Coronado’s Stake Chophouse & Bar brings the big city steakhouse experience to our small town

Stake Chophouse & Bar, the newest offering from Coronado-based Blue Bridge Hospitality, opened its doors in early November after months of local curiosity and anticipation. Residents and visitors are familiar with many of BBH’s other Coronado eateries, including Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, Village Pizzeria, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, MooTime Creamery, and Coronado Coffee Company, as well as Point Loma’s Liberty Station Public Market, which is slated to open next year.

Stake, which was announced more than a year ago, was conceptualized as a contemporary steakhouse. As a person who hasn’t eaten red meat in years, I may not have been the most obvious candidate to review a steakhouse, but I do love good food, so with my husband (an avowed carnivore) in tow, I made a reservation to dine at Stake earlier this week.

Knowing that the restaurant had substantially renovated the outdoor lounge space, we arrived 45 minutes before our 7 p.m. reservation to ensure we had ample time to grab a drink from the bar before being seated. This turned out to be a great decision — the outdoor lounge is like no other (public) space in Coronado. Appointed with comfortable, generously sized chairs arranged in intimate conversation clusters, the second-floor balcony lounge is lined with a gas fireplace that adds cozy ambiance and surprising warmth while also blocking out the lights and noise of vehicles passing by on Orange Avenue below.

The bar menu reads as expected for a steakhouse. Wines, craft beers (some brewed locally), and cocktails of gin, bourbon, rum, and whiskey made up the house drink menu. My husband settled on the Key Daiquiri, a tempting concoction of Ron Zacapa rum, Luxardo (a Maraschino liqueur), lime, grapefruit, and vanilla bitters, served on the rocks, while I went with a (very large) bottle of Julian Cider ($12). (Seriously, it was 22 ounces.) The Key Daiquiri was well-crafted, and of course the cider was light, bubbly, and delicious.

Not wanting to fill up before being seated at our table for the main event, we checked out the bar appetizer menu and decided on a bowl of Stake Popcorn with Smoked Salt ($8). Other highlights from the bar appetizer menu included Fries with Bordelaise ($10), Oysters on the Half Shell ($18 – $28), and Stake Tartare ($18). Our popcorn was cooked perfectly, but the smoked flavor didn’t come through as strongly as I would have hoped, so while we polished off the bowl, I would choose a different appetizer on my next visit. (As a side note, on a previous visit my husband sampled the Stake Tartare, which is served atop a house-made potato chip. He reported that it was delightful.)

Overall, our visit to the lounge was absolutely enjoyable; I would easily rank this as my personal top choice in Coronado for drinks with a date or with friends, largely because it is such a unique space. And although we stuck to drinks and apps during our lounge visit, the dinner menu is available in the lounge on request. I would also be remiss not to mention the service in the lounge — Chrissy, our superb server, was a great mix of professional and personable, answering our (okay, my) many questions about the drinks and food, and striking just the right balance of attentiveness without hovering.

Just as our reservation time arrived, the hostess came to the lounge to show us to our table in the main dining room. Here, the contemporary decor really shines through. The palette is neutral, with wood paneled walls, dark wood tables and leather chairs serving as the backdrop for several distinct focal pieces — two giant chandeliers hang over two of the larger booths, and one wall is comprised of back-lit onyx in dazzling shades of amber. Two other booths displayed intricate wood-worked “windows”, dotted with potted orchids in shades of cream and lavender. I found the room to be adequately lit without being bright, but did observe another diner utilizing a smartphone flashlight to light his menu for reading. Overall, I found the dining room to exude richness and coziness at the same time — a bit like a favorite uncle’s study.

The menu offers a variety of starters, including chilled seafood, soups, and salads. My husband ordered the molten lobster dip with cheese curds, calabrian peppers, and crostini ($19) after hearing several other diners and a staff member or two raving about it, while I opted for the shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, feta, and smoked almond salad with lemon vinaigrette ($11). The lobster dip was rich, creamy, mildly flavored, and chock-full of large lobster chunks, but the absolute star of the first course was the shaved Brussels sprouts salad. It was salad perfection — easily the best salad I’ve had in years, and maybe the best ever. I’m not sure what sort of kitchen magic was involved, but the sprouts and kale were bright, fresh, and crisp, without any trace of bitterness, and the feta and lemon added just the right amount of saltiness, sweetness, and tang. The smoked almonds were the icing on the cake, contributing a deep smokiness and crunch to each bite. I can’t imagine not ordering this on every return visit; I might even go back just for this salad.

For the main course, steaks, chops, and seafood entrees are served a la carte, with generously portioned family-style sides available to round out the meal. My husband (the carnivore) seriously considered the Tournados Rossini (filet mignon, duck liver pate, truffle sauce, and crouton, $46), but ultimately decided to try Stake’s version of A5 Japanese Wagyu ($28 per ounce). For the uninitiated (which included non-beef-eating me prior to this meal), A5 Wagyu beef is known for its high quality and intense fat marbling, creating unparallelled flavor and richness. It is also known for its high price; as a result, true Japanese Wagyu is uncommonly seen on western menus.

