Dining at Black Angus in El Cajon is more than just a meal, it is an adventure in flavors
Dinner for two, some extra plates and glasses to share, and an entire meal cooked to perfection from appetizers to dessert. Although this was not my first visit to the Black Angus Steakhouse in El Cajon, this was special as my party and I got a glimpse at its new fall features and more. It also gave me time to sit down with Black Angus Steakhouse District Manager Jeff Gadberry and El Cajon’s General Manager Randy Young. A staple go-to restaurant for many since its early beginnings, this fine eatery at a modest price has truly mastered its craft since 1964. Not only in its offerings, but also in keeping up with the community it serves constantly changing with the latest trends while still keeping the prime atmosphere of family dining.
Each quarter, at all four of Black Angus’ San Diego County locations, these new fall offerings include some specialty Jack Daniel cocktails, a Big Ranch 20 oz. T-bone steak and for dessert a pumpkin cheesecake. Expecting to get a sample of the fall specials, we were in for a treat as our menu was chef’s choice that included some of its most requested regular food items as well.
We began with appetizers and a cocktail. Recently hiring a new mixologist, Gadberry said was a great move for the company and the first thing that was changed was the portion of alcohol in its cocktails, adding an extra half-ounce to each than your standard pour.
Along with its artichoke appetizer, which was three full-sized half artichokes, we began our meal with its newly featured Old Fashioned Jack, with a heavy pour of Jack Daniels stirred with house-infused orange cinnamon bitters. This was a great combination for an Old Fashioned. The whiskey headlined the drink with a hint of sweetness that was not overbearing. For whiskey lovers, this was a great Old Fashion. But that was not all. The Jack’s Berry Margarita, which I would never think of mixing whiskey and tequila, stood its ground as a great accompaniment to any meal. With a JD twist, Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, handcrafted fresh lime agave mix, it is topped with a hit of cranberry juice and whiskey spiked cranberries. Both were equally as good, and complemented the grilled artichokes. Gadberry said people come in just for the artichokes alone, and it is easily understood why. They are broiled on an open flame, then sealed with butter and rock sauce and served with its house-made lemon aioli and basil pesto mayo for dipping. Something that really added to the flavor was the grilled lemon, once squeezed gave a unique broiled tasted to this delightful appetizer. This was a great start to a wonderful meal.
Moving on to the entrees, the chef brought out the Big Ranch 20 oz. T-bone steak and its popular no bone rib eye (which also comes with bone-in). Both ordered medium rare, these were grilled to perfection, tender, with the juices locked in bringing a swell of great beef taste. With the T-bone, served with au gratin potatoes and green beans with a touch of bacon is a great combination any time of the year, but with the special, a great time for anyone to give it a try. If you love beef, you will not be disappointed. Showing the difference between bone-in and bone-out, the rib eye came with broccoli and the house macaroni and cheese. The steak, served with a caramelized shallots & bleu cheese butter topper, added a great flavor to an already delectable steak. There is a large choice of Steakhouse Butters Toppers for your steak, but this one fit the rib eye wonderfully, needing no seasoning at all. And complimenting this steak dinner was Black Angus’ 9 oz. Large Cold-Water Atlantic Lobster Tail. This was purely delightful and fresh. Not touching the dipping butter at all, it had the slight taste of ocean that any great seafood should have and broiled perfectly needed nothing but the healthy flavor of fresh lobster. Undeniably a great combination of surf and turf, all cooked with care and excellence.
Along with the entrees came a BBQ Chopped Chicken salad that was a meal in itself, and a wonderful blend of flavors with the BBQ chicken, tomatoes, black beans, corn, shredded cheese, green onion and cilantro. Served with its house-made ranch dressing and a drizzle of BBQ sauce, this salad was refreshing and not overdone with dressings. Each bite was a burst of flavors and never did the dressing overpower the flavors of the ingredients of the salad.
Served with the entrees was its Tropical White Wine Sangria with a touch of mango, pineapple and spiced rum and a Front Porch Mule composed of Bulleit Rye, peach, fresh lemon and Q Ginger beer. These were great additions of flavor that complemented the entrees extremely well.
For the fall menu, the Pumpkin Cheesecake was rich in flavor and light to the stomach, a superb ending to an extraordinary meal. It was immediately apparent that this cheesecake was homemade, and baked to a light fluffy bite of wonderful flavor. With dessert came some of the most refreshing Mojitos. With a Classic Mojito and its Mango Mojito, unlike many that I have tried before, these were swimming with hand torn fresh mint and were perfect with a sweet dessert. Not only were they thirst quenching, but with the minty taste, a great cocktail to end with as it was cleansing.
The El Cajon location is clean, family and business oriented and the service above and beyond. Not only with our meal, but also in looking at what was being served around us, it all came as carefully prepared as the food we were served. Having been here before for its Prime Club lunches, the friendliness and performance of the staff, preparation of food puts Black Angus at the top of steak houses, but at a moderate pricing. All around, you get what you pay for and in this meal at full price is worth every penny spent.
Gadberry said the Prime Club, as a company is knocking on the door of around 900,000 members with the El Cajon store in particular has around 20,000, which is above average. For signing up you get a free steak dinner for your birthday, many offers, discounts, and some things offered only to Club members. There are some perks there like early reservations for holidays. It includes its Club lunch for $8.99 that includes the entire lunch menu with the exception of the “High Noon” section of the menu, which is a three-course lunch with appetizer and dessert. For a full service restaurant there is no better deal, said Gadberry, and I could not agree more. The lunch special is very popular and it is a great environment for business and friendly lunches. And the price cannot be beat with the many lunch offering on the menu that are all full sized portions.
Gadberry said that Thanksgiving truly is a Thanksgiving feast, and you do not have to clean up all the dishes when you get back home. But you need to book reservations now as it is already booking up. You can book online, or call the restaurant. The closer it gets to Thanksgiving, the tighter it is to get you in.
Black Angus has an incredible Happy Hour as well. It’s Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 7 p.m., and then all day on Tuesdays and Sundays in El Cajon. It is a tiered pricing, $4, $5, and $6 price points. It includes beverages and appetizer items.
“The one great thing we do here and I believe that is what making our Happy Hour so successful is that a lot of our competitors offer their food items at Happy Hour, discounted in price, but also discounted in portion,” said Gadberry. “We don’t do that. You get the same portion at a discounted price that you get off of our regular menu. We get a lot of couples come in and love the Happy Hour, they get different things and share them.”
There are four Black Angus Steakhouse locations in the San Diego County, El Cajon, Chula Vista, Mission Valley and Escondido. For more information about locations, the menu and joining the Prime Club, which I did, visit www.blackangus.com.