It’s not often that as “average Jane and Joe” first and restaurant reviewers second that we have occasion to dine at a restaurant as upscale as Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse. So when we were offered the opportunity to come in for a review, we were happy to oblige – even if one of us was slightly under-dressed for the occasion (guess which one [hint, it wasn't me]).
Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse is named for B.J. Kirby, a Dallas native who owned and operated Kirby’s for 33 successful years before retiring in 1987. His friends and next door neighbors bought the rights and recipes from him in 1993, and in 1995, opened the first of (now) five locations under three names across Texas and Oklahoma. Corporate Executive Chef Daniel Nemac has added his signature touch to many items on the menu, as well as creating several new menu items for Kirby’s.
Kirby’s is located right along I-45 at Timberloch Place alongside a serene lake with no other access. Despite it’s proximity to the freeway, the restaurant feels secluded and tucked away from the crowd – a theme that continues inside with a dining room that hugs the enclosed bar offering quiet, niche-like booths and comfortable couches and seatings to take in the live music offered Thursday – Saturday nights.
Jacob, our server, carefully and thoroughly went over the specials of the evening, then offered a few suggestions from the bar to start us off with a cocktail. I had a Wild Blueberry Lemonade, he had a Kirby’s Sidecar ($10 each). We started our meal with two appetizers, the Maryland Style Crabcake ($21.95) and the Lobster Cargot ($24.95). If you happen to be a person that doesn’t care much for seafood… You absolutely must try one (or both) of these appetizers. There was nothing remotely fishy or overpowering about either of these wonderful treats. The crabcake was unlike any either of us had had before. Oven-baked, it towers a full four inches off the plate and is stuffed with fresh lump crab meat, then topped with Beurre Blanc sauce. The lobster cargot appetizer is incredible. Made with cold water Australian lobster tail, then oven-roasted in garlic lemon butter and topped with aged Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs. Jacob also brought a basket of bread; some fantastic, crusty sourdough, tender and flavorful.
While we enjoyed our appetizers, Sommelier Scott Griffin stopped by our table and offered to pair wines with our entrees. We took him up on his offer and let him know what we had selected. He disappeared into the depths of Kirby’s Extensive wine “cellar” with a knowing smile, and his recommendations were brought by Jacob later on with the third course.
He Said: I opted for the soup of the day, Premium Potato Soup ($4.95), which included bits of potato, bacon and made with a heavy cream. It was a served in a shallow bowl, but as tasty as it was, who could possibly complain? We were only on the second course and I was already feeling a little full.
She Said: For what the serving size may have lacked in the soup, the Kirby’s Chopped Salad ($8.95) more than made up the difference. A huge bowl with a beautifully presented salad containing Iceberg lettuce, Granny Smith apples, Applewood smoked bacon, Walnuts and tossed with Kirby’s signature bleu cheese dressing. The dressing is made with an enviable amount of bleu cheese; enough to make every bite tang with it’s sharp and salty flavor but not overwhelm the other flavors of the salad. I wanted to eat it all, but I wanted to save room. It’s quite a great conundrum in which to find oneself.
Kirby’s is the kind of restaurant you want to go for a relaxing, slow-paced meal; be it for a special occasion, date night or dinner with friends. The advantage to this is every course is carefully prepared and plated; a delight for the eyes as well as the palate; never thrown together and rarely pushed out in a rush as at some other establishments. Chef Carl Flowers runs an impeccable kitchen in The Woodlands, and the pride he takes in his work shows in every item on the menu.
He Said: We wanted to try items from both the signature menu as well as Chef Nemac’s specials, so I went for the Blackened Redfish Special ($38). A beautifully prepared fillet of redfish topped a fluffy pile of delicious risotto with shrimp. The fillet was tender, moist, with a texture that was like anglefood cake, soft, fresh and light. You won’t find any trace of that formidable fishy taste that can stand up to even the brightest lemon defense.
