BlackRock Steakhouse (Springfield, VT)

At one point last summer, my friend Geoff declared “I’m craving a good steak”. Well, aside from Jesse’s Steakhouse in Hanover, NH, the general Upper Valley region doesn’t have a lot of steakhouses. But in the interest of getting out and about, and trying a few other places, this drew our attention to the other major “Steak House” in the Upper Valley: BlackRock Steakhouse in Springfield, VT.

To use their own description, BlackRock Steakhouse is basically your standard old-school steakhouse, with one notable twist: many of their menu items are available either cooked by the kitchen staff, or delivered to you table served on a hot “black rock”, allowing you to cook it tableside to your own tastes. While we weren’t terribly sold on that concept, the menu looked inviting enough for us to drive down to Springfield, check out Vermont Beer Makers, and then drive over to BlackRock to check them out.

One thing I immediately enjoyed about BlackRock was a menu item I’ve traditionally always associated with old-school restaurants, and that’s popovers. Right at the beginning of the meal, they delivered a basket of fresh, warm popovers. These were quite delicious, crispy and warm, coming in a close second to my favorite local source, Four Aces Diner (which is over-due for a re-visit).

Rounding out our starter, I opted for a Caesar salad. While not being particularly fancy, I’ll have to give some credit here for being one of the places around here that doesn’t overdress a Caesar: this had just the right amount of dressing, and was well-mixed.

We also went for a wedge salad, since that’s definitely one of my old-school weaknesses: a nice wedge of lettuce dressed with blue cheese and a lot of bacon. Here, our salad was notable for two differences: they grilled the lettuce (an unusual choice, but one that worked well with this particular lettuce), and they served it up without any blue cheese dressing. The latter turned out to have been a kitchen error that was quickly resolved, however, and I ended up rather enjoying this wedge, even with the unusual grilled presentation.

Another pleasant surprise at BlackRock was our order of oysters; in rural VT oysters are always a bit hit and miss, but these were good, fresh, and nicely cleaned. Served with a straightforward mignonette, these certainly hit the spot, and I wouldn’t hesitate to get these on a future visit.

For the main course, while I was really tempted by the prime rib (which looked really good when my fellow diners ordered it), I ended up going for another favorite of mine at a good steakhouse: a hanger steak. While I almost went for the house “on the rock” service and cooking it table-side, I was curious how well the kitchen could grill a steak, and a hanger steak is always a good benchmark: if either over- or under-cooked it tends to be a bit tough, but BlackRock served this up perfectly medium-rare with a great sear on it. While I might try for a different side next time, this was certainly a well-prepared steak, and at a reasonable price.

There was one other star of the meal, and that was Carol’s lobster mac and cheese. Everything worked well here: a very nicely executed cavatappi-based mac and cheese with a nice bechamel-and-cheese sauce, the actual mac and cheese was just about what I hope for at a nice restaurant, and the lobster was a rather nice addition here, nicely poached and tender.

Overall, I was pleased with BlackRock; it’s good to know there’s another reasonable steakhouse in driving range, the prices reasonable, and all of our steaks were nicely prepared. I’ll have to consider doing a followup visit the next time we need dinner in the area.

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