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Published April 11, 2012, 10:12 PM

The EatBeat with Marilyn Hagerty: Hand-cut steak, free peanuts attract Texas Roadhouse diners

GRAND FORKS - When I’ve driven by Texas Roadhouse on 32nd Avenue South in late afternoon or evening, the place is always ringed by cars. It has been busy ever since it opened here five years ago.

By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald , INFORUM

GRAND FORKS - When I’ve driven by Texas Roadhouse on 32nd Avenue South in late afternoon or evening, the place is always ringed by cars. It has been busy ever since it opened here five years ago.

“Why?” you may wonder.

To me, it’s because of the moderate prices and the hand-cut steaks — and the ribs. Or maybe it is the free peanuts sitting in a barrel as you enter and in smaller pails on the tables throughout the restaurant. The place has appeal for families and people of all ages.

My waitress on my most recent visit was LG. Her name is really Lindsay, but there are so many Lindsays that she just uses initials. She was personable, helpful, not too much a bother — everything a server should be.

LG brought me a plate of the restaurant’s dinner rolls, which are served with very nice honey cinnamon butter, while I perused the very manageable menu. I was awaiting a friend, Sue Huus (SH).

When SH arrived, she chose sirloin steak, and I followed suit.

Because we were there before 6 p.m., we were able to order from the $7.99 Early Dine menu. With our steaks, we could choose two sides from the list that includes baked, sweet or mashed potatoes. Also house or Caesar salad, fresh vegetables, rice, green beans and buttered corn.

The sirloin had good flavor and was good enough. The green beans I ordered tasted good with bacon bits adding flavor. The broccoli and carrots were … well, broccoli and carrots. The baked potato SH ordered was a very good choice.

Our server was busy, but she was watching our table.

The place was very noisy and full of life, not your quiet dinner place.

The menu is, indeed, creative. Starters include fried pickles served with Ranch or Cajun horseradish sauce for dipping. And there are rattlesnake bites made from rounds of diced jalapenos and jack cheese, hand-battered and lightly fried. They also are served with the Cajun horseradish sauce.

You can order from a wide range of steaks. I noticed a 12-ounce New York strip for $16.49, as well as something called Road Kill for $9.49. Road Kill is described as 10-ounce chopped steak smothered with sauteed onions, sauteed mushrooms and jack cheese.

There are pluses and minuses. The service is good with a goal of 15 minutes for service. And the menu suits people who come hungry and eat heartily. But the dinner rolls that came with our meal were not baked long enough to be browned. They were a tad on the doughy side. There is an efficient routine at Texas Roadhouse to check in customers and offer reservations.

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