Looking back on the night, it's not hard to see that it was doomed to fail. In the car on the way over, the Journo happily told us that she had booked our table a week early and confirmed it that day. It was a Tuesday night, so I wasn't concerned in the slightest, but did find it quite funny that the Manager had no idea who we were or that there were ANY bookings for that night...
And it just got worse.
While we waited outside for the rest of the crew to arrive - the Restaurant Staff busied themselves with putting together our table of 8. When we came in - we ordered drinks, one which was returned because it was made with the wrong Bourbon (Woodstock instead of Jim Beam - not trying to be posh people, just trying to maintain some kind of stomach lining) and mine that had so much ice in it my teeth still hurt...
But it was fine - we had cold drinks, a flowerpot full of peanuts (yes, they still do that - but no, you can't throw the shells on the floor like you used to) and some great company. We finally waved down a waiter and asked if we could sit down and he stared blankly at us until we gave up and found our own way to the only "big" table that was set.
30 minutes later after exhausting all other options (read: clearing throat, loudly mentioning how hungry / thirsty we were and trying in vain to make eye contact with anyone who worked there) the Journo finally got up to go and hunt down a Waiter. Like I said, it was a Tuesday night, there were 5 staff and less than 10 other diners... She tells me that when she finally found a Waiter and asked if someone could come and take her order, he asked her "What for?". For food. That's what you sell here. Apparently.
Another good 5 minutes later, said Waiter actually made it to our table. Where he proceeded to rattle of the side sides with each dish like an Indian Cyborg - not bothering to tell us what dishes weren't available until someone ordered them. Now that's what I call customer service.
Fast forward 45 minutes later and our food finally showed up. Well most of it anyway. Out of a table of 8 people, only 5 of us were given cutlery, none of us were offered water and we had cleared our own table of empty glasses and bottles. Nice. Did I mention that my meal never arrived? Well, I lie - it did, but not until everyone else had finished their dinner. Hows that for awkward? I can only imagine that the waiter either forgot to order it or the Chef forgot to cook it... not sure which, as there was no apology or explanation - just a deadpan statement from the Cyborg that mine "was coming".
While I waited for my Fajitas to arrive, stomach rumbling louder than the Kenny Rogers CD in the backgroud, I considered the possibility that I was being punished. I was the only person at the table (asides from H, who only eats deep fried food - on this occasion it was chicken) who didn't order steak. Yes, I was being punished for coming to a Steakhouse and being arsy enough NOT to order a steak. Ye shall be punished non-conformer.
But finally my dinner arrived and I want to tell you that it was awesome and worth the wait. But it wasn't. I've made better Fajitas using a Taco Kit from Coles. But the best part? They didn't even give me a damn plate!! No, I got a platter with all the "accompaniments" on it, and some kind of microwaveable tupperware dish with my soggy Tortillas in it - but no actual plate to eat off. Hilarious, but by this stage I was too hungry to care, didn't want them to spit on my (requested) plate and just wanted to finish (like everyone else had already done). So I winged it, and managed to not spill too much of it.
Another highlight of the evening? The Journo had secretly arranged for birthday cake to be bought and delivered to the Restaurant complete with candles and sparklers. D had no idea and it was going to be a great surprise as she rarely manages to keep secrets. So off she went "to the bathroom" to organise the cake and while she was trying to find the Manager - the Cyborg came and slammed cake plates and forks on the table in front of D. Not only did he ruin the great surprise - he didn't even bother to clear away out dirty dinner dishes first...
The absolutely corker? They obviously only have one kind of knife here - so they seemed to have rolled up every last morsel of customer service they could find and this was the result. A pretty cake knife. Yes people, that is a steak knife with an alfoil handle. Pure Class.
So we ate cake, we laughed about the night and we went to pay. Only one bill per table despite the fact we were the only people there at 9pm, so when I paid by Credit Card the Cyborg said "Sorry about meal", but unfortunately not sorry enough to take it off the bill. Easily the worst $27 I have ever spent.
Just like Boarding School - Lone Star... never again.
The Verdict: The American version of Fawlty Towers. Everyone else said their steaks ranged between "okay" and "crap". The cheesy fries were a massive let down. Soggy fries with melted cheese and oily bacon, with a side of very ordinary Commercial Ranch Dressing. The Baked Sweet Potato that I enjoyed many moons again was a shrivelled orange lump...
Recommendations: Have a tequila shot and leave. That's if you can be bothered to drive there in the first place.
Contact: Lone Star Steakhouse