Monday, December 14th, 2009
The fourth of the Stark Reality Restaurants, this classic steakhouse emphasizes organic, dry aged, grass-fed cuts of beef. The menu has expanded to include plenty of other Stark-tastic entrees –from crab “tater tots” to black and blue ahi tuna steaks. The restaurant continues to evolve, with a loyal “uptown” happy hour cocktail crowd and steakhouse fans who crave their meaty burgers and buttery Parkerhosue rolls. Don’t skimp on the sides, they’re all worth the calories. And, of course, the Stark’s are known for their creative cocktails.
MORE: If the shark has indeed jumped on retro-chic steak joints, nobody told Santa Rosa. Mark and Terri Stark’s Railroad Square steakhouse is The Place to pony-up for organic, dry aged, corn and grass-fed cuts of beef hand-picked by the city’s favorite chef.
You’ll get the Bogie-and-Bacall vibe right away. Manhattans, aged whiskies and absinthe are served by white-coated bar staff. The seats are leather. Wedge salad and creamed spinach are side staples. A baby grand sits in the corner waiting to tinkle out a tune or two.
Housed in the former Michele’s restaurant, the couple (who also own the highly-rated Willi’s Wine Bar and Willi’s Seafood in Healdsburg) gutted the historic spot, pretty much starting from scratch. It’s still a massive space, divided between white-tablecloth restaurant service and a happy-hour friendly bistro/lounge with frequent live music.
Steaks are what you’re here for. Don’t be shy if you don’t know the difference between filet mignon, ribeye, New York Strip, grass-fed or corn-fed. Staff are happy to explain the cuts and preparation. Guild the lily with a topper of foie gras, roasted bone marrow or a blue cheese butterball along with a side of Béarnaise, Boursin cheese or truffle aioli. (We won’t tell.) Don’t miss the sides — a Stark staple — in your hurry to order. Creamed spinach, truffled fries and mac & cheese are more than just add-ons. They’re a requirement.
The restaurant has some amazing happy hour deals during the week and a special favorite is the Chef’s Happy Meal: Steak tartare, fries and a toy.
A steak dinner will put you back a couple Benjamins, easily. But what’s it worth to be whisked back to a time when red meat, butter and whiskey were practically health food? A time when bartenders dressed in white coats. And going out for dinner was an event, not an excuse.
Stark’s Steakhouse, 521 Adams St., Santa Rosa, 707.546.5100. Weekday lunches , 11:30am to 2:30 pm; dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 9pm and Friday and Saturday dinners until 10pm.