The Statesman's Matthew Odam pans home of the $45 fajitas Benji's Cantina this week. The critic enjoyed the "tender" skirt steak fajitas and not much else. On the restaurant's ambitions: "Benji's ambitions range beyond standard Tex-Mex dishes. It's admirable in theory but unsuccessful in practice. A disaster of a chile en nogada ($18) looked like vegetable road-kill, the dark pepper splayed open to reveal a charred mess the menu assured us was almonds, apples, raisins and green olives but which had none of the brilliant pomegranate seeds you'd expect. What was advertised as a pecan cream sauce (as opposed to the traditional walnut) had the taste and consistency of butter mixed with maltodextrin. It would have made a great popcorn topping, but that's about it." Odam rates Benji's a 5 out of 10 and suggests that it behaves more like "a bar that's simply masquerading as a beautiful restaurant."
The Chronicle's Melanie Haupt finds a lot to like classic Austin steakhouse Austin Land and Cattle Company, which has recently rebranded itself as ALC Steaks. On the steaks: "Although there are options beyond beef on the menu, we stuck with the restaurant's titular protein. My 10-ounce rib eye ($32) was tender, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and virtually flawless. Paired with a loaded baked potato, it was a hearty yet elegant meal. And while I am of the opinion that a good steak doesn't need a sauce, we were curious about what ALC had to offer. My husband ordered the house-made chimichurri sauce ($2) to go with his 10-ounce sirloin ($28), and it was herbaceous and delicious. On another visit, we got the ALC homemade sauce ($2), and it was umami-rich, with a bit of a kick to finish."
THE BLOGS: The Austinot revisits Dart Bowl, South Austin Food is a Regal Ravioli fan, and Slow Down and Savor praises The Leaning Pear's Cobb salad.
· Benji's Cantina Doesn't Have the Substance to Back Up Its Sizzle [Statesman]
· Harmonic Convergence [Chronicle]
· All Week in Reviews [EATX]