If you’ve wandered around downtown near the Austin Convention Center during SXSW, then you’ve walked right past Vince Young Steakhouse. Longhorn football fans no doubt recognize the restaurant’s namesake, but even they wouldn’t know this is a family-run, locally owned and operated business founded in 2010. Husband and wife Phillip (Executive Chef) and Laura Brown named their establishment after friend and ex-University of Texas football heavy-hitter, Vince Young, whom Laura’s father mentored at UT.
You can find a cheaper steak in Austin, but you’ll have a hard time finding a better one. If you manage to take a breath and put your fork down to look around, you may be most surprised by the atmosphere. While the decor is upscale and the staff members excel at customer service, ’60s and ’70s tunes play across the speakers and festive groups feel no pressure to talk in hushed tones.
The Vince Young Steakhouse summer menu reveals there is more to this place than steak. When I was invited to see for myself, I couldn’t say no. Pull up a chair as I share my dining experience.
Prosciutto and Melon
Off the Starters menu, Prosciutto and Melon is a light and refreshing summer item. Burrata cheese, made from mozzarella and cream, relies on sweet melon pieces (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew) to display its full flavor. While the prosciutto adds welcome texture, its taste is overwhelmed by the other elements of the dish.
Farm to Table Salad
With your first mouthful of mixed greens, a subtle sense of earthiness will confirm everything you are about to eat is farm-fresh. Vince Young Steakhouse’s Farm to Table Salad combines peaches, goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes and white balsamic vinaigrette in this second summer menu selection. The vinaigrette is extremely light–so much so that I ordered an extra side. After spooning the extra on, I realized this salad refuses to hide behind its dressing like so many salads do. Fortunately, this salad has nothing to hide.
From the regular Starters menu, Pork Belly features spicy plum chutney, pickled carrots and radish. This would have been my favorite appetizer of the night were it not for two overly fatty meat cuts. Nonetheless, I highly recommend you give this dish a try. The plum chutney is exceptional and combines beautifully with the pork pieces.
Traditionally, you might expect calamari to come with lemon and a cocktail dipping sauce. Served with pepperoncini, paramesan and a spicy tomato sauce, Vince Young Steakhouse has imagined a one-of-a-kind variation. If calamari is one of your go-to appetizers, don’t be intimated by the changes. Your friends will definitely want to split this one.
Grilled Steak Salad
I eagerly moved on to the main course. With one salad behind me, I have to confess that I wasn’t rushing to try another one. Would you believe the Grilled Steak Salad ended up in a competitive position for my favorite plate of the night? I should’ve known that anything with “steak” in the name would be outstanding. While you can cut up the rare meat and enjoy it all by itself, combining it with fresh greens, red onion, grape tomatoes, cucumber, crispy shallots, blue cheese and grilled green onion ranch is a hit out of the park. If I worked downtown, this could be my daily lunch.
Interestingly, General Manager Chris Tosch shared that the culinary team has toyed with the idea of an entree salad for a long time, but they were sensitive to brand identity. However, since the Grilled Steak Salad was added this summer, it has been extremely well-received. Add me to the groupies.
Whole Roasted Fish
Whole fish used to be a more common restaurant offering. These days, some people are turned off by the presentation. My advice: eat with your eyes closed if you have to because this is delicious. The fish of the day during my visit was red snapper, perfectly cooked and served with herb butter, pimento green beans, and fingerling potatoes.
Take your time. This is an event.
Market price ($35 during my visit)
Pan Seared Scallops
Dive into Pan Seared Scallops, served with fennel (which you may mistake for oddly-shaped potatoes), roasted grape tomatoes and leek bacon butter. This entree is on the lighter side if you’re not famished enough to consume a whole fish. I found the combination of elements to be slightly salty–not because they were cooked improperly, but simply because there wasn’t enough to balance the scallops, bacon and fennel.
Dessert: Cheesecake (Deconstructed)
Though I protested that I had no room left, my gracious server Ariz Santana insisted I taste a small dessert. He surprised me with Vince Young Steakhouse’s Cheesecake, a deconstructed version with mascarpone, and goat and cream cheeses, surrounded by crispy streusel and seasonal fruit. Don’t be afraid to mix everything up to compose the perfect bite. You’ll have fun with this one.
Planning Your Visit to Vince Young Steakhouse
Besides the Prosciutto and Melon, Farm to Table Salad, and Grilled Steak Salad, the restaurant has added a Tomahawk Pork Chop to the menu through this summer. It was sold out after a weekend rush, so I wasn’t able to try it, but you might want to consider this impressive hunk of meat served with vanilla brined, grilled peach honey glaze and baby carrots. Just check out the photos on Yelp if you aren’t convinced yet.
Vince Young Steakhouse is open every day of the week except Sunday. For more information or to make a reservation, visit vinceyoungsteakhouse.com.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite dish at Vince Young Steakhouse?
Disclosure: Vince Young Steakhouse comped my meal for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.