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Leave Lone Star well enough alone

Food isn’t worth bother — even if kids eat free

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Kids eat free on Tuesdays? I'm on it like a bonnet!

I know you folks in Midvale already know about a place called Lone Star Steak House, but when one opened in Sugarhouse and announced its special deal, I said, "Honey, let's round up the younguns and git us some steak!" How does a deal get sweeter than that? (I'll give you a hint: Kids who stay home also eat free. . . . But that's a topic for another day.)

We all sat down and ordered appetizers for us and entrees from the kids' menu for our kids. They chose mac 'n' cheese, a small steak and the chicken fingers. Typical stuff, but it seemed to be plenty for them with fries or baked potato, a refillable drink and ice cream after.

Appetizers for us were a sampling of Lone Star's spiciest wings, cheddar and bacon, filled jalapeo poppers and a fried blooming onion thingie. Again, typical stuff. Enjoyable enough. Not out of this world, but not bad for out of the freezer. The wings weren't very spicy for being the hottest of three levels . . . not like going nuclear at Wings 'n' Things, by any stretch. And the onion was as greasy as Texas tea.

At the Lone Star, they serve free peanuts in buckets and keep 'em coming. It's a fun distraction for the kids, which for us was a good thing, since the kitchen was a bit sluggish that night.

Since we had other family with us from out of town, I sampled more of the entrees than usual. There was smoked prime rib with Texas style rice (read wimpy Rice-a-Roni), chicken breast, ribs, filet and salmon. Of all the meats, the filet, cooked medium-rare, was the best, but they all had a pre-packaged texture, especially the ribs, and not a whole lot of their true flavor. The chicken and fish were disappointingly dry.

Sides accompanying these entrees were serviceable. The butter-loaded baked sweet potato was a refreshing change from steak cut fries, regular baked potato and mixed vegetables. I also had one of those silly iceberg wedges with bleu cheese and tomato. I've never been able to get the point of those, other than their being an excuse to load up on bleu cheese.

Dinner wasn't a total bust; I wouldn't say I was tortured. I just think you can get fresher food for your money elsewhere, with more care and attention given on the spot to the way it's cooked.

Dessert was interesting. I tried the key lime pie. It was a prefab thing, but rich and tasty. Without a little more whipped cream to take out the sting, though, it was too rich to finish. Still, it was far better than the peach cobbler my husband tried. It had a soggy cobble, and the peaches had such a strange flavor that we just kept tasting to try to put a finger on it. Best I can figure, it was some faux liquor taste. Anyway, he didn't finish it, and I didn't blame him.

Lone Star has sort of a "Sizzler Deluxe" feel to it. Some things seem better, such as not being herded around like cattle, but in the end it's still a prepackaged deal. I say, don't get within a country mile of this Texas roadhouse.

It's a pity, though. The Lone Star has a fun theme going with a good family atmosphere and good service. But there are better values to be had in the valley, and the way I figure it, better food is always a better value, even if the kids don't get to eat free.

Prices for appetizers range from $6-$7, salads $4-$8, lunch entrees $7-$10, dinner entrees $10-$21, dessert $3-$4.

Lone Star Steak House

** (out of five)

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Location: 1206 E. 2100 South, 466-1968

Payment: checks, major credit cards

Reservations: none needed

E-mail: stephanie@desnews.com