118 Elgin St, Carlton
Disclosure: I was generously invited to dine as a guest of Longhorn Saloon’s, however I will never endorse a place I wouldn’t pay for my own meal at, and the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience.
A few months ago, husband and I visited Longhorn Saloon for dinner, to celebrate his birthday. We landed on Longhorn because they do American BBQ-style food, and have some serious Southern charm; it took us right back to our time in New Orleans, chowing down on well cooked meat and listening the the Rebirth Brass Band over the sound system. We went with a pretty basic dinner, enjoying a brisket reuben and a cheeseburger, but spent some time eyeing off the other offerings, and promised to return to try out more another time.
Fast forward 4 months; we’re planning our next big adventure, including a return to New Orleans, when I receive a very timely invitation to return to Longhorn, where menu change is in the air and they’re getting some exciting new plates on the menu. We were lucky enough to sample a few dishes, starting with the smoked brisket nachos (Le Bon Ton pit smoked brisket, grilled cheese, pico de gallo & crema), which I didn’t expect to love as much as I did! I’m usually not a fan of mega loaded nachos, because you just end up with soggy chips, but the majority of these chippies stayed crisp the whole way through. The brisket, as you’d expect, was amazing – soft and tender and falling apart. I’m a big fan of Le Bon Ton’s brisket anyway, so I was stoked to get to try this. Special mention to not only the grilled cheese, but molten, melty cheese on top of it – perfect.
Next up, we were presented with a newbie – the Cajun Dog. A flame grilled, proper Andouille sausage, just like the stuff we ate in New Orleans, in a perfectly soft hot dog bun (I mention this specifically because I’ve had a few rubbish “hot dogs” recently in cardboardy rolls, and that just doesn’t cut it) with slaw and a hot Cajun mustard. At this point, I should also mention that husband had the Rogue Dead Guy Ale recommended, a German maibock beer from Newport, Oregon, with buttery, brioche notes. Hot dog and beer. His two favourite things. They had no way of knowing this, but my God was he stoked! For the beer drinkers, he wanted it mentioned that this was the best new beer he’s had in…. he couldn’t remember. Highly recommended. But the Cajun dog – it tasted like New Orleans! While the mustard was a bit strong and hot for me, that Andouille sausage tasted just like the one we had at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.
With the dog came the steak; the 300g New York strip steak (served with mashed potato, green beans and jus), to be exact. We were told that the New York strip steak, coming from that area behind the ribs in the short loin region, gets a pretty good run in the US and the UK, but not so much in Australia. We were also told that pit-master Jeremy, however, is a beef specialist, knows hit cuts, and knows exactly what to do with them. Very evident upon cutting into the buttery soft steak, still nice and pink inside, and well rested. It’s not a cut I’d have ever ordered ordinarily, but husband and I both agreed that we’d both eagerly return for it should we be craving a good steak. It’s amazing how good a little known cut of meat can be in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing.
And, of course, despite incredibly full stomachs we couldn’t leave without dessert – enter this little piece of heaven. Chocolate brownie topped with coconut encrusted ice cream, swimming in a little pool of liquid heaven. While hot dogs and beer might be the husband’s favourite due, chocolate and coconut would be pretty close to mine, and this really hit the spot. The brownie (warmed up, thank you!) was thick, fudgy, suuuuper chocolatey and full of crunchy walnuts. That ball of ice cream was perfect to break up the thick chocolate brownie and sauce, and toasted coconut is never a bad idea!
I was stoked to get back to Longhorn, and will gladly keep heading back – the service is friendly, genuine and helpful, the setting is gorgeously Southern – homely and welcoming with a touch of fancy at the same time. And the food is fantastic. It’s generous, warm, comforting and both times I’ve eaten there now, it’s taken me right back to the food I ate in New York and New Orleans : )