Well, my goodness! I’m one of those people who hear “Surf & Turf” in a restaurant name and think American steak and seafood. That’s not quite the case with C.R. Surf and Turf in Cedar Park. Yes, they have steaks on their menu. Yes, they have seafood on their menu. They even have a Surf & Turf platter, but you’ll have to read Reeza’s review to hear about that. No, C.R. Surf and Turf has more of an American meets Cajun meets Asian vibe going for it.
Meal: Philly cheese steak egg rolls, Seafood Gumbo, Grilled Shrimp Kebob with Grilled Vegetables, Rice and Garlic Bread, Tripled Layered Chocolate Cake. (Yes, I know there’s something odd about the way that dessert is spelled. I chose to phrase it exactly as they have it on their menu, which we’ll get into in a little bit.)
This little hole-in-the-wall restaurant is on an odd corner of one of the buildings in the shopping center that houses it. Parking can be a little difficult to locate close to the entrance because the entrance is closest to the wall that has a driveway going past it along one side of this building. We were lucky enough to find a place to park on the other side of the building near the end, however, and made our way inside.
This restaurant looks like it stays busy. I mean to tell you! The only empty seats in the house were at the bar or at tables that weren’t filled to maximum capacity. They even had one man standing guard of a dirty table to lay claim to it once it was cleaned off while his wife was in the restroom!! It was impossible to tell which of the staff had which positions as they were all dressed identically. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if all of your front of house staff look like they are closely related (I’m talking sibling-level and VERY hard to tell apart from one another without a good bit of thought), it makes it difficult for your customers to tell anyone apart.
The front of house staff was running. Well, not literally, but anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows what that term means. When they noticed there was a line forming at the front door, they quickly started clearing off the tables that had been and were in the process of being emptied. A little scatter-brained in that they sent people to the tables before they were wiped and sometimes forgot to make sure they had silverware when they received their menus, but our waiter was quick enough to remedy that when it was pointed out to him.
The menu wasn’t too cumbersome from my experience, although I’m pretty sure Gordon Ramsay would say it needs to be simplified. (I think he’d probably raise an eyebrow at some of the items on their menu, to be perfectly honest.) The “Chilli Cheese Fries”, the sauce the went well with “suculent crab meat” made me chuckle, but I couldn’t bring myself to even consider trying the “Sweat Potato Fries” that were listed with the sides.
They brought us out a basket of potato chips while we looked the menu over. They looked like they had been hand cut and fresh at some point during the day, we just arrived way after that point. Ours were cold and some of them were even soggy when we bit into them. I don’t know about you, but cold, greasy, soggy potato chips aren’t my cup of tea any day of the week.
They brought out our soups first. Since I don’t like clams, and the only other soup was a clam chowder, I decided to try the seafood gumbo. Reeza lived in the New Orleans area for a while and my baby brother still lives in Baton Rouge with his wife and kids, so we’ve been exposed to cajun food a time or two over the years. I won’t apologize for the fact that I compare every cajun dish I taste to the version of that same dish that our Grams made for us… and man can that woman cook!! The seafood gumbo that I tasted last night at C.R. had just the right heat for me (any more would have been too much on my tender mouth) and tasted almost as good as Grams’ gumbo. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of it!)
They timed each course pretty well. Ticket times were good, especially with the restaurant as busy as it was. I had time for my gumbo to settle and make a couple of Nibbler notes on my phone before they brought out my indulgence. Every once in a while, you’ll see something on a menu that makes you feel as though you have to taste it… because if you don’t, you will never forgive yourself. I had one of those items on the menu here and ordered it. Now I was born near Philadelphia and lived within a couple of hours of it for the majority of my childhood, so I’ve had real hoagies and philly cheese steaks. I’m sorry Texas… I love you, but the broad majority of you have no idea what these two menu items are supposed to taste like… and the biggest part of that is the bread! Ok… sorry… veered off on a rant there for a moment. The point is, I grilled the waiter over these before I decided to order them. I’m not sorry I did either! While they were a little too temperature hot at first, they tasted delicious! Apparently taking the bread out of the equation makes a really big difference for me. Not so sure about the ranch dipping sauce that came with it, but the rest was definitely a Notable Nibble.
Again, we had that sensation of almost perfect timing between back of house and front of house. I was pleased when I first saw our waiter carrying our entrees to the table… until he set the plate in front of me. The shrimp looks lovely. Rice looks just fine. Veggies…. well, veggies look like they spent just a little too much time over an open flame back in the kitchen. They weren’t overcooked (no mushiness to them whatsoever), but they were most definitely burnt with slightly more than a hint of char. In short, they tasted the same way Reeza prefers to make her toast if bread tasted like vegetables. The onions, on the other hand, were perfectly cooked for my tastes. I didn’t bother to taste the bread… I just wasn’t in the mood for it. The shrimp utterly shocked me when I tasted it. As lovely as these little beauties looked, I bit into dry shrimp! They were so overcooked that I immediately grabbed my drink and refused to eat any more without dipping it in butter first. Thankfully the butter remedied the problem enough for me to finish my meal.
Now our waiter in this place hit on another one of my pet peeves. I waited my first table over 20 years ago, so I’m admittedly a little anal about how wait staff do their jobs. When the customers have finished their entrees, by all means have their ticket ready for them, but approach the table and ask them if you can get them any dessert or see if they would like anything else before you give it to them. DO NOT just lay their ticket on the table, mumble something they can barely hear and walk off to another table! We finally got him to come back and ordered dessert. Mine was, as I mentioned above, a “Tripled Layered Chocolate Cake”. It wasn’t bad… but it wasn’t all that good either. The top layers were hard as a rock and the bottom layer crumbled under the slightest pressure from my fork.
The oddest thing about this restaurant is closing time. Their kitchen closes at precisely 9PM. According to the waiter, the computer shuts down and they can’t cook anything else. What a shame that my son, who arrived at 8:45 and wanted a take-out order, wasn’t able to even talk to the waiter until 9:04.
Despite the ups and downs of my meal at C.R. Surf & Turf, there are times when the next day proves more revealing than the dining experience itself. I find myself writing this review in very close proximity to my bathroom because I dare not get too far away. I was apparently so eloquent with my explanation of how I physically feel today while texting in Chinese with Reeza (she speaks it, I don’t… but have a lot of fun with the translator) that she says I am a regular Li Po.
是。的話從我的指尖流的，就像巧克力水流量從我的肛門 A safe English translation is: I don’t think I’ll be returning to C.R. Surf and Turf any time soon.