Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review of Van Horn Cattle Company

I know, you normally find great recipes and funny antidotes here but I felt I should warn those of you in my area about this place. A few weeks ago my friends heard me raving about this great steak house in Van Horn, Texas. Unfortunately, I was led astray. So read on if you live here, are planning a trip here (or in the area) or if you are in the food industry in any way. Maybe this will help to keep other places from making these mistakes.

A few weeks ago my hunny and I stopped in Van Horn for dinner after a day hiking Carlsbad Caverns and surrounding parks. Needless to say we were famished by the time we rolled into town. What was surprising though was the meal. A friend had told us to either stop at Chuy's or the Van Horn Cattle Company, those two being the best in town.

When we drove past Chuy's and saw the food being cooked outdoors, I had second thoughts. Go ahead, you can say it, I'm a food snob. Yes, I admit it. And being one has made it extremely difficult in finding a good place to eat at since moving to West Texas.  But on this day I had found heaven in the Cattle Company.

Upon entering I spied a gorgeous dark wood bar, a TV dinning room to our left and a more intimate dinning room to the right. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable as dressed well. I had high hopes for the food. I wasn't wrong.
I ordered the 8oz Top Sirloin with Grilled Asparagus and Bourbon Honey Carrots. The steak I was able to cut with my butter knife.  The asparagus (which is something I am just starting to eat) was grilled to perfection, not too crisp and not too tender. The carrots just melted in my mouth. I was in a state of shock! I hadn't had service/food THAT good since leaving Houston, Texas and steak hasn't been that good since my wedding night back in 96!
So it just seemed natural for us to make the hour long drive to Van Horn again to enjoy an early Valentines Diner.

We were seated with me facing the cook's window. Which really ISN'T a good thing when your cook is more interested in playing than he is in cooking. The first thing I noticed was the new menus. Now, I had just looked at the menu on their Facebook page before leaving, not the same menu. Everything had gone up and the took out stuff like the Asparagus and the tantalizing Chipolte Mashed Potatoes. Replacing them with Jasmine Rice (yes, Jasmine rice in a Texas STEAK HOUSE!) and Whipped Potatoes.  Even the carrots were missing!
The next thing I noticed was the rolls they bring out after you order. They used to have cute mounds of creamy butter in a plastic cup. Now they served rock hard butter packets you would find in any cheap dinner along the highway. So hard in fact, it tore through the rolls. 

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the cook is apparently training someone. He is showing her around the kitchen, chatting, laughing, showing her things on his phone... doing everything else besides his job... cooking my food! More and more people are showing up. There was only 3 tables to start with, all of which already had their food. 
We waited about 45 minutes to be served. Never saw the waitress unless she was taking another table's order. Once the food was finally brought to the table, disappointment reigned. We found out why the food took so long coming out of the kitchen. If the young man in the kitchen had really been doing his job (or so I thought at the time) we might have avoided this.

My hunny doesn't get seafood very often since I am highly allergic to it. So he had ordered the Salmon with Green Bean Almandine and the Jasmine Rice (the plate was set up this way on the menu, he had no choice in the sides). The salmon patty was very dry and over cooked. Even I could see that from across the table. The Jasmine Rice, was mushy and clumped together and the green beans weren't cooked at all, raw without the almonds!
Now on to my plate. I had ordered the same 8oz Top Sirloin, Medium Rare, with the Whipped Potatoes and Roasted Carrots. First thing I noticed before the plate even left the waitresses hand was, roasted does NOT mean burnt. Both ends of the carrots were black, with the middles mushy. The Whipped Potatoes were dry with lots of chives and a bigger portion than anything else on the plate. Then the steak. Major disappointment. The size of my first, he had cooked it so long it was curled into itself. Not a bit of pink to be found.

After about 10 minutes I was able to flag our waitress down and told her to bring me a plate to put the steak on since it wasn't cooked to order. I couldn't eat something the man had just murdered! After another 20 minute wait, where I had eaten my sides and my hunny had already finished his plate, my steak returned. Only it wasn't my steak. We are still not sure what kind of cut it was. Burnt on the outside and literally raw on the inside, it had a little bit of meat and nothing but fat. But it was large enough to cover my plate. I managed two bites before pushing it away. 

The entire time the cook glared at me through his window, ignoring other peoples food. I know this because every other plate that came out of the window was returned to the window to be recooked. 

We asked to speak with the manager and was told they didn't have one. 

At least the waitress took my steak off the ticket. But it will be the last time we drive out to Van Horn for dinner. 

Van Horn Cattle Company on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Terri,

    Your first post just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:

    I encourage you to claim your blog, which allows you to add a picture and change some settings. The blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Here's how to claim:

    - Make sure you're logged into Urbanspoon

    - Go to your blog page on our site:

    - Click "Claim your blog" in the left sidebar

    After you submit it, we may contact you to verify your claim. Check your spam email folder if your claim hasn't gone through in a day or two. You'll also find some interesting badges and widgets on your Urbanspoon blog page - look in the right sidebar.

    Let me know if you have any questions.