Monday, May 13, 2019

Lowake Steakhouse in Rowena, TX

Apologies for the long absence from posting. Life has been turbulent so I just have not had the time to post in the past few months.

The Lowake Steakhouse (formerly in the very small town of Lowake, Texas) has been around since the early 1950s and was regionally famous in its heyday. The current incarnation moved a couple of years ago over to the town of Rowena, a few miles outside of Ballinger. My assumption is the move was to take advantage of the more frequent traffic on the highway between Ballinger and San Angelo but one of the wait staff said it was also less expensive to move than to fix up the building in Lowake. Judging by the number of vehicles outside of the restaurant, they are doing booming business. People seemed to have come from miles around to eat a Saturday evening meal there. 
Bar area

I remember a family outing when I was in upper elementary or junior high traveling from Abilene to Lowake to eat at the steakhouse. My dad was in the insurance business and he often found little interesting and out-of-the-way places to grab a bite. As a kid, I did not understand the ongoing search to find a delicious, yet reasonably priced steak. However, I do remember being stuffed full and falling asleep on the hour drive back home.

Door to patio
This past weekend, some friends and I took a short road trip to go eat at the Lowake Steakhouse on a Saturday evening. We left Abilene a little after 5pm and arrived at the restaurant around 6:15pm. As we suspected there would be, there was a wait which we were told was between 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. When we picked the date to go, it did not cross our minds that it was Mother's Day weekend as well at time that area college graduations were happening. Not to mention that is was Saturday night. The place was PACKED and there were several large groups in the party room. Our wait to be seated turned out to be 25 minutes. There were other "waits" to come but that is to be expected with the crowds.

Once seated, it took our server a few minutes to come by and get our beverage order. Some of us had already gotten drinks at the bar but we needed some water and soft drink refills. We also decided to put in an order for some onion rings as an appetizer. When the server brought the drinks about seven minutes later, we ordered our meals. All the adults ordered steaks and the pre-teen got a bacon cheeseburger. Then the wait for food began. Granted we had ordered our steaks cooked everything from medium-rare to medium-well but after about 30 minutes we began to wonder about our onion rings and an update on the progress of our meal. Turns out the server forgot to put in the order for the rings. She asked if we still wanted them, we did, so they came out with the meal.

Hand battered onion rings (large size)

Several of us took shifts to head to the salad bar for the salad that came with our steaks. It was very basic selection. Iceberg lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, pickles, imitation bacon bits, a few other items, no mushrooms. Nothing special about it but it was serviceable. The ranch dressing did seem homemade.

As far as the main course, as you would expect from what I have written so far, the biggest issue with the meal had to do with timing. They were busy but it is not a good plan to go ahead and plate the sides while waiting for the meat. My fries were not hot. Others at the table had a similar issue with their fries and baked potatoes, except for the kid that got a burger. We were brought some fresh french fries since I said something about their temperature. The server did not act surprised by the comment which let me know that it was not an uncommon complaint. The onion rings were not piping hot either but the portion was generous, which is expected at the $8 price point. They were nice big slices of sweet onion breaded like a chicken friend steak. The onion rings were filling but the breading could have used more seasoning. The bacon cheeseburger pleased the palate of the kiddo in our group. It was big and the patty was fresh. 

Bacon cheeseburger with hand cut fries
As for the steaks, the menu states that garlic is featured in their seasoning. Very, very true. I tasted garlic powder, black pepper, and probably some seasoning salt. Applied with a heavy hand. This is not necessarily a detriment if the meat shines through which is did but if you aren't a garlic fan, skip the steak. The beef was of high quality.

I had a tenderloin, three others got filet mignon (bacon-wrapped tenderloin) and a bone-in rib-eye. Everyone stated their steaks were cooked to the requested "doneness". One or two would have liked the bacon on their filet to have been crispier but I find that the bacon on a filet mignon is not ever crispy as that would mean overcooking the steak. My steak was quite good but I do not mind garlic. The meat was tender and juicy. I was only able to finish about half of it, so the rest went home with me.

Tenderloin cooked medium with hand cut fries
The tenderloin and filet mignon were priced at $32.00 for 10-12 ounces. I am not sure how much the rib-eye was but the least expensive steak was a small 6-ounce dinner steak (sirloin) for $15.50. The prices were about $2-$5 higher than what I was expecting. On the menu there is KC (Kansas City strip steak) available for up to 7 people. If you have a large group, the KC options are a good bet.

Lowake Steakhouse gets high marks for the steak but they need to work on timing to be sure the sides come out hot. Nonetheless, judging by the crowd, people are pleased with what they get there.

Next time, I'll probably get a burger or the small steak and try the spicy fried pickles appetizer. If you are driving on highway 67 between Ballinger and San Angelo, it is worth a stop.

Also, they do serve beer, wine and wine-a-ritas.

12143 US Highway 67
Rowena, TX 76875
(325) 218-4025

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