She Said: I’m usually a chicken kind of girl (no pun intended) but you don’t go to a steak and seafood restaurant for the chicken – though I’m sure if you do, it’s every bit as memorable as anything else Kirby’s has to offer. I am a fan of good cheese and the 7 oz. Roquefort Filet ($35.95) attracted my eye. The steak was well-prepared, if not ever-so-slightly too rare, but it was immediately clear to see that like everything Kirby’s serves, the Roquefort cheese is of impeccable quality – which also means it is very strong, and, for me anyway, just too much. Who knew I had a ceiling on cheese strength? Jacob was quick to whisk away my plate, having likely read my surprise from across the room. He, too, has noted that for him the Roquefort is a little much, but it’s also his mother’s favorite, so to each their own.
I replaced the Roquefort Filet with the 7 oz. Pepper Steak, a blue ribbon filet pressed in cracked peppercorns. This filet was perfectly prepared, a warm pink center that absolutely melts in your mouth. The cognac pepper sauce perfectly complements the steak without overpowering the flavor of the meat.
As sides, we had the Fresh Sauteed Vegetables and (of course) Susie’s Famous Mashed Potatoes (both $6.95). The sides are both portioned well enough for two to split with some left over. The potatoes were wonderfully fluffy, with hints of garlic and cream, some larger chunks of potatoes and skin left in adding a nice texture.
Scott paired the Blackened Redfish with a Patz and Hall Pinot Noir ($20) which was smooth and fruity, with flavors of cherry and pomegranate, blackberry and plum skin. For the Filets, he had selected a Camaraderie Syrah ($13) which was very nice with little tannin, and a clear example that Scott knows his business as it perfectly complemented the filet with it’s pepper and blackberry spice flavor.
Trying to save room for dessert at this point was a challenge of monumental proportions, despite having plenty of time to take it all in and being under no rush whatsoever. We did our best, and ordered the Dark Chocolate Mousse and the Apple Crisp (both $7.95). Jacob recommended we sample some of their new coffees, and wooed us with the Godiva coffee ($9 each) topped with whipped cream. The mousse was light and fluffy, lacking all of the bitterness that can sometimes be associated with a dark chocolate dessert. The apple crisp was served in a slightly rounded bowl – Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream atop a warm base of nuts, apples, and cinnamon. I was looking forward to what I hoped would be Nirvana in a bowl yet it was not to be found here. The overall flavor was good, yet no better than could be had in any other area restaurant in The Woodlands.
The Bottom Line
In a market as strong as The Woodlands with such heavy hitters as Perry’s, Fleming’s and Jasper’s in the Steak and Seafood category, Kirby’s easily makes a name for themselves and stands out from the crowd. One can’t possibly be disappointed with anything you are served, from the drinks to the desserts. And if, somehow, you aren’t happy with something, or a dish isn’t what you expected, the impeccable management staff is accessible and professional in dealing with whatever you may require. Sure, they knew who we were and why we were there, but we observed GM Kimberly Hildebrand, Assistant General Manager and Sommelier Scott Griffin and Director of Private Events and Marketing Eric Saville making the rounds and chatting with patrons at many of the tables within our view. This proactive approach to management is reflected in their waitstaff, where servers are never seen ignoring their tables, and (as in our server, Jacob’s case) are intuitive as to when to return to your table and when to step back and allow you to enjoy your meal uninterrupted. We are certain that this display of attention to detail we observed is a regular thing and certainly not for our benefit.
And don’t get the idea that if you don’t have a special reason to go to Kirby’s you shouldn’t go – that couldn’t be further from the truth, with their warm and inviting bar and dining area, happy hour specials and – unique to The Woodlands location – a lunch menu available on Fridays, for those with a little less time on their hands wanting to experience the delights that make Kirby’s so special.
The TWE! list of Steak and Seafood Restaurants in The Woodlands.
Think we got it wrong? Or did we hit the nail on the head? Let us know in the comments below. And remember, you don’t have to take our word for it – give them a try for yourself and decide!