Put the napkin in your lap and pull up to the table with Eau Claire's Hungry Italian as he provides the area's only true Restaurant Review. Don't have another family night ruined by poor service. Find the perfect spot to take that special online someone on the third date that has romance commingled with value.
EATING ESTABLISHMENT Texas Roadhouse
DINING DATE Friday June 5, 2020
MEAL TIME Dinner
ATTENDEES IN PARTY 4 (2 adults, 2 kids)
TOTAL BILL - $50
Ordered 12 oz Fort Worth Ribeye, House Salad and Green Beans
Some choices in life don’t have a clear delineation. How do you know what the right college choice is? You know when you know. What about love? You know when you know. How about the perfect career or job choice? You know when you know. Granted, there are many with opinions but truthfully there is no clear-cut correct answer and many of us have been thrusted into making such determinations over the last few weeks.
Something as mundane and entertaining as dining now carries a bit of a deeper meaning. When Wisconsin’s mandates were pulled and dining rooms began to open the images of packed bars and local images of some restaurants with full parking lots clogged social media. The truth was, and remains, many residents have remained hesitant. Like sliding your body awkwardly into a hotel jacuzzi after seeing a large party of hairy individuals just exist.
It’s not political, it’s not medical. It’s almost a sense of…”is it right” more so than “is it safe”. We want to feel normalcy, even if it’s “interim-normalcy”.
So that brings us to the Hungry Italian, who after two months of self-cooking and the occasional delivery, made the determination to head out with the family. The choice of Texas Roadhouse wasn’t incidental as it’s a favorite spot and being a national chain, it felt a better first step for an initially in-person visits (spare us the ‘local’ angle because the individuals who work at national places live here too).
We’ve already established here that Texas Roadhouse is a good value and the meal on this evening was no exception. The ribeye steak was flavorful and came out medium (always order one level BELOW what you want at a Texas Roadhouse, that’s not as old wise-tail but truth). An appetizer of tater skins was perfect in that they truly are potato skins with cheese and bacon. A gooey, crispy, salty treat. Too many times, places simply cut a baked potato in half, scoop a little out and fill it. That’s a loaded potato, not a potato skin.
The Hungry Italian’s son even enjoyed his first restaurant steak, a big moment for the eight-year old and his hunk of dead cow was devoured making for a proud mommy and daddy.
However, here we want to establish what to expect on the visit and does it accomplish the goal of making one feel joy. Not safe, or secure but joy. When you eat out, you want to feel happy and the “big moment” feeling of dining out is likely to be returning. The Hungry Italian firmly believes people will be dining out less but spending MUCH MORE per visit.
Upon arriving you encounter the worst part of the visit and honestly, this day start the “comfort” factor in a less than encouraging hole. A staffer wearing a mask and bright yellow vest (looks like you’re entering a testing site) stops you. They inform you that if you don’t have a reservation it’s likely a 10 minute wait and to park the car, send one individual in to give a name.
That is an inauspicious start, but minus that everything else feels exactly the same. You don’t forget things are different but it doesn’t disrupt enjoyment or focus either. Think of a kids theatrical play where life size cartoon puppets are handled by humans wearing dark suits. You see them there, but it’s only distracting if you want it to be.
We didn’t have a reservation but after our one person entered they quickly signaled us that they in fact had a table. Once you enter, its EXACTLY what you’d expect and that’s a good thing. TVs have sports on, there is lots of noise and the dining room is packed with a caveat. Texas Roadhouse always looks packed and that remains that way even though every other table is not in use. Only half the restaurant is used but the atmosphere remains unchanged and possibly even better (pre-COVID Texas Roadhouse could induce a claustrophobic feel).
All staff have masks, but are superbly friendly. You don’t think anything about it. The days of complimentary peanuts are over and if one wants condiments you have to ask but otherwise there is nothing that makes you feel as though you’re “taking a gamble with your life” coming to eat at this place.
The unused tables have indiscriminate markings on them but they aren’t noticeable.
On this dining visit, there were young families, older couples, big groups and small groups.
It was an enjoyable time with the family and harkened back to the feeling dining out used to be and that of being a “special” thing as opposed to something you always did, or do simply because you don’t want to cook.
SECOND HELPING Absolutely yes.
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