Editor-in-chief Edward Southerland, Advertising art director Jared Tredway and I took the backroads to Downtown McKinney on a recent Saturday, looking for a simple place to have a very late lunch.
Parking was easy to find less than 2 blocks from the center of things. The sidewalks were damp from a light early afternoon shower, but otherwise it was as gorgeous an afternoon as any day you’ll see in this part of Texas. We sauntered three across for about a block, then had to go single file when we hit some foot traffic right on the Square.
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Rick’s Chophouse, 107 N. Kentucky, McKinney, Texas
(214) 726-9251 Reservations
Lunch: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm
Dinner: Mon-Thu 5pm-9pm; Fri & Sat 5pm-11pm
On the way up the street we passed a busy little tapas cafe, an Italian place, and Goodhues (out of business as of 6/1/09). Then I spotted Rick’s Chophouse on the corner. A few folks were gathered around an outside menu. The restaurant had mounted their nicely printed menu in a swell looking glass and brass standee a few feet from the front door. This is restaurant-speak for “No, Mr. and Mrs. Walkabout Tourist, you can’t get a hamburger and fries for under $12. Gratuity not included.”
We nodded quietly and agreed, “This is a company expense account must.”
Rick’s Chophouse is exactly the kind of dark mahogony, burgundy leather booth appointed restaurant that promises substantial cocktails, well tempered appetizers; cold, fresh salads; big, thick, tender steaks, and a conservative selection of sensible sides. The place delivered exactly as expected.
We first ordered the “Blackened Ahi Tuna” ($14) appetizer. It seems silly to pay an average $3.25 per bite but sometimes you just have to try these offerings.
As a rule, I always choose the house signature salad. It’s a gamble, but if they are willing to put their name on it I’ll give it a go. Rick’s “Chophouse Salad” ($6) was a mix of julienne spinach, romaine, iceberg, radicchio, smoked turkey, bacon, tomatoes, cucumber, roasted corn, pinto beans, hearts of palm, scallions, and Pepper Jack cheese in a lemon-herb ranch dressing. Prepared chilled and chopped, it was full of flavor and absolutely delicious. I will order the larger portion on my next visit. It reminded me of the Ozzie Nelson chopped salad I often ordered back in the 80s at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant near Hollywood & Vine streets, a block from my office.
Service was swift and efficient on this particular very slow late Saturday afternoon. Sad for the owner, Rick Wells, but lucky for our trio to be able to not feel rushed. We spent nearly two hours dining and talking. Wells who dropped by our table before we left, admitted being open on Saturday for lunch was more an accommodation to the needs of McKinney Square’s ambiance to have active open businesses, and less about making enough money to make for a good business decision. He added it was an opportunity for the staff to gear up for a typical packed-to-the-tin ceiling Saturday night.
The cowboy cut “Bone-in Ribeye Steak” ($36) was perfectly prepared to my order: medium rare. Plated with a large loaded baked potato, the meat lapped over the potato and three onion rings had been tossed on the end of the bone. A béarnaise sauce was a great complement. Leisurely I sliced thin pieces of meat and put them to tongue to savor every last bit of flavor. Only able to finish half of the steak, I was already imagining how much I would enjoy my doggy-bag treat later that night.
After the table was cleared and the leftovers secured in their takeaway tins, we felt more able to take on dessert.
As for myself, the “Rustic Apple Pie” ($7) with bourbon-flavored vanilla ice cream (supplied by locally creamery Henry’s) disappeared without much effort. Mr. Sotherland’s “Warmed Bread Pudding” ($5) was topped with orange ice cream. The extremely fit and chiseled Mr. Tredway declined the sweets with great effort.
To be honest, one in our party felt his steak was not brought to the table as ordered, but he declined to send it back and in fact, said nothing until the next day so as to not spoil the host’s vocal delight in every bite of every course served. That is a restraint born of good southern upbringing.
The tab for the table (no alcohol was ordered) was just over $150, plus a $30 tip to our waiter. We are already planning a return., probably again on a Saturday afternoon, preferring the pampered service one receives during a slow late lunch.
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