| Meat! |

This Week's Cafe Review: Meat and More Meat at La Casa Del Caballo

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I am not what one might call a steak aficionado. I like a good, medium rare steak on occasion, but it's not something I ever seek out. So when I ordered the Tapa de Lomo, a massive, four-pound hunk of ribeye intended to serve six, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. By the end of the meal, I found I had a new appreciation not only for steak, but also for the capacity of the human stomach.

The Tapa de Lomo is just one of the many steak offerings at Carlos Abedrop's new Mexican steakhouse, La Casa del Caballo, the subject of this week's café review. There's brisket and pork tenderloin, veal chops and lamb t-bone. The beauty of Abedrop's meat is partially in the superb cuts that he uses and partially the result of a light hand with seasoning, which lets the meat itself do all the talking.

All of the meat is cooked on a grill over mesquite wood, which gives it a nice smoky flavor, and it's seasoned with only salt and pepper, just the way Abedrop learned to cook it for his family in Mexico. The original La Casa del Caballo is in Abedrop's hometown of Saltillo, and from what I understand, it's got a different vibe than the classy joint where I dined in Montrose. It operates out of a converted ranch house, and the steaks are served family style on giant wooden platters. There's no menu, just steak. It's unpretentious and all about the food.

The Houston version is slightly more upscale with a black leather bar, a winding wrought iron staircase and an overly attentive but perfectly poised wait staff. It's intended to appeal to a Houston audience with Houston money. It's a special occasion kind of place.

This is not to imply that La Casa del Caballo is stuffy in any way. When my party of four erupted into fits of uproarious laughter on several occasions, we didn't feel that we were behaving improperly for the venue. The restaurant welcomes all manner of diners and drinkers eager for a hunk of Saltillo-style steak.

The steak is really what I come back to every time I think about La Casa del Caballo. Yes, it's what I would consider a fancy restaurant. Yes, it also serves Mexican food. Yes, the wine and cocktail lists are extensive. But, my God, that steak!

It took four of us only 20 minutes to devour more than four pounds of meat. We couldn't help ourselves. We couldn't stop. We left full and happy and already craving steak again.

It's meat this good that has afforded Abedrop such success first in Saltillo and now in Houston. It doesn't matter how its served or whether you eat it in a converted ranch house with paper towels for napkins or in a sleek red and black dining room with stained glass accents. All that matters is the meat.

Find out more about La Casa del Caballo in this week's Cafe Review.

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