The restaurant is called Texas Land & Cattle. Surely you've heard of it; there are 22 of these steakhouses in Texas and some others in some other states. While DFW.com usually shies away from reviewing chain restaurants, TLC is connected to the beloved Hoffbrau Steaks, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year (the same family opened both but sold TLC years ago). And since the Arlington TLC just moved into a new location, its name has been boldfaced a lot lately, leading to a peek at the new locale near the Ballpark in Arlington.
We arrived at Texas Land & Cattle around 8 on a Friday night and were told there'd be a 10-minute wait for a table. This gave us a chance to soak up the atmosphere, which was decidedly less Texas, more Cattle -- people just standing around waiting to eat.
Now, there were a few Texas-themed decorations, like a big tin star and, kid you not, a framed picture of a manhole cover with the words "City of Arlington" on it.
The 10-minute wait turned into a 15-minute wait, then 20 minutes, then 30. Finally, we were taken to a booth, where we were presented with five-page menus comprised largely of meat dishes, which is generally how most steak houses roll.
They also usually employ young servers who, like ours, may not actually be familiar with the restaurant, the menu, the wine list, degrees of cooking steak, why the asparagus costs $1.99 more than the other sides, why it took 15 minutes for my wife to get her drink, whether the desserts were made in-house or how to hold a serving tray; otherwise, good service.
Shortly after being seated, we were given a complimentary sample of the restaurant's signature dish, hickory-smoked sirloin, cooked to a perfect medium rare. However, the smoked sirloin sliders ($8.99) were, warned our server, "just like Arby's."
The quality of the sirloin sample was so great, we couldn't envision it, didn't believe him and ordered the sliders anyway as an appetizer. And when they came, it was as if we'd ordered three Arby's Jr.'s -- the once red and pink meat was now darkened and sapped of its flavor by an extra-ordinary au jus. Can I get some Horsey sauce, please?
Next to arrive: our entrees. But wait, weren't we supposed to get our soup and salad before our entrees? Ah, yes, here they come, five bites into our entrees. This was about the time when my wife decided she did not, in fact, want to wear the chicken tortilla soup to the movie we were attending later and, quick on the draw, she leveled our server's tray just in time to save her hair from being doused in a nice broth and pulled chicken. Wife with the save!
For entrees, my wife had the quail ($15.99) and I tried one of the restaurant's new steaks, the horseradish-crusted sirloin ($16.99), served with a crunchy side of asparagus. Hats off to the cook for preparing the 9-ounce sirloin just as I had ordered, medium rare, but the horseradish sauce that blanketed the top was rather strong, and it took away from the flavor of the meat.
We did like the grilled quail; the meat was tender and smoky. It came with garlic mashed potatoes, which emphasized the garlic more than the potatoes but were still good nonetheless.
After we finished our entrees, we started on our appetizers. The chicken tortilla soup was quite good, filled with pulled chicken and Monterrey Jack cheese that had, by this time, hardened and tortilla strips that had, by this time, gotten soggy, in a simple broth. Likewise, I enjoyed my salad, a large lettuce wedge drenched in blue cheese dressing and bacon bits; luckily, this being a salad, it was already cold.
Because leaving now would have been like leaving a Michael Bolton concert before the encore, we asked our server to ask a manager about desserts. Manager swung by to deliver the good news: peach bread pudding is made in-house; it was excellent.