown area is finally catching up on national chain restaurants. Drive by any of them on a Saturday night and you will see packed parking lots. You eat there. I eat there. Some are good…others not so much. Over the next few months, in addition to local foodie articles, I am going to include reviews and articles on the national chains that we either love or love to hate. I call the series “Where America Eats.”)
Saturday night is meat night. Most Saturday nights my wife and I start up the KIA and head out looking for something carnivorous, hopefully Prime Rib…the roast not the steaks. There are lots of prime rib specials on Saturday nights in just about any restaurant whose door you would grace with your presence. But I can tell you that for the most part, I have had some really bad prime rib meals…either over-cooked, tough, grisly, or fatty. Very disappointing. I tend to avoid local prime rib specials. There are different quality of meats. Believe me…you can tell.
I won’t mention the bad places. I will tell you that the best prime rib I have had out anywhere is at the Texas Roadhouse, which is unfortunate because you have to gird your loins for the very daunting cultural experience!! I have to either plan my visits carefully timewise or take a hand full of valium beforehand!!
Texas might be in its name, but it was founded in a shopping mall in Clarksville, Indiana, by a guy named Kent Taylor and spread to Gainesville, Florida, and then to Cincinnati, Ohio, (where it failed, BTW). Along the way Taylor teamed up with a food manager named Jim Broyles. Broyles, in turn, established the standards that govern its operation today. Almost all of its steaks are cut fresh in house, never frozen. Same with its fish and chicken offerings. It also makes all but one of its salad dressings (which are outstanding. I like the Honey Mustard and French dressings). It has an on-site baker which makes these wonderful rolls served piping hot with honey butter. Betcha you can’t eat just one. Its 563 US restaurants are headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.
There are two locations in our area…Boardman and Niles. The Boardman location is as clean as a whistle. The service is prompt even on a busy night. The kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine. These folks know how to cook a steak. The times that I have there, they understand the definitions for rare, medium-rare, and medium. Normally when I order a steak or prime rib out, I order it a temperature under what I really want because almost all places tend to overcook the meat. Not here. Medium rare means warm red center. Medium means warm pink center.
The baked potatoes are not an after thought add-on. They are medium sized and well presented. Loaded means loaded. Salt is prominent on the skin which makes it oooo so good.
I had this caramel apple pie for dessert. That is a big Oh My God. The apples are actually cooked. The crust is wonderful. But what makes the dessert is the ala mode part…with this caramel sauce that is just poured over this huge piece of pie. It is worth going there just for the pie.
This past Saturday night there were so many people you couldn’t get through the front door to give them your name, and when you were finally called, to get through to the people who would get you to your table. All of these folks were crowded around a desk which is run by two very young people who looked bewildered.
The restaurant tends to attract large groups of people, all of whom huddle around the host/hostess station trying to get in. That station also is located very close to the kitchen door with waiters hauling huge trays of food through the throng of waiting patrons and those trying to get in and out which can be scary. They really need to do something about that. If there was an emergency and people had to get out of the building through the entrance door, there would be a major problem. It needs to be fixed.
It was relatively warm last Saturday night so we could stand outside while we waited…which was only about 20 minutes past the time on our call ahead designation. Wait time for those walking in was over an hour.
Going to a place like this, you get to see America. America comes with large families, pick-up trucks, lots of plus size people (I include myself in that category), some salty old ladies who love to smoke, lots of cute kids, yoga pants on people who should not be wearing yoga pants. But no matter how you feel about these things…it is America. That is what we look like. Go with the flow.
Texas Roadhouse is a huge restaurant operating on volume. That being said, the volume of the country music played in the facility is kept at a comfortable volume except when it is time for the wait staff to dance in the aisles…and the music is turned up to blasting. Notwithstanding the large volume of people eating there, there are no tin ceilings to reverberate the sound and enough cloth to absorb it…allowing you to have a conversation with the person across or next to you. Although the food service is prompt, the very capable wait staff does not rush you through dinner.
I have never had bad meal here. And like I said…it is the best prime rib I have ever had anywhere (only available on the weekends). But I am claustrophobic, and don’t like to have to work so hard to get in to eat. If you are the same way, I suggest go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night or a middle afternoon repast on Saturdays.
Yippee eye oh kaya.
1221 Boardman Poland Rd, Youngstown, OH 44514
Monday 4 - 10 PM
Phone: (330) 726-1100
Reservations: relevantmobile.com (Call ahead seating)