Last night for dinner Jam Guy and I went to Stark's, an unexpectedly fantastic steakhouse just a few blocks from our house. We were walking back from meeting some friends at a wine bar nearby, and I was giddy from having walked around all day talking to hotels about block rates for our wedding guests--my first sort of official action as a bride-to-be--and we were hungry. I mentioned the dubious-looking old dive I'd seen while jogging around the neighborhood; I really like dive bars, and I figured it was worth a try since it was so nearby. There are a few old, incongruous businesses in the residential area just across the creek from us; I figured the dive was from that era--kind of one of those ugly-but-neat spots that stays because of its history and entrenchment in the community.
Turns out Stark's is not a dubious old dive; rather, it is a fancy fine-dining restaurant constructed to LOOK like a dubious old dive, opened just this year by a team that's opened a few other successful restaurants in the area. This sounds just too cheesy to be any good, I know, but the menu sounded awfully appealing, and we were starving.
Inside felt like a speakeasy from an old movie. There were like a million whiskey bottles on the lighted shelves behind the bar, cushy leather chairs, a whole menu of classic cocktails like the Vieux Carré--a mixture of rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Peychaud's and Angostura bitters, one of which pretty much knocked me into idiotville--and a Moscow Mule, made somewhat atraditionally with vodka, ginger syrup and lime. Jam Guy had two of those and was very happy; it's nice to be able to walk home.
The specialty at Stark's Steakhouse is, of course, the steak, which is dry-aged and has topper options like roasted bone marrow and a truffled egg--and while we will remember those next time we want big slabs of meat (which is not infrequently), we were more interested in making up our own little tasting menu and sharing a bunch of small plates. We got a half dozen lovely oysters on the half-shell, a plate of steak tartare which I'd never had before but I now LOVE and have been thinking about all day, a crabcake because the waitress said it was the best she'd ever had (and it was very good), a butter lettuce salad, and these crazy-good chicken-fried onion rings, with which we ordered black truffle aioli and also an herbed boursin sauce for dipping them in. Man it was good.
Then we decided we were stuffed, until the waitress brought the dessert menu. The entire menu looked good, but we decided on a butterscotch creme brulée that was kind of geniusly paired with kettle corn. Kettle corn in my teeth makes me fretful, but it was worth it.
I can't wait to go back for lunch, when they have what looks like a fantastic burger menu.
Today we went to a wedding at a beautiful winery near Sacramento where during the ceremony I was a total useless weepy soggy mess, with nothing but a couple of quickly-disintegrated Whole Foods napkins in my purse. It was a beautiful ceremony and fun reception; I drank too much wine and we giggled most of the way home, and now I am very sleepy. I am excited to get married.