Compensation was provided by Houlihan’s via MomTrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Houlihan’s or Momtrends.
Despite our best efforts and good intentions, my husband and I just don’t get out alone together for dinner very much. We do lunches a lot more often – now that the kids are in school, it’s easy to meet up at a fast food joint and grab a quick bite. But there’s something special about going out for a nice meal together and enjoying some quality kid-free time with each other.
This week, we had the chance to go out and try a restaurant that we’d never been to before – Houlihan’s, thanks to MomTrends. I was provided with a gift card to try them out, and we jumped at the chance to get out together, have a nice dinner and hopefully add a new restaurant to our list of favorites.
Houlihan’s is a restaurant that’s got a casual-style vibe (no dressing up necessary), but offers the menu options and quality of a fine dining establishment. They have a full bar and provide outdoor seating (weather permitting – NOT an option here in Michigan in February. Especially this year…). The menu is varied, with beef, seafood, salads, sandwiches and what I would call ‘traditional’ dinner options. There are both vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.
Established in 1972, Houlihan’s is a progressive concept that bridges the gap between fine dining and what people have come to expect from casual dining, priding itself on style and quality. Houlihan’s offers guests a design-forward atmosphere featuring a curated indie music soundtrack, an eclectic menu designed for modern lifestyles, and an energetic scene. Houlihan’s crafts dishes made from scratch with assertive flavors and offers creative, diverse cocktails and wine selections, with many of its locations garnering ‘best happy hour’ awards from local media outlets. Currently, 83 Houlihan’s restaurants operate throughout the country, 52 of which are franchised. Houlihan’s is owned by Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc. of Leawood, Kansas, which developed and owns several restaurant concepts comprising of approximately 100 locations coast-to-coast, including Devon Seafood Grill and J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks.
Houlihan’s has just introduced their new specials menu (available for a limited time) that contains “craveable lighter fare items” – this menu features choices that each contain less than 590 calories, and includes entrees, desserts and cocktails that don’t skimp on flavor.
I was impressed with the food, the service and the ambiance at our local Houlihan’s restaurant when my husband and I went there for dinner last night. We left the kids at home (one big benefit of the girls getting older is that we can leave Abbi and Hannah in charge with no need to schedule or pay for babysitters. <grin>) and ventured out for a much-needed and long overdue date night.
We were immediately seated – the place wasn’t empty by any means but there was no wait, which is probably typical for a weeknight evening. Our booth was comfortable and well-lit – in fact, we both noticed the lighting, which was well-placed to offer plenty of light at our table but still gave us a feeling of privacy from the other diners. As an um, fairly short person, I always hate when booth seats are low – it’s very frustrating to eat when your meal is at chest height and you feel like a little kid at a too-big table. The booth we had at Houlihan’s was the perfect height – both me and my 6-foot husband were comfortable. The music that’s played at Houlihan’s is worth noting – they pride themselves on an eclectic mix that you’re not likely to find many places elsewhere, “We draw from indie pop, modern soul, adult alternative, and light electronica to bring you a contemporary sound that radio tends to overlook in favor of formulaic and worn out top 40 mainstream hits.”
As we don’t get out to ‘nice’ restaurants as often as we would like, it was a pleasure to be able to choose from such a varied menu. My ‘meat and potatoes’ husband stayed in his comfort zone and ordered the 9-ounce Top Sirloin steak with a double helping of Honest Gold Mashed Potatoes. I debated between several options but ended up selecting the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with the mashed potatoes and also a side of grilled asparagus. My meal did not come with a salad (except as an optional extra purchase) but our server had no problem with Ron giving his salad to me since he doesn’t eat them and I do. I opted for the caesar side salad.
The food itself was wonderful. We both ate every bite of our entrees. I tasted a bite of Ron’s steak (it was sooo good) and he tried a small bit of asparagus (he’s not a fan, but I gave him props for trying it. I loved it!). We’re not drinkers, so I can’t speak to the adult beverage menu at all – I just had a Diet Coke and Ron went with water since he’s given up caffeine and soft drinks lately. We looked through the dessert menu and ended up taking an order of ‘Donuggets’ to go so we could take them home to share with the girls. Donuggets are essentially cinnamon-sugar donut holes, kind of like a mini elephant ear. They come with a hot caramel sauce for dipping – and let’s just say that if we hadn’t been pleasantly stuffed from our meals, the Donuggets might not have made it home for the kids. Yummm….
Overall, we were both very impressed and satisfied with our date night at Houlihan’s. The staff were all courteous and our server was right on top of everything. She asked specific questions about exactly how Ron wanted his steak cooked (he always wants it ‘between medium and medium well’ and it came out perfectly) and was right there with refills, to remove plates, etc. without being overly in our faces. Again, it was a weeknight and they weren’t too busy, but I got the sense that the staff could handle crowds well when necessary.
Our bill came to just under the $50 of the gift card that we had to spend, which we felt was very reasonable. The server knew exactly how to accommodate our putting a portion of the tip on our debit card, which was exceedingly helpful. If we’d skipped the dessert, the gift card would have covered the tip as well.
I was curious for future reference as to whether Houlihan’s offers a kids menu. Not that it’s someplace I’d probably pick as a first choice to take kids, especially young ones, but now that the girls are older, it’s good to have more varied options for family dinners out as well. I didn’t see any kids when we went in there, but they do have a kids menu. According to the FAQ on their website, “…some stores may even offer discounted kids’ meals on certain days or times (just contact the restaurant for specifics). Items include chicken fingers, pizza, corn dogs, burgers, mac and cheese, and all meals come with veggies and dip, a kids’ beverage and ice cream for dessert”. It seems pretty basic and includes items that all of my girls would like, so I’ll definitely have to check into whether our Houlihan’s does the discounted meals at all.
Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below to win a $50 gift card to try out Houlihan’s for yourself! Must be 18+ years and a US resident (ideally living near a Houlihan’s – you can check their website to find out). The giveaway will run through March 8, 2014. Good luck!