Why go “Outback” when you can get Salt Grass? : Salt Grass Steak House by Catherine Ray

Katy, Texas
2003

April 2004–There is this lady who goes to church with my grandparents, her name is Atha Marks Dimon, the eldest daughter of E. H. Marks. E. H. Marks was one of the four original cowmen who made the first (or inaugural) Slat Grass Trail Ride. This trail ride takes place every February, it starts in Brenham, and ends some 70 miles later in Houston. The very first Salt Grass trail ride took place in February of 1952. In case you haven’t already guessed the Salt Grass Steak House is named for this trail ride. Texans are known for their pride and their steak. It’s like gravy’s’ potatoes, peas’ n’ carrots, and peanut butter and jelly: you can’t have one without the other. And what better place to get good steak than at the Salt Grass Steak House?

The Salt Grass steak house I always go to has the smell of wood, and feels like a very big living room, with a big fire in the hearth. When you first walk into Salt Grass you’re greeted with a warm friendly smile. The servers are dressed in white collar shirts with a Bolo tie and black slacks. In front of the desk where you’re greeted there’s a waiting area, with cast iron arms and varnished dark wood. There’s also another waiting area outside on the wraparound deck.

If the Salt Grass is really busy you could have about a thirty to forty five minute wait. If you’re waiting outside, it can get really hot and humid, but at least you’re out of the smoke. If you’re waiting inside, the waiting area is in front of the entry way and to the left of the smoking section of the restaurant. In the smoking part there are about eight tables in two columns, they seat about four to six people each. The only thing that cuts the smoking off from the nonsmoking is a big wooden partition with openings at both ends. So the smoke drifts out, and mingles with all the other smells and gives everything a hazy dark feeling. The smoke stings your eyes if you sit right next to the partition, (unless you’re a smoker, then I guess you’re used to all the smoke) the further away you sit from the partition you sit, the less smoke you get. When you’re seated, not in the smoking area, you pass by the bar, which you can see from the smoking area. The bar starts at the far end of the of the nonsmoking side of the petition, and wraps around a little bit of the corner. Right by the bar on the far right wall, is the kitchen. Part of the kitchen is in the restaurant area, it’s where they put the orders to be served, and the rest of it is behind two tall stainless steel doors.

Besides the smoking area, the main part is divided into three sections. The main section has a really tall light golden brown wooden ceiling. To the left is another petition with big windows like holes with no glass and in front of you is the third part and the farthest from the front. The lighting is low, it has a hazy red glow, you almost can’t see the menu, if you go in for dinner. All the tables are bright mahogany polished to a perfect sheen. Mounted on the walls are heads of dear, longhorns (one named Bevo), stuffed rabbits, a Buffalo, license plates and other memorabilia that represents Texas.

When you are seated, they ask what you would like to drink right away. When they bring you your drinks they also bring along hot bread with honey butter. The bread is brown with black flecks in it. When you cut the bread, it is soft and warm and tastes like honey, after you put the honey butter on the bread. Before they bring your drinks, you look at the menu and try to decide what you want from baked potato soup to the Trail Boss steak dinner, the smells of the foods float out towards the tables. It smells like your mom’s kitchen.

While waiting for your food you look around and see families, couples, and friends eating together. You get the feeling that all your troubles don’t matter while you’re in Salt Grass, all that matters is that you’re enjoying your food and the people you are with. I remember the first time I ever went to Salt Grass, I was about eleven and we had just come home for the summer. It was in the afternoon and it was also the first time I ever had a Caesar salad. Before I went to Salt Grass I liked steak before, but after I ate there I loved it, and every chance I get I eat at the Salt Grass steak house. This steak house is the only Steak house I had ever been to,( until about three weeks ago) and this is the steak house my entire family goes to, so there are a lot of good memories from this restaurant, that’s what makes it so special to me. Most people who have been to Salt Grass steak house like it because it’s a friendly environment and there is good food. Most people go back at least once after their first visit.

When your dinner arrives the smells float up to your nose and mingles with the smells already in the air, but you can distinctly smell your steak, potatoes, or what ever you ordered. Depending on what you ordered your food could be presented in such a way that you can’t tell which food is which, until you taste it, or you can tell what is what just by looking at it. The house salad and the Caesar salad look just like everyday normal restaurant salads. The potato soup is yellow with green and red specks in it, the top looks smooth, like there are no potatoes in it, you only see the potatoes after you stir it a little bit. Most of their steak is separate from the mashed potatoes, vegetables, or any other side order. The steak dinners always look nice and professional. The steaks are cooked the way you want them, so you don’t have to worry about the cow mooing at you, unless you want it that way. The deserts rage from a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream with a cherry on top to key lime pie.

As you come to the end of your meal, you feel as though you can’t move (they give you that much food), they bring the deserts out from the back. From cake to brownies to ice cream they have everything. They have this one desert that just rises above them all; the Fudge Brownie Sunday. It has a fudge brownie on the bottom with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup with whip cream and a cherry on top. It is the biggest and the sweetest of the deserts, and from what I hear their key lime pie is really good too.

I recently went to the Steak house, because I was staying at my grandparents house for the weekend and I had the opportunity to talk to my waitress. Her name was Nikki and our conversation was basically friendly chit chat. I also got to ask her a few questions about how she liked work there and it went something like She really liked working there because most of the people were around the same age, so they could relate to each other and it was fun. Most of the people that you serve are really nice. When I asked her about working there she asked me if I was thinking about working there, I said no and told her about the paper I was writing. After that the talk turned to traffic and other everyday things like the weather.

After you have eaten your dinner and your desert you are so full that you feel you can’t walk and you think “Hmm, maybe I should find the bathroom.” That would probably be a good idea, you know start working off those pounds that you gained in the past hour. After you walk past the bar and the smoking and nonsmoking sections you get to the bathrooms. When you get into the bathroom you go into this really big peachy colored, nice, and very clean normal restaurant bathroom. The tiles are white, so are the sinks, with sterling silver faucets and white porcelain handles. The stalls don’t go all the way down to the floor, but they go down far enough to where the cover everything important. Even though this is a bathroom, it smells like a fresh newly cleaned bathroom that has never been used before. Now I’m not sure about the guys bathroom , but I believe that it is just as nice as the ladies bathroom. And most of all it is quiet, when the bathroom door shuts all the noise from the restaurant are shut out. So after your finished washing your hands and ready to go back to your table, you turn and walk towards the door and it says men on it. But that’s when you realize that they were just having fun trying to make you believe that you’re in the wrong bathroom. It was kind of cute you think as you leave to go pay your bill. After you finally pay your bill and leave a tip, you walk out into the Houston air with a smile because you just finished a good meal with nice people at a great restaurant. That’s why you go to Salt Grass and not Outback.

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