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Steakhouse heavy on portions, taste

May 30, 2004|by E.T. MOORE

The steak is cooked to satisfaction, meat falls off the barbecue ribs, and peanut shells are at home on the floor. These are good signs for a steakhouse that embraces Western themes.

And Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon, tucked in a plaza off Railway Lane near Valley Mall, is such a place.

The decor is rustic with lots of unpainted wood; there's a heaping barrel of peanuts in the bar; and the menu categories are aptly named: Praire Teasers, How the West Was Won and Little Big Horn Favorites. There are more than 10 different ways to sneak steak into dinner. For people with more carnivorous cravings than a Tumbleweed Steak Salad can satiate, there are plenty of variations of sirloin, backed by a ribeye and a porterhouse.

And there's buffalo.

Alas, neither I or my dining companion tried the buffalo. We had no particular sympathetic leanings toward the creatures. Instead, we only wanted to stray from the mainstream once - for alligator.

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To start the meal, we ordered Gator Tail for $6.95 and a plate of Miner's Cheese Fries for $5.95, and we weren't disappointed.

I'd like to be more helpful, but all I can say is it tasted like chicken, albeit good chicken. The fried reptile was perfectly breaded not to overpower the substance of the appetizer.

For the majority of the menu items we sampled, the portions were sizable. They seemed to grow as dinner progressed. This may have been more of a function of our early gluttony with the cheese fries. Although the pile of thick steak fries were over-cooked, generous helpings of melted cheese, bacon and scallions, and ranch for dipping, made the appetizer more than edible.

A rather dull broccoli and cheese soup came as a choice with my appetizer. It turned out to be a good thing, because I needed to save room for Steak and Shrimp ($16.49).

The five jumbo shrimp were lightly breaded and fried. The ribeye came out bright pink in the middle, which met my request for a medium steak. The cut had its share of gristle, but there was plenty of flavorful meat, which allowed me to holster the steak sauce.

Crazy Horse entrees come with choices that include fries, baked potato and mixed vegetables. I opted for the vegetables, a tasty medley of squash, peppers and more.

My friend chose an entree of Steak and Ribs - oddly with more fries ($16.49). The ribs received enthusiastic approval with moist and tangy meat. The steak was judged as bland with little explanation before being bathed in hot sauce that turned around a thumbs down. I expect this is a personal preference that should not reflect on the cook.

What should reflect is the fact that neither of us had room for dessert, and we were not lamenting the fact, despite one known sweet tooth at the table. The restaurant does have a small dessert and children's menu, and a lunch menu is available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

One complaint is that the restaurant is a little dark for my tastes. The wait staff appeared to be in high spirits, but the atmosphere in the restaurant during a recent quiet afternoon did not inspire jovial conversation.

Our server was polite and attentive to begin the meal, but he did not return to the table to check on our meals after dropping off the food. This proved not to be a problem since he loaded my rib-eating pal with napkins and condiments, and the rest of the food needed no help.

One warning: If you order the tall beers at Crazy Horse, that amounts to 32 ounces of beer in a mug that a softball might fit into. You've been warned. We were not.

The two beers understandably brought our tab to about $59.

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