The former Hops Brewery on Independence Boulevard in Matthews has undergone a major change recently, to become the latest member of the LongHorn Steakhouse family in the Charlotte area. Both interior and exterior have been renovated with warm wood and rugged stonework to suggest a Western atmosphere. Inside a real leather saddle hangs from the wall, and deer antlers entwine to form a chandelier. The location opened in early February.
LongHorn introduced a special menu this summer full of seasonal flavors that makes the most of its wood-fired grill. We recently had the opportunity to sample several of the special dishes and found excellent quality and taste paired with reasonable prices.
A stand-out dish on the Chef’s Showcase menu is the Grilled Lobster Chops. Three cold-water lobster tails are strung on a skewer along with large scallops, then grilled. The lobster tails proved remarkably tender and flavorful, and the dish, served on citrus rice with a grilled cob of corn on the side, was large enough even for a big appetite.
For the smaller appetite, the Grilled Watermelon Wedge salad is a perfect choice. A generous slice of ripe watermelon, brushed with honey and seared on the grill, accompanies an interesting salad full of quinoa, goat cheese, romaine and curly kale, the healthy “superfood” of the moment, dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
A warm loaf of honey wheat bread accompanies each meal, and is so good that it’s hard not to eat it all and ask for more.
The Summer menu also includes a Fried Green Tomato appetizer – six slices of green tomato, hand breaded and fried then sprinkled with goat cheese and a sriracha remoulade for just the right hint of spice.
Other items on the Summer Chef Specials menu include Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, an 11 oz. Fire-Grilled Hawaiian Ribeye marinated in a sweet ginger-garlic soy sauce and topped with grilled pineapple, and Brown Butter Lemon Tilapia and Grilled Shrimp served with roasted grape tomatoes and fingerling potatoes. For dessert, save room for a fresh Peach and Raspberry Tart served with vanilla bean ice cream.
David Blankenship, manager of the LongHorn Steakhouse in Matthews, said the menu will change quarterly.
Guests who arrive Monday through Friday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. can sample items from the specially priced new Prime Time menu. Stand-outs here include the Crispy Jalapeno Shooters, a fairly mild version of the classic popper, featuring a giant pepper stuffed with cheese, served standing upright in a shot glass on a puddle of sauce. Several different sauces are available; we recommend the avocado lime, which would be equally good on a salad.
The Shrimp and Avocado Stack is another tasty option on the Prime Time menu. Garlicky boiled shrimp atop a layer of guacamole are served with crispy wonton chips. Not to be missed are the delicious Sweet Corn Fritters, melt-in-your-mouth nuggets that put ordinary corn bread to shame.
Other new items on the Prime Time menu include Wild West Shrimp Tacos, Spicy Chicken Bites, and Housemade Kettle Chips. Prices range from $3 to $5.
Accompanying the summer menus is a list of new cocktail specials, all priced at $5 (all day, every day, thanks to the way North Carolina writes its liquor laws). Entries include classic martinis and Cosmos, and the Prime Time Margarita, made with 1800 Silver 100% Blue Agave Tequila, organic agave nectar and fresh squeezed lime and lemon juices.
The Cucumber Mint Mojito, a combo of Cruzan Silver Rum and white cranberry juice hand-muddled with fresh cucumber and mint, made a nice accompaniment to the summer menu dishes we sampled. Our favorite, however, was the long, tall Angry Buck, composed a generous shot of Buck 8-year old bourbon topped with Angry Orchard hard cider and a cinnamon stick. The combination of flavors made the perfect summer refreshment – and was quite a bargain at $5.
9950 E. Independence Blvd.
Matthews, NC 28105