Friday, December 17, 2010

Rio Grand Steakhouse, 5501 Northland Dr NE - 12/8/10

Supposedly modeled after road houses in the West, this very large restaurant is divided into a good size bar, with booths and tables, and dining areas broken up into various sections. It’s a rustic atmosphere with cowboy and old western paraphernalia everywhere, including a lot of John Wayne photos.
There was no one around when we entered and we wandered into the dining room to look around. We took a seat in a small hall of booths and finally spotted a hostess. Our server showed up about ten minutes later and was quite abrupt initially, but he warmed up as we went along.
The menu is large and is an interesting amalgamation of southwest cuisine and seafood.  Many items have Texas or cowboy related names (e.g., El Paso Steakhouse Salad, Lone Star Double Cheese and Ham, Double Barrel Cheese Fries). You won’t find anything particularly innovative and there’s no notion of using fresh, in-season ingredients. But there are plenty of things from which to chose.

We started with the Rio Sampler that offered a Cactus Flower, Smokehouse Ribs, Double Barrel Cheese Fries, and Chicken Quesadillas, which caused our arteries to protest. We had to snag silverware from a nearby booth when the platter arrived, and it came with extra napkins, small plates, and a bone-bowl. It was listed as serving two to four people, but as an appetizer it was much more suited for four. The ribs came in a tangy barbecue sauce and were cooked to perfection. It was all good. Our server very kindly offered to divide and box up the leftovers.
Steak was emphasized on the menu so we both selected one but passed by the over $20.00 offerings and chose humbler cousins, a Kentucky Bourbon Sirloin and a Country Fried Steak.

The Sirloin was an 8 oz cut that promised a flavorful marinade. Garlic mashed potatoes with beef gravy and haystack onion rings accompanied the steak. Ordered medium rare, it arrived well done with no sign of a marinade. But the cut was still tender and the potatoes were great.
The Country Fried Steak comes as you know it will; the flavor is captured in the deep fryer. It arrived with garlic mashed potatoes, black pepper gravy, and haystack onion rings. The gravy was chicken based and heavily salted.
Opened in the 1990s by Schelde Enterprises, the restaurant has recently been sold to a son/nephew of two of the owners. He plans to expand and remodel, and to take advantage of the location on the Grand River by adding outdoor decks and a three-season screen porch. The website is being changed and not all menus can yet be found online.

It’s a down-to-earth atmosphere where you will get large portions of food with few surprises, and at a reasonable price.
Rio Grand Steak House on Urbanspoon

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