Atmosphere: Rustic and relaxed; steak, seafood and ribs menu.
Price Range: Steak dinners from $7.75 for petite sirloin to $14.95 for porterhouse; seafood from $7.95 for scallops baked in cream to $13.50 for lobster tail with crabmeat filling, specialties include prime ribs of beef for $8.75 or $10.95, barbecued chicken for $6.50 and baby pork ribs for $8.50.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Reservations: Suggested on weekends, not needed during the week.
Special Facilities: Booster seats, parking lot four steps below restaurant level.
Let's face it. We Americans like a hearty dose of red meat once in a while. No matter how many unusual and fashionable ethnic restaurants crop up, dining out for many families still means going out for a good steak. And that's exactly what J.R.'s Stockyards Inn specializes in.
J.R.'s cannot really be classified as a family restaurant, at least not in price, since the tab for dinner may end up stretching the family budget. Children are welcome, however, and are treated royally, from cherries in their colas to offers of doggy bags. In fact, the service at J.R.'s is the most attentive we've encountered in quite a while.
The restaurant looks like a big red barn sitting across several parking lots from Tysons Corner Shopping Center. The barn theme is carried out inside, with farm implements like horse collars and plow handles displayed on the paneled walls and chandeliers made from wagon wheels. A slightly disconcerting but amusing note is taped music from the Big Band era -- Jimmy Dorsey when one is expecting Gene Autrey.
The menu is streamlined, concentrating on beef, seafood and a few barbecued items. Included in each order are a crock of Wispride cheese; crackers; a small loaf of warm French bread and mixed salad in a wooden bowl the size of a Frisbee. The house dressing is good, sweet and tangy with a hint of garlic that blends nicely with the bacon and olives that embellish the salad greens.
As for the main course, steaks get the high marks, perhaps predictably so when they are obviously a matter of pride at J.R.'s. In the foyer, for example, a glass case displays the various special cuts of beef that are available. And the restaurant staff takes care to see that the beef is cooked precisely to order.
One cut, the sirloin, is brought to the table sizzling in a frying pan set on a wooden mat. Not exactly gracious living, but it does keep the meat hot. And only a cliche will serve -- the steak is thick and juicy.
Prime ribs of beef are almost as good, tender as butter and swimming, not drowning, in juices. The ribs might be a bit overseasoned for some tastes.
Barbecued selections are a disappointment. A slab of baby ribs of Canadian pork is meaty, but the sauce in which it is bathed is too sweet. The dish needs more tang to go with its distinctive hickory-smoked flavor.
A half chicken is also hickory-smoked and in the same sauce, accompanied, like the ribs, by unremarkable rice. Both the chicken and ribs can be messy, so a damp towel and a lemon slice are thoughtfully provided for cleanups.
A la carte items include salad, side orders and a range of appetizers from slightly salty onion soup for $1.50 to sherried brie for two for $4.95. Noteworthy among the desserts are rich chocolate chocolate-chip Haagen-Dazs ice cream, $1.35, and creamy cheese-cake marbled with caramel, $1.45.
There is no children's menu, but a child's cut of prime ribs is available for $4.95. It is a good buy for a child with a hearty appetite because the ribs are not far from adult-sized and come with a baked potato and the enormous salad. Also, an order will be split betwen two children if requested. By judicious sharing, a family of four can dine for under $30.