Rant Recall: Houston’s In Dallas

houstonLast month I wrote:

I don’t get Houston’s. Sorry, I have better things to do than to wait 45 minutes and pay $17 for a French dip sandwich. If I hear one more restaurateur describe a new concept as “it’s kinda like Houston’s but…” I will scream…There is some magic fairy dust somewhere in their corporate being. Somebody explain it.

About forty of you told me, quite nicely, where to shove my opinion. So I decided to give it another try. Jump for my love of Houston’s.We waited 45 minutes in the bar for a table. It was loud and crazy busy. We bumped into someone who hangs out there on a regular basis. He surveyed the u-shaped bar and said, “Jeez, this economy had better pick up. This place is really slow.”

The only other places in town that I know of with long waits for a table are Five Sixty and Cheesecake Factory (Perhaps P.F. Chang’s. I haven’t been by there recently.)

First up, a glass of Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio, a wine I have purchased for about $15 a bottle at Costco. At Houston’s a very healthy (6-plus ounces) pour is $10. It’s a great little wine for the summer, a little floral with a hint of pear and paired perfectly with our cougar-watching party.

Yow. Zah. Gals at Houston’s in Preston Center love their hair big and their make-up heavy. And their plastic surgeon. (Playing Spot The Nose Job is always fun.) Many of the cougars were hanging out with their cubs. It was nice to watch mothers and daughters hunt together. I guess this is one of the reasons why Houston’s is considered such a great family restaurant.

Service at the bar was phenomenal. Our waitress brought the wine bottle out for refills  instead of touring the room waiting to be flagged down. Once we were seated, the stellar service continued. Our waiter stopped just short of the hi-I’m-Larry-what-about-them-Cowboys approach. Busboys, managers, and servers all appeared and disappeared silently which allowed us to have a conversation. About Houston’s.

I still think the place is expensive—$13 for a cheeseburger and a couple glasses of $10 glasses of wine and you are in for at least $40 if you tip what Houston’s prints on their menu: “Minimum gratuity of 15% is customary and appropriate. For parties of five or more, we add 18% gratuity.”

I thought I’d throw them an unhittable fast ball to the inside corner of the plate by ordering aged prime rib. Rare. There are not many restaurants that can pull off great prime rib. (Anyone been to Lawry’s lately?) Especially restaurants with menus that don’t revolve around steak. But the slab of warm, pink, buttery beef surrounded by a half-inch layer of rich bubbly fat was shockingly sublime. The beef had been jacketed with salt, and each bite of beef finished with a swift, salty kick. I didn’t even touch the accompanying au jus sauce.

Leslie Brenner needs to hit Houston’s if for only the baked potato—the supple insides were already mixed with butter and topped with cheese. I never want to know the calorie count.

When the center-cut filet–two generous cuts of beef tenderloin–arrived overcooked, the waiter whisked it away and returned with the original order in a doggy bag and a fresh, perfectly prepared order for my friend.

Houston’s is now my dog Lulu’s favorite restaurant. And I am covered in fairy dust.

28 comments on “Rant Recall: Houston’s In Dallas

  1. I too am a fan of Houston’s, but I would consider the prime rib in the picture med-rare, instead of the rare you ordered.

  2. Enjoy the vet bill when Lulu comes down with Pancreatitis – unfortunately Prime Rib especially the fat is not good for puppies

  3. A+ on the passive-aggressive backhanded compliments.

    Here are the cliff notes for those who don’t have time to read the column.
    * Ugly, gross people.
    * Speedy, attentive service
    * Fatty, over-salted food that is fit for a canine.
    * Nancy still dislikes the place (and its ilk), and her original rant was vindicated.

  4. Rob, I gave her bites of beef tenderloin not rib eye and i spread it out over a week.

    PQ–sadly the rare was blanched by the flash on my phone camera. Didn’t have my real camera with me.

  5. I’ll have to try Houston’s prime rib on my next red meat day.

    BTW, is there something wrong with the prime rib at Lawry’s? I’ve never been.

