Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Black Steer/Rear of the Steer

The Black Steer, located at 436 N. Lincoln Avenue in Loveland, Colorado, has been in business in the same location since 1966. The bar portion of the restaurant, aptly named The Rear of the Steer, is found in the back (east side) of the restaurant and offers the same menu as the Black Steer (

She said...I don't recall ever having been to the Black Steer even though I grew up in Northern Colorado but I do remember it being a big deal when my parents went out to dinner. I'm not sure what I expected, but having been primed for a primo meal by my parents' feedback when I was a kid, I'm sure my expectations were higher than normal.

It was very hot outside on the day we went to the Black Steer, so stepping into the cool dimness of the restaurant offered welcome relief. We entered through the east entrance, The Rear of the Steer, and my first impression was that the bar was immaculate. I purposely started looking for spots on glasses and spills on the bar top and there were none. The bar truly was spotless.

As we waited at the host station to be seated, I experienced a bout of deja vu and then it hit me...The Black Steer is a clone of Fort Collins' Charco-Broiler. The dark wood paneling, cork board, and dark leather covered booths are identical to the Charco-Broiler (, established in 1957. The sense of deja vu was so strong that I called for confirmation immediately after we left the restaurant that they were initially opened by the same owners, though I didn't think to ask our server while we were there if the two restaurants are still owned by the same family.

The dinner menu consisted of a good variety of steak, seafood and chicken. My only requirement when we were choosing a restaurant to review was that I had to be able to get a cold, crisp salad...and a good entree.

I chose their "Signature Steak", the Pepper Steak, which came with the required salad, and a choice of starch. The salad was simple; iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots and, in place of croutons, Corn Chex. While the Chex gave an interesting texture to the salad, I'm not sure I really enjoyed them with my Ranch dressing. The salad was served with an individual roll for each of us and being the bread lover I am, I loved it.

Our meals were prepared without pretension or imagination in plating. My plate simply had my steak (complete with parsley garnish), foil-wrapped baked potato, and a slice of watermelon. Two solo cups; one with butter and one with chive sour cream were also placed on the plate.

The Pepper Steak was well cooked and had a good flavor. While my palate is not nearly as well defined as my companion's, I detected green chile in the flavoring, which I enjoyed. I would have preferred a bit more of a cracked pepper corn crust on my steak, but then I believe that black pepper is a gift from God.

My baked potato, however, was a disappointment. It was still hard and in order to work the butter in, I had to cut it into pieces with my knife rather than just mashing it with my fork. I love a properly baked potato loaded with melted butter, salt and pepper. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I did not get.

Overall, my impression of The Black Steer is lukewarm. The decor was dark and outdated; the service was adequate, not spectacular; the food, again, was adequate, not spectacular; and the price was right in line with a mediocre steakhouse. I can't say that The Black Steer was my least favorite place to eat, but I can't say that I'll be clamoring to return anytime soon.