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|Out to Lunch
by Brian J. Lowney
While I’ll admit that I never listen to Country/Western music, my car radio got stuck the other day on some far-off station, and I was too concerned with the traffic to start playing with those quirky buttons.
"Oh, Home on the Range…" some lonesome hillbilly swooned, as my car fought the onslaught of nervy shoppers darting in and out of the traffic on busy Route 2 in Warwick. "Hey," said my enterprising brother. "I’m hungry and that song reminds me of some famished cowboy rustling up a juicy steak. Let’s go have lunch at the Longhorn Steakhouse." I agreed and since we were headed for the Warwick Mall, the Longhorn, located in the mall parking lot, was the perfect choice.
Once we were greeted and seated, our efficient wait server delivered a delicious loaf of hot fresh-baked wheat bread, just out of the oven, that came with a crock of dairy-fresh butter. Just as the crocus is a harbinger of spring, this delightful, addictive treat – no matter how many calories each slice contained – was to be the portent of a great meal.
After perusing Longhorn’s extensive lunch menu, I chose the "Black and Bleu Burger" ($6.79), a grilled half pound burger, dusted with the restaurant’s special "7 pepper seasoning," then topped with melted bleu cheese. The fiery seasoning, a nice blend that certainly packed a powerful punch without being overwhelming, was nicely balanced by the creamy, melted bleu cheese and proved to be an innovative way to present the traditional beef burger. My delicious burger, which rested on a fresh-baked Kaiser roll, was accompanied by a generous serving of seasoned fries and a cup of coffee. I was very happy that I had lassoed such a wonderful lunch, and subconsciously thanked that inspirational cowboy, whoever he was.
My brother rustled up the New York strip steak ($13.79), which the menu proclaimed to be "the steak lover’s choice." He wholeheartedly agreed and proclaimed his medium-well steak to be "cooked to perfection" and nicely seasoned. His steak was accompanied by a medley of colorful steamed veggies that included snow peas, summer squash, carrots and broccoli florets.
"This is a great lunch!" he said, adding that his steak was tender, well trimmed and a bargain at that price. "Take a small piece and try it," he suggested. "Isn’t it great?" I had to concur, but admitted that I was not disappointed with my luncheon choice. We’d have to make another visit to this popular eatery sometime very soon.
Longhorn offers an extensive luncheon menu with many exciting choices; no wonder it’s such a popular dining spot. There are several interesting starters – the spicy chicken and cheese dip ($5.99) caught my eye. From the menu description, this unusual appetizer might be a meal in itself, when accompanied by a garden or Caesar salad. This dip features diced roasted chicken in a creamy cheese sauce, enhanced by chili-lime seasonings, served bubbling hot with crisp tortilla chips and topped with chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and sour cream. I can’t wait to try this interesting blend of flavors and textures. Olé.
In addition to many steak and burger offerings, Longhorn also serves several fish, pork and chicken items, as well as some very interesting salads. For example, one menu choice, Atlantic cod ($8.99), features cod filets coated with seasoned breadcrumbs, seared to a golden brown and finished with a zesty lemon sauce. What a wonderful Lenten lunch! For the calorie conscious, there is a delightful salmon salad ($7.99) – a crisp garden or Caesar salad, topped with fresh, marinated Canadian salmon.
No restaurant could ever call itself a "steakhouse" without offering Baby Back Ribs ($10.49), which the menu notes is a "half rack of ‘fall off the bone’ tender baby back ribs, rubbed with Longhorn’s special blend of seasonings, slow cooked for tenderness and char grilled for extra flavor." Topped with the restaurant’s special BBQ sauce, these ribs are served with seasoned fries and jalapeno cole slaw. I bet that cowboy I heard on the radio would sing a happy tune with this great luncheon choice.
Another entrée that caught my eye was the Rocky Top Chicken ($10.29), a grilled chicken breast, slathered in Longhorn’s special tangy BBQ sauce and topped with a trio of cheeses (Swiss, cheddar and jack), hickory smoked bacon, diced tomatoes and green onions. Add some seasoned fries and a serving of Double-Jack beans and you’ll have a great lunch. Be prepared, however, to take home a "doggie bag"; the portions at Longhorn are very generous.
While my brother and I did not have room for dessert, the fried cheesecake ($4.99), was certainly tempting. Take a slice of creamy cheesecake, lightly breaded and flash fried, place it on a bed of plump strawberries and drizzle the confection with dazzling caramel and raspberry swirls and a rosette of whipped cream, and you simply have a dessert lover’s idea of Heaven. The next time we visit Longhorn Steakhouse, we’ll be sure to save room for such a happy ending!
Longhorn Steakhouse is located at 400 Bald Hill Road, Warwick, adjacent to the Warwick Mall. For more information, call 737-6943. Open daily for lunch at 11am. For more information visit theirwebsite.
Brian J. Lowney is a reporter for the Providence Visitor and the pet columnist for the Herald News (Fall River). He enjoys the wonderful Rhode Island restaurant scene and writing about the cornucopia of outstanding dining and retail food establishments we have been blessed with throughout the region.