Posted on Friday, 7th November 2014
In Texas meat is king and nowhere did I experience this more in Texas then in Austin. Dinner one night was a steak meal at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, an American chain that had its origins in Austin some twenty years ago and is therefore an Austin institution. Alongside its hearty selection of steaks is a varied selection of seafood starters and mains dishes as well. Side dishes are also plentiful as is customary in a US steakhouse.
To start your meal at Sullivan’s I would thoroughly recommend the ‘knockout martini’ ($11), the Sullivan’s signature cocktail. This is made using Clementine vodka, infused with fresh Hawaiian gold pineapples for two weeks and it is this long slow infusion that provides the martini with its ‘knockout’ flavour. This martini easily deserved its signature cocktail status as it was delicious, beautifully sweet and yet delightfully refreshing.
Seafood starters on the menu included a jumbo shrimp cocktail ($16.50) containing five pieces of firm and reasonably tasty shrimp served with a well made cocktail sauce. Another seafood starter of shrimp and lobster bisque (bowl – $9, cup – $7.50) bore more similarities to a chowder rather than a classic French lobster bisque with a rich lobster flavour. It was pleasant in taste, and also a little spicy and would therefore offer a certain appeal for the most typical of American palates.
From the steak selection, a filet mignon (8oz – $36.50, 12oz – $39.50) was cooked perfectly to the requested medium rare and came beautifully charred for a caramelised flavour. The steak was supremely tender and very flavoursome. There was a choice of sauces to accompany the steak, with the grandest option being the ‘Oscar Style’ upgrade that comes with lump crab, asparagus and béarnaise sauce ($10). The sauce was fairly creamy but the crab did little for the dish as it was quite bland. But in truth, the steak didn’t need the sauce as the quality of the meat was so good.
As tempting as the classic side of Mac’n’cheese was, I opted for a slightly less calorific side of shaved Brussels sprouts ($7.50). Americans seem to have a great touch when it comes to cooking Brussels sprouts and at Sullivan’s it was no different as this side dish was absolutely delicious. Beautifully seasoned, the sprouts were served with caramelised onions and bacon which added great flavour to the dish.
A dessert of S’Mores mousse pie with graham crackers and toasted marshmallows ($8) was a dream with a beautifully textured, rich and creamy chocolate filling. The cracker base could have more buttery, but this was nevertheless a delightful way to end the meal.
The winning dish of the evening was the steak. The seafood dishes were respectable but lacked finesse in their execution and so meat should therefore be the preferred choice from the menu. Also not to be missed were the incredible S’Mores dessert and the fabulous ‘Knockout’ martini. Looking beyond the food, there was also much to like about the Sullivan’s accomplished, warm and effusive service. The décor looked a little tired, but Sullivan’s is still a solid steak option in the heart of the Texan meat country.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.75/5
Prices: $40 to $84 for three courses, excludes taxes, drinks and service.