The stage was set for a memorable evening: a view of the city skyline framed by the Rocky Mountains, a 5 p.m. plate of meat-n-potatoes, and whiskey in a water glass.
This wasn’t a Diners Club fantasy. This was a new Friday tradition at a clubhouse of a Denver public golf course.
We get a lot of emails, pretty much all of them more important than the one that sent us on our mission. But when destiny knocked in the form of a subject line — “Prime Rib night at City Park Golf Course” — I couldn’t ignore my fate. With that promotional email I was off to write my very first food review.
I approached the brand new, modern-looking (that’s an architectural term) golf course restaurant wearing a tie and jacket because that’s what one does at a country club-like setting, right? My fellow reporter Esteban and I happened to arrive by foot at the same time. We were sort of taken aback by the number of cars in the parking lot. It was packed!
We met our colleague and friend Kevin and sat outside because of the pandemic (I was trolled for this decision after Denver’s spring February sun went down). We each ordered what I had been dreaming about for weeks, ever since the stock photo of a steak in my inbox made me salivate: a 9-ounce cut of prime rib.
Kevin and I ordered our steaks medium-rare, because there’s a weird, maybe toxic pride in eating red meat that we both must share. Also, it tastes good that way. Esteban ordered his meat — proudly, I should add — medium-well and received our ire with armor on. He likes his steak a little charred, and that’s OK, yet wrong.
The steak was so flavorful and tender (those are foodie terms). It came with au jus and horseradish sauce for dipping or pouring. Both were bomb, and E literally described the sauce as “explosive.”
These cuts did not need salt. The prime rib had a delicious blend of spices, which our very nice server specified was “some sort of seasoning.” She said she would ask the chef for details, but he was maybe busy and possibly annoyed. We all really liked the idea of a grumpy chef cooking nice steak at a golf club restaurant. Also, it didn’t matter what the stuff was made of because our taste buds didn’t care.
The 9-ounce prime rib will run you — or, in our case, our employer — $16.95. There’s a 12-ounce adult cut available for $19.95. It’s a pretty good deal! That’s because each plate comes with two sides, three if you include the delicious roll. Esteban ordered veggies and fries, Kevin ordered a Caesar salad and a baked potato with the works (cheese, bacon and sour cream), and I ordered a salad and fries. The potato looked incredible, but we all agreed that the fries were the side de resistance. Perfectly crispy on the outside and mashed potatoey on the interior.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. But to be taken seriously as a food critic, I must be critical. So I will say this: There were disagreements about the food’s presentation. Esteban described the look as a “fancy high school dinner.” I felt very contented with the display. Kevin summed it up well: There was nothing wrong with it, and that it represented something we all know exists but don’t talk about much: “Denver fancy.” Think jeans and a collared shirt, maybe with a tie, that will suffice at even the city’s nicest spots. And anyway, even if the presentation was lackluster, the view made up for it.
“This is a future Tinder date spot for me once cases are way down and I’m vaccinated,” Esteban said.
By the way, we masked up and went inside when it got cold. The tables, which were fewer and far between because of the coronavirus, were packed with people. And a lot of them were kind of dressed up! It was Friday night.
Turns out prime rib night is also a magnet for Old Denver and some civically engaged types. Some movers and shakers were there, including two graduates of East High School who informed us that Bogey’s, the old City Park Golf Course restaurant and bar before it was all redesigned, was quite the place to be. One reviewer described it as “a secret oasis.”
I’d describe this unlikely gem as an oasis, though I wouldn’t describe it as secret, because it should be known to everyone. No one should be denied prime rib night at the municipal golf course. Maybe, like we did, you can talk about local politics and close the place down.
Prime rib night is every Friday. The clubhouse is also open on other days, including weekends for breakfast and lunch.