Reader Review: Al’s Steak and Salad Bar in Dallas

I’ve been to Al’s Steak and Salad Bar in Preston Royal a couple of times. It’s not the best restaurant in the world or the worst—both times I’ve had a nice meal. However, a “woman in the restaurant business” with two small kids files this report.

I just had the worst experience ever at a restaurant, and I consider myself pretty tolerant after being in the restaurant business for many years. I arrived at Al’s Steak and Salad on Royal Lane, recently written up nicely in D Magazine, (with an 18-month-old and a 3- year-old) just me…for a nice 12-ounce steak at 5:30 before the “rush.” We were the ONLY people in the entire restaurant. They kept us waiting for 50 minutes to deliver me a well done steak (ordered medium). I sent it back. Redelivered a new one, after my little ones had already consumed all the French fries, and were on the verge of a melt down after now sitting for an hour. New one was delivered RAW. Kids are ready to go and I am frustrated and angry that no one has eaten anything other than French fries. I told them to wrap it up and that I would take it home and microwave it later. Waitress said she would take it off bill. I got the bill (10 minutes and an argument later with the owner) and it still had the steak on it. He said “well, you are taking the steak with you!” I said, then keep the steak. If I wanted my kids to only eat French fries, I would have taken them to McDonald’s. As a result, he took the steak off, but charged me a trip to the salad bar ($10.00) and the fries ($6.00). The salad bar is usually included with the meal at no additional charge. So I left a 10.00 tip and left after nearly 80 minutes in this small little neighborhood restaurant.

Single women and small kids? Hmm. Think this was the problem or just a case of wrong place wrong time?  Anybody out there with similar or opposite experiences?


  • Tr

    It’s a surprising attitude to run across there; that should be a family friendly part of town.

    Then again I can’t name a single notable restaurant in that shopping center in the past decade.

  • mikenfrisco

    At face value I would say it is unfortunate she had such a negative experience.

    As an observation, I would say she might have been the only woman in America with two small kids ordering a steak in a restaurant at that exact moment. When I say restaurant, I’m not counting Golden Corral, Western Sizzlin, or any $2 piece of meat you get with eggs at a breakfast joint. Who does that?

  • macpad

    Steak places aren’t really a young kid place. Would like to hear Al’s side of this. So she was upset the kids hadn’t had anything besides french fries? Was she going to feed the kids part of the steak? Something about this sounds weird.

  • TLS

    Yes, she was going to feed the kids some steak. A 12 oz. steak is more than enough for a woman and two little kids. That’s not the point though. The point is it took forever to get the steak, it wasn’t cooked correctly, and then the owner didn’t make amends for the situation. I sometimes dine out with just the kids and I’m never treated differently than when we go as a family or a couple so I don’t think that was the problem. On the surface it looks like this restaurant has a management problem.

  • Buddy

    TLS She said it was the owner. Thats disturbing. It would have been so simple to make it right. I dont understand some people.

  • Jed

    I went to Jaspers on Sunday (Mother’s day) and my steak was incorrectly prepared. The manager brought my replacement in 5 minutes and asked me to verify it was medium rare. He apologized and thanked me.

    If I can get great service like that on a busy Sunday night, why can’t this patron? If kids are a reason for bad service, I feel sad that Al’s treats paying customers that wey.

  • MNS

    As noted the area around Preston/Royal is family central…it is loaded with kids and any restaurant that wants to thrive had better be kid friendly. Al’s is new and in a spot that has not had a successful tenant since ZuZu’s and that’s a long time. There is no excuse EVER to keep little kids waiting for food…everyone who has every had kids or worked in a restaurant knows that. The bigger issue is the attitude of the staff…always treat the customer with respect and do all you can to have them leave happy. There is no reason for this kind of treatment…a smart restaurant would have comped the meal in hopes that Mom would come back with her friends and order a bunch of drinks. Instead many of us will read this and not go….

  • macpad

    Let’s not forget that Al’s apparently has a large salad bar that “comes with the meal”.. If this mom was so worried about junior’s nutrition and getting him fed timely – maybe she should have fed him the salad bar vs. french fries. There is no excuse for poor service but we’ve only heard one side of this story. I don’t really think a steak place needs to be “kid friendly”. If I’m paying $35 for a steak – I don’t want to be seated next to a table that has more children than it does adults.

  • MNS

    I assume that is why most of us dont go to steak restaurants at 5:30!! Like I said if you dont want kids I would avoid the Preston/Royal area.

