Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Christner's Old-School Portions, Atmosphere Lacking

I am still having trouble making up my mind about Christner's Prime Steak and Lobster
(formerly Del Frisco's) after dining there last week. It's not that the food and service weren't great; they were. I just think the atmosphere and food did not match my expectations of a great steakhouse.

The decor of the restaurant threw me off; the old-school 80s style leather booths, red rug, and dark surroundings are just not what I'm used to seeing in the current restaurant environment. Also, the oversized portions - and prices to match - are not what is happening in leading independent and chain restaurants across America. Guests are now more interested in trying a variety of small plates for $5 to $12 each, rather than the huge portions given at traditional steakhouses.

For example, the Shanghai Style Fried Calamari appetizer was a huge portion - enough for two or three people - and was $16. We couldn't have tried other apps because of the price. Still, the appetizer was drizzled with an unique sweet and spicy sauce as well as hot peppers and cilantro, that made this a really tasty dish. I would definitely recommend it.

The entrees are also overpriced, for their quality, at between $35 and $57. I understand that these prices are not out-of-line for an upscale steakhouse, the dishes just need to be perfect to match the prices. My husband had the 16 ounce Prime Strip steak ($47), which was large enough for two people. The waiter did not ask how he would like his steak cooked, so it needed to be sent back. The pepper crust on the steak was overpowering, so we could not enjoy the taste of the meat as much. Don't get me wrong: the steak was delicious, just not nearly the best steak we have had.

I ordered the seafood of the day - grouper - which was delicious. However, like the steak, the Cajun rub on the steak was overpowering. I love when restaurants honor the fish and the seasoning complements the seafood. Again, the portion was enough for two people. We really loved the mashed potatoes (with flakes of peel, they tasted so real!) and the asparagus.

I would also recommend the desserts at Christner's. The Mandarin Orange Cake, which is very popular there, had a great flavor. The orange sauce that you drizzle over the cake is just right. However, since it is a pound cake with heavy filling between the layers, it is definitely a heavy dessert to end a steak meal with. Again, it is a dish for two, three or four people to share!

While the food at Christner's was pretty good, the prices may limit some to visit just on special occasions once or twice a year. Also, the outdated decor doesn't make someone my age (Generation X) or younger customers such as millennials feel comfortable. Do you agree? Please post your comments below.

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