  6. I went this Sunday at lunch. Noon, super busy already, but not much of a wait. My only complaint.. at the bar I always start out with a Greyhound because they use fresh squeezed Reby Red Grapefruit juice and it is just delicious!

    But to my disappointment, when it arrived it was just plain ole grapefruit juice. Blah yellow and not a pretty pink. When I asked about it… my little blonde waitress gal said, “Oh, we do not serve that anymore.”

    Ok, fine, but did she really need to go back to another “more seasoned” bar wiatress and say, “She wanted the pink grapefruit juice…”?? To which (and I SAW!) the other waitress ROLL her eyes and say, “Well, whatever, no one ever really complains.” Another eye roll and glance at me.

    I like what I like. Sorry. Wasn’t complaining, just asking.

    But, food and service once seated at the table was stellar as always. Eye roll or no eye roll over my fondness for the pink grapefruit juice.

  7. Speaking of Prime Rib. You beat me to it. Will be out this weekend eating prime rib instead of fried clams.

  8. Margaret, we had brunch at R&D (Houston’s sister restaurant around the corner) on Sunday. They had the fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice. The greyhound’s were $4 to boot.

  9. Nancy, I loved this review. You are a hoot!
    I really like Leslie Brenner’s reviews too but, she never made me laugh out loud!

    And btw, I’ve been a devout Houston’s fan ever since their first restaurant in Dallas opened on Forest Lane over 25 years ago.

  10. Thanks @Zman!! My inferior yellow one was 7 bucks!! Guess I know where I am going soon. :)

  11. Prime rib is what Houston’s is known for…at least it was in the ’90s when I frequented the Forest location. I’m glad to hear it’s still good eatin’!

  12. Idon’t think I have ever seen a food critic reverse a review, What kind os dog is Lulu?

  13. I know you probably don’t want to hear this because it requires driving an add’l 7 miles…but the Addison location never has too bad of a wait…I usually go at lunch time and if you get there before 11:30 there is never a wait. I’m not positive but I think the French dip is lunch priced…order it with the macadamia nut cous cous…divine!

  14. Houston’s is amazing. The atmosphere, service and amazing consistency keep me loving it. The house made veggie burger is one of my favorites. My only negative (outside of the wait) is the wine list isn’t very good. I have been going to Cafe R+D for similar experience and food, but very rarely a wait.

  15. If you “get” the Tavern at the Broadmoor, then you’ll get Houston’s.

  16. Addison Houston’s is awful!!!!
    Had a gift card, so tried it. No wait at 6:30 PM. Doubles from the bar not allowed. Hubby couldn’t get a second drink because wine bottle (opened at the bar – weird!) was already on the table. This isn’t an Addison rule – never had a problem at the fantastic Mi Piaci just around the corner.

    Food – mediocre at best. Fish was overcooked & over salted “Couscous” is actually mostly tabouleh – actually good tabouleh, but definitely NOT couscous.

    I don’t get the loyalty to this place…

  17. I’ll have to agree with “Dallas eater” on this one. The Addison Houston’s is a “poor cousin” to the Park Cities location.

  18. SOUNDS LIKE A ROADTRIP! I have to confess I didn’t know there was one in Addison. Twinwillow why are you called Twinwillow? Do you like willow trees? I love willow trees.

  19. Ahh, Nancy. My ex and I used to own a vineyard in Northern California.
    We had two beautiful large willow trees at the start of the drive up to the vineyard. Which of course, we appropriately named, “Twinwillow Vineyard”. Hence, my username.
    Thanks for asking.

  20. Houston’s in Addison will take reservations for parties of 2 (or less :( ) if you call in advance. Rotisserie chicken sandwich is always juicy…but I swear they add $1 to the price of the spinach dip every time we go…

  21. Nancy you crack me up – hunting in pairs – Great wildlife observation on habits of the Cougar

  22. Nancy you crack me up – hunting in pairs – Great wildlife observation on the predatory habits of the cougar!

  23. Very interesting article. Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old friend. He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good chuckle. Thanks for sharing! :)

  24. Pretty interesting post. Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old mate. He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Am sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing! :)