Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, December 15, 2004
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A cool hang-out, full of affable patrons, that serves food that’s good, not great: The Star Lounge. (Photo by Jerry W. Hoefer)
Star Lounge Bar & Grill Mongolian beef $4.99 Chicken with broccoli $4.99 Beef lo mein $4.99
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Bates Hotel

Schizophrenic food makes a trip to the Star Lounge in Hurst a risk.

By PETER GORMAN

Star Lounge Bar & Grill 503 E Hurst Blvd, Hurst. 817-282-2226. Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm. All major credit cards accepted. Reopened last June after being closed for two years, the remodeled Star Lounge, which anchors the huge Lone Star Inn, on Hurst Boulevard, across the street from Bell Helicopter, is a great joint that also serves food. The bad thing is that the food’s merely OK. The Star Lounge — which has special nights throughout the week for karaoke, live acoustic music, and live dance music, and hosts games of poker for members of the local amateur league — also boasts three solid pool tables and one of the best two-board dart setups in the Fort Worth area. A comfortable bar facing the door dominates the spacious spot, whose walls are covered in burgundy-and-yellow floral print carpeting — talk about old-school Vegas. To one side of the bar is a small dance floor with a slightly raised stage. On the other side, bar tables and four-tops seat about 50. Facing the tables is a window looking into the kitchen. The menu is basic Chinese, accented by a few traditional American items (including different types of burgers and a chicken sandwich) and two daily Texas specials (such as rib-eye, catfish, pork chops, and chicken-fried steak). Orders are placed at the bar, which, one late afternoon last week, was crowded with affable working-class folks. Since the bulk of the menu is Chinese, that’s what was ordered. (Oddly, there are no pork dishes. No pork-fried rice. No pork lo mein. When the manager was asked why the Lounge doesn’t serve any Chinese pork faves, he said, “I don’t serve pork.” But what about the pork chops? “That’s different,” he said, without explaining why.) It’s a good thing there was a bar handy, because the food took about 30 minutes to arrive. The result? Fresh (if smallish in quantity, for Chinese food) and cheap but not too exciting. The beef lo mein — with thick rather than thin noodles, plenty of sliced beef, and good-sized pieces of onion — was amazingly bland. The same was true for the chicken with broccoli — crisp, fresh, bright green flowers mixed in a bed of sliced chicken and onion that looked great but was nearly tasteless, as if the cook forgot any hint of garlic or ginger or even salt, standard ingredients that, in the right hands, make this dish sparkle. The one exception to the flavorlessness was the Mongolian beef, which came out loaded with finely sliced, tartly marinated beef tossed with onions and garlic and mixed with lightly sautéed and still-crispy pieces of scallion. Good to both the eye and the palate. But the success of the Mongolian beef only made the other two failures — as well as the lackluster vegetable fried rice they were served with — stand out. How could the cook make one meal so delicious while letting the others leave the kitchen with no zip at all? It wasn’t that the food was bad. If you were having some beers on karaoke night or while watching football on one of the Lounge’s several televisions, it would be fine. But is it worth the drive to Hurst? Probably not.


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