When the Bonanza Steakhouse on Walnut Bottom Road burned down in fall 2013, many area diners were left wondering if a new restaurant would take its place. It took about five years for an eatery to arrive on the scene, and in February, Roadhouse Steak and Seafood opened its doors to the public.
Last Friday night a friend and I decided to check it out, and we were pleasantly surprised to find an easy parking space in the more-than-ample lot.
Unless you’ve visited this Roadhouse, you might be a bit confused by the name, but that’s where the similarities to the popular Texas Roadhouse chain end. Some have described the eatery as a diner, which is a bit of a disservice. The décor is more upscale than the average diner, from the chandelier in the waiting area, to the oversized windows and the modern blinds that allow the diners to control the light with a mere touch. Seating is a combination of roomy booths and wooden tables accompanied by attractive sage-and-brown high-backed chairs.
The large restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, spans 7,700 square feet and accommodates about 250 customers, with additional seating for 66 in the banquet room.
Roadhouse touts an extensive dinner menu ranging from steaks, to pasta and seafood like salmon, crab imperial and stuffed flounder. “House favorites” include meatloaf wrapped with bacon, short ribs and my choice, the rosemary chicken described on the menu as “airline chicken breast,” marinated and topped with a creamy rosemary sauce ($15.95), to which I added a side of onion rings for a $2 upcharge.
For those unfamiliar with the term “airline chicken,” I understand it dates back to the 1960s. Some say that it earned its moniker because passengers who were served the breast with the drumette attached perceived the portion to be larger. I, however, prefer the more humorous explanation — that it’s a breast with a “wing” attached.
My companion, who can’t seem to pass up an order of wings, chose as an appetizer the sole wing option listed as “seasoned wings” served with bleu cheese and celery ($8.95). He added to that a “Road House Combo,” which included a six-ounce, New York Strip and a shrimp skewer ($21.95), with a side of spinach.
As for beverages, it may be helpful to mention that Roadhouse lacks a liquor license, so choices are nonalcoholic and range from smoothies, to lattes, cappuccinos, hot tea, soda, iced tea, milkshakes, soft drinks and fruit juices.
Our server informed us that a visit to the salad bar was included with our entrees. The bar contains about a dozen items, with the usual salad bar fare, including a few side items like potato and chicken salad.
Service was friendly and efficient, and within 15 minutes our entrees arrived at our table. My chicken breast was tender, and I especially enjoyed the delicious, creamy, flavorful rosemary sauce. I was concerned that it might be heavy and lack flavor like some sauces I’ve had in the past, but instead it was a lovely light, flavorful, rosemary-infused complement to the moist chicken breast.
My companion said he enjoyed his wings because they too were moist and the light seasoning was just right for those who are averse to wet wings that can be a bit difficult to eat without a messy result. He reported that he was also happy with the nicely cooked, moist shrimp that came with his combo.
As for the steak, it was a bit of a disappointment. Thin, salty and over-seasoned, it’s not something he’d take a chance on again, although he did remark that he was impressed that the temperature was done just as ordered. “With a steak that thin, I think that cooking it to the correct temperature could be difficult,” he said.
Should we have decided to end our meal on a sweet note, we could have chosen from a selection of cheesecakes and pies that were on display in a case nearby.
Those who are looking for an upscale casual dining option in Carlisle may want to consider giving this place a try, while keeping in mind that the menu offers so much more than steak.
Up next: Lunch at Which Wich on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township