When the debut menu for Stake was released, it included a listing for Cauliflower Steak, which was explained to me as a long slab cut of cauliflower cooked in the same style as the restaurant’s steak offerings — over a wood fire. And as a non-steak eater, I was curious to sample the cauliflower steak. However, the menu we were presented with on Monday no longer included this offering; instead, a cauliflower dish of florets prepared in the original wood-fired style can now be found in the veggie section of the menu. As there was no longer a vegetarian main on the menu, I opted for the new cauliflower dish as my entree ($11).

The server advised us that the sides were served family style and big enough to share, so we elected to try one side from each section of the menu. From the starches, we selected the crème fraîche and chive Duchesse potatoes ($10). Both of us are huge mushroom fans, so we were torn between the three different mushroom sides, but ultimately we decided on the butter braised button mushrooms ($12). Finally, from the veggie menu we selected the creamed spinach with toasted breadcrumbs ($10, in addition to my “entree” of cauliflower, which was also from the veggie menu).

We also took a few minutes to peruse the wine and spirits list. Calling it a list is a bit of an understatement — it’s an extensive (31 page) collection of wines available by the glass, half bottle, or bottle, as well as a substantial collection of spirits, cordials, aperitifs, and more. The wine list offers something for virtually everyone, from a $30 bottle of Malbec to a $4600 bottle of red Burgundy. We selected one of several nice Pinot Noir options available by the glass to enjoy with our main course.

As we awaited our main course, our server returned with a sturdy wooden box displaying a variety of steak knives for diners to choose their weapon of choice for the entrees. The options included forged blades with artisan handles from France, Japan, and Germany. As a non-meat eater, I did not choose a from the diner’s toolbox, but was still presented with a quality dinner knife before the main course was delivered. As we waited, we also saw raw cuts being presented to other diners before cooking, presumably for approval, or perhaps to illustrate the difference between cuts.

The main event arrived in due course, elegant but unfussy in its presentation. It was immediately apparent that we had ordered plenty of food. All three sides were presented in miniature stainless casseroles, and the portion sizes were definitely adequate for 3-4 diners. The Wagyu was plated alongside a portion of a reduction sauce, and the cauliflower arrived on a bed of what I presumed to be a lemon-y cauliflower puree, topped with sultanas (or white raisins) and capers.

The steak was prepared to perfection. Despite my husband’s general preference for medium-rare beef, the Wagyu was prepared medium per the chef’s suggestion, to allow the marbled fats to fully disperse throughout the meat. The result (I’m told) was a rich, flavorful excursion in steak decadence. As rich as it is, Wagyu is not a steak that most diners would eat frequently, but it definitely warrants consideration for special occasion dining or as an occasional treat. Further, the skillful preparation would certainly indicate that the other steaks on the menu would be prepared equally well.

The cauliflower side (as an entree) was flavorful, but not quite as “meaty” as I’d hoped for a dish that had previously been considered a vegetarian main. However, several of the other sides we ordered more than made up for it.

The Duchesse potatoes were absolutely amazing, elevating the common potato side to something truly special. Typically an already-rich blend of pureed potatoes, egg yolks, and butter, Stake’s version upped the ante by incorporating crème fraîche and chives for unparalleled creamy, flavorful richness. I was tempted by several of the starch offerings when we ordered, but would honestly have a very difficult time not ordering this on every return trip. (Incidentally, the potatoes also made excellent leftovers, as the two of us weren’t able to finish the generous portion.)

The spinach was fairly standard steakhouse fair, although the cream sauce seemed a bit lighter than most. The spinach itself appeared to be fresh baby spinach, which I appreciated, but even though I count myself a big creamed spinach fan, overall, the dish underwhelmed me. Personally, I prefer my creamed spinach to be a decadent affair, but I think I could have gotten on board with a lightened up version if it was more savory, or unusally spiced, or jazzed up in some other way that didn’t leave me missing the cream.

The butter braised button mushrooms, though, were simply amazing. They were, quite literally, a simple dish — whole button mushrooms slow cooked to tender, buttery perfection. I could have made a (vegetarian) meal of these mushrooms served on a bed of the Duchesses potatoes — in fact, I may do just that on my next visit, unless Stake adds a new vegetarian main course to the menu.

Although we weren’t able to finish all three sides we had ordered in addition to our entrees, we decided to sample one of the offerings from the dessert menu. The chocolate, almond, and caramel cake ($12) came highly recommended, but as bread pudding fans, we couldn’t pass up the blueberry muffin bread pudding ($12). Served with a generous pour of white chocolate sauce, added tableside, and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, the bread pudding was a fun and delicious marriage of the classic bread pudding and morning’s favorite muffin. The portion was plentiful, though not nearly as large as the enormous “leftover sundae” ($15), which we marveled at as we saw it being delivered to several other tables.

Overall, I found Stake Chophouse & Bar to be a welcome addition to the Coronado restaurant scene. The lounge is an intimate, sophisticated place to go for drinks with friends or a date, and the dining room would make an excellent choice for anyone celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a delicious steak dinner.

Learn more about Stake Chophouse & Bar, and see the full debut menu, here.

eCoronado.com did not recieve any compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Brooke Prouty

Community Manager

eCoronado.com

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Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com