  • Borborygmous

    I hate to discourage this diner from taking her kids to interesting places to eat, but, 18 months and three years old. Really? Really? And you expected that to go smoothly, HOW? Listen honey, there are places that are appropriate for their levels of attention, a steakhouse is not one of them. Unless you have other adults to help distract, entertain, thumpthemonthebackoftheheads .

    And for the next few years it ONLY GETS WORSE. They become more mobile, more wiggly, more obnoxious, until they learn that to eat out means they have to sit still for at least an hour.

    Now she is absolutely correct that the restaurant did not do enough to satisfy their lack of attention and quality food. But I have to honestly wonder how much of her frustration was in dealing with kids who were adding to her impatience.

    When the Preston/Royal Neighborhood Services opens, just a mention, the dinner rush starts at 5:00. Don’t bring them there, it really is a grown up restaurant, which is good considering Preston/Royal has lots of kid friendly restaurants already.

  • hey mikenfrisco, you poor sheltered little lamb, a female going early to a steakhouse with her kids b/c she wants some beef and doesn’t want to disturb other patrons during rush hour is an unbelievable concept to you?

    And macpad, steak places are actually great for kids b/c they’re often louder than other restaurants. We routinely take our 4 yr old to bobs, al’s, etc. Of course at 530 with no one there, it really shouldn’t matter what the cuisine is should it? And I would describe that “huge” salad bar more like a salad cart. Meaning, I could easily fit it in the back of my car.

  • macpad

    Snootyfoodie — your name is appropriate. Yes, the cuisine does matter. If you want a quick meal because your 18 month old needs to be fed — I don’t think a steak place is appropriate. I don’t go to a steak house for a quick meal. You go ahead and take your kids to Bob’s and Al B’s– but I can promise you that when they see a 4 yo coming in – it is with some serious eye rolling.

  • TLS

    Damn, I wish this lady hadn’t mentioned that she brought her kids because it isn’t germane to the conversation yet it is sidetracking the original complaint which was it took an HOUR to receive TWO steaks that were NOT cooked to her liking. That’s it!

  • LJT

    So for all you moms out there who would like a decent meal and to teach your children to enjoy a nice meal? Macpad says you can just forget about it and stick to Purple Cow and the like. What an arrogant attitude! While I understand that there are folks out there who cannot (or will not) make their children behave properly, it should in no way force those of us who do to be relegated to a sub-par meal, restaurant or service. My daughter has been dining out with me since she was 6 weeks old and in her 3 years she has been to some of the finest places in Dallas. I would be lying to say that she was an angel 100% of the time, but the 5% she was not good I asked the waiter to please pack my meal to go and I left. More often than not I received more compliments from other diners on how well behaved she was than I did “eye rolling”. Why all the intolerance of children? We all used to be one.

  • LJT

    TLS – there was a question posed by Nancy about single women and small children being a reason for the sloppy service, but I see what you mean (guilty!)

  • sena

    LJT – typical parent thinking their kid is the exception. You need to teach a 18 month about a nice meal?

    TLS – there probably is a correlation between her perceived poor service and her bringing 2 toddlers into a steak place to split a steak. As someone above mentioned, this woman’s frustration was probably more around her 18 mo old and 3 year old. Please try to picture that dinner. Nobody was in the restaurant so what were the kids doing? Sitting there perfectly quiet like LJT’s kids and talking opera and world politics? I doubt it. Kids are kids – they are antsy and fussy — especially when there are no distractions.

  • TLS

    So which one of you wants to volunteer to go to Al’s and order a steak? Do not bring a kid of any age.

  • LJT

    sena – I don’t have a kid, I’m not a goat. And I never implied that my child could hold a conversation about opera. Are you implying that “mom” would have received better service had she ordered a separate steak for the 3-year old and 18-month old?

  • sena

    @lJT – I’m saying that this woman was probably part of the problem. Not to say there weren’t service issues but if I were a betting girl, I’d put my $$ on that there is more to this story.

    Yes, probably better service if there were 3 people eating and drinking. I can picture it now — “do you have a high chair? Can you put this in a sippy cup? ” Then half the kids french fries and whatever else all over the floor.

