One glance at the menu at Butcher Block Steakhouse, the newest venture by owners of Riley’s, and it would seem that they have added yet another option for bar fare to the scene in Cedar Rapids. Read closer, though. They’ve taken the typical burgers, sandwiches and fries up a notch. The mac and cheese is kicking. The bacon is pecan bacon. The BLT boasts ingredients like fried green tomatoes. And their sweet potato fries are practically candied.
Based on the name, I was expecting a menu of steaks and a few salads. Instead, they offer variety of burgers, chicken sandwiches, steaks and an array of sides. Choose bar side seating and watch the fish move about in the large tank behind the bar or sit in the dining room with black and white framed classics.
The lunch menu excludes steaks and entree items, but the variety of sandwiches and burgers are enough to satisfy. The mildly seasoned burgers threaten to be bland, but all the flavorful toppings are a saving grace. The Farmhouse burger is topped with asparagus, red pepper and pepper jack cheese. The Bam Bam Chicken is topped with cheese, pecan bacon and served atop a pretzel bun. The Mount Tot is aptly named and built with towering layers of meats, cheese, chili and tater tots. A co-worker decided that it was great, but probably should be avoided when wearing a white shirt. With all of these options, I forgot to even look at the salads. Oops. And I haven’t tried it yet, but next on my list is the Cuban, after hearing “it’s fantastic.”
On another visit for dinner we sat in our spacious booth. We were served a basket of peanuts and warm rolls with honey butter.
For dinner, the menu includes steaks, ribs and additional entrees such as seafood. The beer menu included selections from Iowa brewers like Coralville’s Back Pocket, Amana’s Millstream and Peace Tree Brewery, near Des Moines. There are also selections from Iowa wineries and distilleries.
After debating between a sandwich monstrosity, ribs or steak, I instead chose the catfish, a bowl of red pepper bisque and two sides — mac and cheese and green beans almandine. I was served a piece of catfish the size of my head surrounded by the mac and cheese and green beans, plus coleslaw. My 4-year-old date chose the turkey sandwich and the kitchen was gracious enough to allow us to request an alternate bread option.
Finishing even a quarter of what was on my plate was out of the question. I did, though, manage to make the mac and cheese, with a subtle heat hidden in white creamy sauce, disappear. The soft catfish was salty, seasoned and crispy hot.
For a decent price tag, we came home with a heavy box of leftovers.
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UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 3:41 pm ::::