Out with the old and in with the new is the case with Saltgrass Steakhouse on International Drive in Orlando.
Saltgrass is new to the Orlando area, but its parent company, Landry’s, isn’t. You see, they happen to own several restaurants that appeal to the tourist crowd such as Rainforest Cafe, Yak & Yeti, T-Rex Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Joe’s Crab Shack, Landry’s Seafood House, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, and Morton’s Steakhouse.
The first Saltgrass in Orlando opened in 2018 in what was once a Lone Star Steakhouse at the entrance to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. It wasn’t long after this location was up and running that they decided to close their American bar/restaurant concept, Brickhouse Tavern + Tap on busy International Drive, and turn it into a Saltgrass.
Both the Lake Buena Vista and I-Drive locations are surrounded by other steak restaurants including Longhorn and Outback which makes me wonder how successful these two new restaurants are going to be.
But everyone loves steak, right?
Well, not everyone. Sorry vegans.
I decided to give the Saltgrass Steakhouse on International Drive a shot so I hopped in the car and off I went. I’ve been to Brickhouse many times in the past and it was really only busy when a convention was in town, so I was interested to see if things have changed.
I arrived around 8:30pm to an empty restaurant. I mean empty. There were four people at the bar, two of which left shortly after I arrived leaving just me and two others.
Not much inside the restaurant has changed while the exterior was given a bit of a western makeover. The first thing I noticed was the scant selection of booze behind the bar. One thing that Brickhouse had going for it was a nice selection of whiskey and bourbon – including Blanton’s.
Two bartenders were working behind the bar – one taking care of guests while the other cleaned in anticipation of bolting and getting out as soon as the clock struck 10pm. At least that’s the impression I got since he never even acknowledged my presence with a simple “hello.”
The other bartender presented me with the menu and took my drink order. I decided to give their Barrel Aged Manhattan made with Angel’s Envy a shot.
She quickly whipped it up and it wasn’t bad. A tad bit sweet for my taste, but overall a good Manhattan.
I started off with the Sauce Trio – roasted tomato salsa, salsa verde, Queso Fresco, tostada chips – $5.49.
The chips were house made as some were crispy, some were limp, all were hot and fresh. The sauces were average, nothing special about them. The most noticeable thing about this appetizer was the amount of salt on the chips. Holy sodium Batman! Someone was heavy on the salt shaker when these things came out of the fryer.
The salt made me want to quench my thirst, so another Manhattan was ordered.
Onto the mains. I ordered the 12oz New York Strip ($27.99) with a side of green beans, sauteed onions ($6.99) and a wedge salad ($3.49 upcharge).
The salad came out first and was huge. I asked for it without the blue cheese crumbles and ranch dressing and had them add balsamic dressing instead. The salad was fresh, crisp and the dressing was tasty.
Next came the steak. It was cooked medium and topped with the sauteed onions – definitely not $6.99 worth of sauteed onions, however. While tender and cooked the right temperature, the cook with the heavy hand on the salt shaker struck again. The steak was way over salted and to be honest, salt is all you could taste.
The green beans were no different. First off they were overcooked to the point where the color was drained out of them, they were limp and salted so heavily, grains of salt were embedded into the skin of the beans.
I had to order a beer to quench my thirst.
For a steakhouse, I would think they would know how to properly season things. Obviously from my experience that is not the case.
They definitely put the “salt” in “Saltgrass.”
My first visit was a complete disappointment. With at least four other places to grab a steak within walking distance from Saltgrass, they need to up their game in order to get people in the door and more importantly – come back.
An empty restaurant, an unwelcoming environment, and only one of two bartenders happy to be working isn’t a place I want to come and have dinner at. If I want to go to a place like that, I’ll go to Bar Louie.
Brickhouse Tavern + Tap was much better. Sorry, Saltgrass.