I went to a modern Texas steakhouse for the first time. Here are 7 things that surprised me about my $100 meal.

  • On a recent trip to Dallas, I ate at a modern Texas steakhouse, Knife.

  • The restaurant surprised me with its upscale, fine-dining approach and free appetizers.

  • My meat was a little rarer than I would have liked, but I was surprised that I didn't mind at all.

I'm a New Yorker who recently visited Dallas for the first time. Over the years, I've been to quite a few New York steakhouses and am pretty familiar with what to expect from the experience.

However, while I've visited Austin and Houston before, I've never eaten at a Texas steakhouse. During my research, I came across Knife, a modern take on a classic steakhouse that offers a wide variety of steaks and sides with a more elevated feel.

Knife is the brainchild of James Beard nominee, Top Chef alum, and Michelin-starred celebrity chef John Tesar.

Anthony Bourdain once called Tesar "the single most talented cook I ever worked with," according to D Magazine, so I had high expectations.

Knife surprised me with its modern approach and free appetizers. However, perhaps the most surprising thing about my meal was the cost — dining alone, I spent over $100 and didn't even order dessert.

Here are seven things that surprised me about my experience.

The first surprising thing I encountered at Knife was the location — it was inside a hotel, albeit a glamorous one.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The lobby of The Highland Dallas.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

When I pictured my first experience at a steakhouse in Texas, I envisioned a large, rustic building with brick and moody interiors.

I did get some of that, but because Knife is a more modern take on a Texas steakhouse, the aesthetic was a little different. Still, I was surprised when I pulled up to the restaurant to find it was inside The Highland Dallas, a Hilton-owned hotel.

"Knife is a meat restaurant. Texas has its fill of steakhouses. We have some of the best steaks around, but for me, the vision of Knife was to be a little different," Tesar told Inside Entertainment in 2014, about a month after the restaurant's grand opening.

I was also surprised to be sat at the counter, where I could watch all the cooking happening right in front of me.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
A chef preparing food at Knife in Dallas.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I could actually see the chefs at the restaurant preparing each dish, including my own. Since I was dining by myself, this was a happy surprise — it provided something to keep me entertained while I ate my meal.

I was also surprised by the free appetizer I received.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The free crudité appetizer at Knife.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The crudité appetizer included carrots, cut cucumbers, celery, and a creamy green-goddess dipping sauce. The vegetables were among the freshest I've ever tasted, and it was a delightful palate cleanser before the rest of my meat-heavy meal.

However, I was surprisingly disappointed by the bread.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The bread at Knife.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The bread had a nice flavor to it, as did the small dish of butter that accompanied it, but the bread was cold when it arrived at the table. I know not every restaurant warms their bread before serving, but the temperature gave the bread a slightly stale taste that I wasn't personally fond of.

However, it was only the free bread basket, so I couldn't complain too much.

I liked the side Caesar salad more than I expected to.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The Caesar salad from Knife.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I ordered a Caesar salad because it seemed like a quintessential steakhouse appetizer, and because I've had the dish at other steakhouses before.

However, when I've ordered Caesar salad at other steakhouses, I've very rarely considered the salad something to call home about.

Iceberg lettuce can be flavorless, the dressing can be too overpowering, and there's nothing worse than biting into an out-of-the-bag crouton.

However, the Caesar salad at Knife really blew me away. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, the dressing was light and creamy and tasted distinctly of anchovies, and a gentle powdering of Parmesan cheese brought the salad together.

I expected it to simply be a one-note addition to my meal, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The steak was a little more rare than I would have liked, but I didn't mind.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The petite filet from Knife.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I ordered my steak — a 6-ounce filet from 44 Farms in Cameron, Texasmedium-rare. When I sliced into it and saw that it was a little rarer than I'm used to, I got a touch nervous.

However, I'm not a stickler about meat rarity, and I decided to try it anyway rather than sending it back.

The filet had a delicious crust on the outside, but the center of the cut was juicy and extremely flavorful. The cook on the steak was still a touch rarer than I would have preferred, but I was surprised by how much I liked it.

I was surprised by how pricey the meal was, especially for one person.

Knife Steakhouse in Dallas Texas
The menu at Knife.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

Given that Knife is one of the buzziest and most luxe steakhouses in Dallas, I expected to pay more than I typically would dining out.

I was still a little taken aback when I saw my meal cost over $100, especially since I hadn't even ordered dessert.

However, this price was pretty comparable to what I've paid at similar-caliber steakhouses in New York City, and I do think my meal was completely worth the cost, so it was a fair price.

The filet was among the best cuts of meat I've ever had. I loved the addition of the complimentary crudité, and the sides I tried were superb. The service was also impeccable.

However, eating inside a hotel — albeit, a luxurious one — was a slight drawback, and I wish my steak had been cooked just a minute or two longer.

Knife Dallas did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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