During the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, we got a tip on a steak house that we needed to try - Brook's Steak House, one of the more popular and upscale steak places in the greater Denver area. It was a 10 minute ride to the restaurant from our hotel and a big slab of good meat.
Brook's Steak House has won numerous awards since it was opened in the early 90's by Bob Melton and Joe Kaiton. They feature prime USDA beef that is aged a minimum of 21 days before it's served to their customers. Brook's also has a wine cellar that features over 1000 different varieties of wine. The restaurant is classy, has a lot of wood paneling and has a very manly feel to the place. The main dining area is sunken into the center of the restaurant with the bar area on one side with private dining areas toward the back.
Brook's Steak House is located in Greenwood Village, a suburb south and east of Denver (see map). They feature valet parking, but we opted to park in the parking lot in the back of the restaurant. There were six of us that were seated by the hostess around a large circular table with a heavy linen table cloth. This already rivaled some of the more fancy steak houses I've had the pleasure to visit.
We were given our menus and they featured well over a dozen different varieties of steaks to choose from. They also offered some seafood entrees including crab legs, lobster tails, shrimp and scallops. They had some delectable sounding salads including a caprese salad, their famous house salad and their take on a Caesar's salad, complete with anchovies upon request. We decided to get some appetizers to tide us over. We ordered up some seared ahi tuna slices and calamari as we looked through the rest of the menu.
My boss, Daniel, was looking through the extensive wine list. He looked at me and said, "What do you say when you think the prices are high? Something about them being proud?"
I said, "You mean, something like, 'They're very proud of their wine list?' "
He said, "Yes, they're very proud of their wine list." I've never known Daniel to be stunned by the prices of anything on a menu before and I've worked for him over seven years. But the wine list at Brook's widened his eyes more than once.
My colleague, Ian, took the book from him, his eyes widened and he said, "Holy f***! They ARE proud of their wine list here!"
He gave me the book and I was just floored at some of the high prices they had for their wine. Bottles of wine that I know are $70 to $85 dollars in restaurants that we'd been in over the past few weeks were suddenly $120 to $150 a bottle. I gave the book back to Ian and I said, "Man, I'm scared to pick anything out. All the bottles that I recognize are obscenely overpriced."
Ian did find a bottle of an Italian red that he thought would be a good bargain at $72 a bottle. He said, "I'm thinking they're trying to get rid of it because it's getting toward the end of its shelf life." So he ordered up a bottle of that.
The waiter brought the bottle of wine to the table and opened it up. Ian took a sip to check it out and he said, "Eww... Well, it's going to have to open up a lot before it's drinkable." The waiter poured wine for the table. The appetizers came and went. We ordered up dinner. Our salads were brought out to us. The wine had not opened up. It had gone bad on the shelf.
Ian motioned for the waiter to come over. He said, "Tell your sommelier that this wine needs to go to the kitchen for the chefs to cook with it. It has expired." The waiter brought the wine list back to the table and handed it to Ian, who promptly handed it to Daniel. Daniel laughed as he took the menu and said to Ian, "Chicken!"
I said, "D.J., I don't need wine. I can drink beer." A couple of the other guys echoed my offer.
Daniel said, "Oh, nonsense. Let's just get a good bottle of wine. I'll just hold my nose when I order it." And he did order a nice bottle of wine - a French wine that he was familiar with. He said, "This is three times more expensive than when I got the same bottle of wine earlier this year."
And they're proud of their main entrees, as well. Let's just say this wasn't going to be a cheap night. For dinner, I ordered up the filet mignon, rare-plus. I believe the price was $42 dollars. I had contemplated the bone-in rib eye, but the filet was just calling me. A couple of my colleagues did order up the bone-in rib eye, while another ordered the porterhouse. Two others also got the 14 oz. tenderloin filet. I ordered up a wedge salad with Maytag blue cheese dressing. And Brook's offers a number of sides that are big enough to share. We ordered onion rings, sauteed mushrooms and potatoes au gratin.
The waiter brought back the new bottle of wine and he was accompanied by the general manager for Brook's. She said, "Gentlemen, I understand the first bottle of wine you got had turned. I'm truly sorry for that. Of course, we won't charge you for that bottle."
Ian said, "I suggested to (the waiter) that he needed to take those bottles to the chef to use them to cook with."
She said, "Oh, we'll probably just throw them out. We only have a handful of bottles left."
The wine that Daniel had picked out turned out to be a winner. It was rich and full bodied. Even before it had opened up a bit, it still had a robust taste. I really need to get more familiar with French wines.
Our salads came out and my wedge salad was exceptional. The Maytag blue cheese dressing was a wonderful taste sensation. The lettuce was fresh and cold. It was a very, very good salad.
Our steaks came out and I have to say that my steak was good. I don't know if it was worth the price they charged, but it was very tender, juicy and flavorful. It was very easy to cut with the large steak knife they provided at the table.
Everyone declared their steaks as "good". We all thought, however, that it was a little expensive for what was offered.
I tried a couple bites of the au gratin potatoes, which were very good. The sauteed mushrooms went quickly and we ordered up a second helping of those. They went very well with our steaks. And I had a couple of onion rings - the good ol' greasy steak house type of onion rings.
Overall, our meal was very good at Brook's Steak House. We all thought it was overly expensive for what it was, but it was still a very classy place. The wine prices were outrageous, in my opinion. I can see why it has been named one of the Great Steak Houses in North America, as it rivaled a number of other great steak places I've eaten in. Even with the wine snafu, it was still good. But a good value? I'm sorry I wasn't THAT impressed. Brook's Steak House was certainly proud of themselves.