  • Gina

    For the record- I am not a single woman who dined at Al’s and filed this report. I am married to a former restaurant owner, and current investor in several restaurants. We ejnjoy fine dining and we eat with our children at all of the finest steakhouses and sushi restaurants in town. Our kids are well behaved, and no, they usually do not leave a mess or disturb other patrons. I am always particularily mindful of where we sit, what time we arrive so as to optimize both my kids sensitive time schedule as well as that of the other diners. I refuse to eat at Purple Cow or Fish Grill- why? Because it is inedible. When i take our kids out, it is because we want a nice meal. After a long day of taking care of them, and dont want to cook, dont I deserve a 35.00 steak? COme on people…Dont go to Al’s, they have many issues, and it starts with management, and continues into the kitchen. And for the record- stay away from the salad bar that is included in your meal. It looks like it has been sitting there forever. The lettuce was warm. That is why my kids only ate french fries. Period.

  • Twinwillow

    To all of you above that want to put the blame on her children as the cause of her horrid service, food and attitude of the owner, I say stick your ignorant comments up your a**hole!
    The problem at Al’s is, Al’s! Either the owner, or the management of this crappy little excuse for a restaurant.
    She courteously entered the restaurant before the dinner crush. There was no one else in the restaurant. They should have kissed her ass and be thankful they had a customer when it’s usually quiet.

  • Kam

    I figured out what happened! The bratty kids disturbed the person cooking the steak which resulted in him screwing it up twice. I am sure the huge rush at 5:30 might have contributed also. Give me a break-crappy service is crappy service. For the record, we take our 16 month old to all sorts of restaurants. You should know your kid well enough to know how they will handle certain environments. Rathbun’s Blue Plate ain’t exactly Luby’s but is ultra-kid friendly. Just because you have a child does not mean you cannot enjoy good food and service. Just be cognizant of your environment and most reasonable people will appreciate it.

  • Borborygmous

    One adult with two kids that young? Again, there is a time and place for everything. I took my kids to restaurants from a young age as well, but always made sure they didn’t outnumber the adults. Because stuff happens at that age, from poopie diapers that need to be changed in the middle of a meal (been there), to kids who cry when they get a boo-boo (been there too). And when one has something happen, you know chances are really good that somethings going to happen to the other kid around the same time.

    I personally think this lady would have had a much more enjoyable evening going to a $20 entree place, and using the savings to hire a sitter – for at least one of the kiddos.

  • Al’s sucks

    Twinwillow is right. Not all kids are a pain in the ass. They screwed up royally in the way they treated her.

  • It really doesn’t matter whom she came with, what she ordered, and the whole “you pay, I pay, you comp, I comp” dance at the end is just that, financials.

    However, making anyone wait 50 minutes for a steak, and not getting it done to order, that’s signs of a truly bad restaurant. Now, let’s take some glances here. The restaurant was empty – chances are the kitchen was, too. No sense in this economy to keep people around if no one shows up. So there’s this one guy, he’s likely the one with the short straw. And he doesn’t prep. So when the order comes in, he struggles. And, well, we know the rest.

    I really don’t care about the kids or comp part of the story, but Dallas needs to learn, not just here, not to stick the culinary school extern into kitchens to save money.

  • Chuck

    This whole thing makes me the old saying:

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of your
    time, and it annoys the pig.”

  • curmudgeon

    Chuck, What? Really, what does that even mean?
    Anyways, someone goes to a restaurant and orders and is willing to pay, should get the same treatment as anyone else. Single woman with two kids or not. That being said should anyone pay for a meal that is cooked wrong twice and then takes an hour. She was even thoughful enough to come in early and was treated like this.
    Sorry but my attitude is if I’m paying I’ll have it my way. On time, cooked correctly and served with a smile.

  • Peace maker

    I’m torn between crossing Al’s off my list to ever try or to make reservations for 15 at 8 on Saturday night and show up with my 5 year olds birthday party.

  • I agree with the point of hearing both sides of the story regarding the slow service. there is however no excuse for an argument regarding the bill. Comp the food, give them a doggy bag, and invite them back for another try w/ a smile on your face. I’m in the restaurant biz, and sometimes it’s tough, but it’s what you do.

    As for bringing kids, if the restaurant has high chairs to accommodate, kids are welcome. When trying a new place, i always call ahead and ask both 1) do they have high chairs and 2) are kids welcome at the time i intend to be there.

    and for bringing a kid to a steakhouse, my 18 month old has been to Dunston’s on numerous occasions.

  • MEG

    @snooty foodie. Hilarious that you tout your skills as coping parents when a nanny is raising your ‘little lamb’.

  • fastfood

    @ Meg – touche

    @snooty foodie – Where’s your review of Al’s? Didn’t see it on your site. Apparently you have had dinner there. What were your thoughts?

    Nancy – I hope this blog doesn’t turn into a b*$ch session about service. Anyone with an ax to grind can be heard here.

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