Commence your weekend with starter such as crawfish-and-artichoke dip ($12) or a bacon-chocked steakhouse salad with green-peppercorn buttermilk dressing ($7). Entree salads include larger, decadent options like the McIlhenny, masa-fried oysters over greens with homemade buttermilk dressing and McIlhenny tabasco chipotle ($11), or a Southern fried-chicken salad with a Jack Daniel's mustard vinaigrette ($10.50). Get back on the meatwagon with the steakhouse bacon cheeseburger ($9.50) or the blackened prime rib, served with roasted-pepper and portobello-mushroom salad ($24), or dive below the surface of the plate for barbecue shrimp smothered in Abita Amber sauce ($16.50).
Against a backdrop of burnished wood walls, an intricately wrought gilded frame surrounds a Budweiser poster. This playful contrast between sophistication and informality extends to the rest of the dining room, where candles cast circles of light on crisp white tablecloths and a wood-beam ceiling as crowds enjoy live rock music played during happy hour.
When it comes to the cuisine, chefs prepare the same steakhouse fare they unveiled in 1969. Succulent slabs of steak cook on the grill alongside fresh seafood dishes, which are then topped with elegant flourishes such as crawfish rémoulade or jumbo lump crabmeat in the shape of a top hat.
This meatark of USDA-graded steaks includes four bacon-wrapped 9-ounce filets, four center-cut sirloins, four 10-ounce New York strips, four flat-iron tenders, six mixed sirloin/filet chopped steaks, and two 17-ounce porterhouses. Ponderosa's steaks are cut from the finest top third of the cattle class of 2010, then flash frozen and sealed in special Cyrovac bags that preserve the meat's red perfection for up to two years with nary a spot of freezer burn. With no nasty preservatives, Ponderosa's steaks taste fresh-picked off the animal, delicious all the way down to the T-bone.
The Grill's seafood-slinging menu draws on locally sourced ingredients to offer fresh dishes with Louisiana flair. Try out an appetizer of Louisiana catfish strips with green onion tartar sauce ($7) to hold your dinner at bay. For the main course, steer your mouth into a hearty entree of crab cakes with roasted corn maque choux ($12), or lead your hunger to wrack and ruin along the mighty reefs of the riverbend chicken, with crawfish tail and portobello sauté ($14). Order the grilled fish of the day and surprise your face with the freshest catch, served with lemon butter sauce, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus ($19). For a classic Louisiana dish that will fill you up and completely obliterate your cravings, order the shrimp and cheddar grits, with hickory bacon and green onion ($14).