Then again, so has every restaurant.

I’ve never been one to go to steak houses. Cooking a steak is among the easiest and quickest things in the world* and it’s far, far cheaper to do so at home. Still, after years of getting Black Angus flyers in the mail, I finally decided to give it a try and was surprised that I liked it. The steaks were fine, nothing special, but the advertised Campfire Feast came with plenty of other food that I was far less likely to cook, and was overall a good deal. Over the years before the pandemic, we visited the Black Angus in San Lorenzo many times, then the pandemic came and I pretty much forgot about Black Angus – as our local one doesn’t have outdoor dining.

For some reason, I’ve been having a hankering for food from chain restaurants lately. I can’t explain it, but just in the last week or so I’ve ordered from Panera and Panda Express and got a craving for Black Angus. Nothing specific, just the whole experience. I looked up the Campire Feast and was somewhat amazed at seeing that it now cost $69 ! That’s a 40% increase over the 2020 price ($49). Yes, I know that both food and restaurant prices have gotten ridiculous – but I thought this increase really exemplified how inflation has hit lower middle class Americans – the ones that will eat at Black Angus as a special treat. Salaries most certainly have not gone up by 40% since.

But I digress. I found a Groupon that had the meal for $54, and decided to head there a Thursday night in April, with my husband and younger daughter. I was not overly surprised at how empty the once viving restaurant was. In our pre-pandemic days, there was always a wait and it was always full. No longer.

I don’t think I like Black Angus as much when it’s so sleepy – I think perhaps some of the attraction of chains is the energy you get from other people -, but besides that, it hadn’t change much. Service was good and friendly, and the food was very close to what I remembered.

The Campfire Feast includes a single appetizer, two entrees, four sides, and a dessert. There are several options to choose from within each category, some at a premium, usually $2 to $10. My daughter is not a big eater, so she decided she’d share with us and only order a side salad.

We started with their warm molasses bread which is served with whipped butter (photo taken after we’d consumed most of it). My daughter is particularly fond of this and she enjoyed it as usual. I think the main thing this bread has going for it is that it’s served warm, but different strokes for different folks.

As an appetizer, we all shared the steak quesadilla ($15, $2 supplement to Campfire Feast). I think they might have changed the cut of steak they use in the last few years, it was tougher than I remembered and less juicy. But the quesadilla was fine. It no longer comes with guacamole, which is an additional $2.

I ordered the ribeye steak ($33, $5 supplement to Campfire Feast) with a side of mac & cheese and a side of au gratin potatoes. The au gratin potatoes were pretty good. They were cooked in a thin cheese sauce, and while I’d had preferred a stronger cheese flavor, there was enough of it to cover the potatoes.

As for the steak, it was on the thin side. I was expecting this based on reviews I’d read, and would have preferred a much thicker one (and it’s definitely not worth the $33 full price), but it was OK. It was cooked medium rare as I ordered it, it didn’t have an inordinate amount of grizzle, and it was pretty tasty. It made me think I should consider cooking my steaks on herbed butter (though to be honest, it can be a bit too rich). It was large enough that on top of the potatoes and part of the quesadilla, I couldn’t finish it and I took about half of it home.

Mike ordered a full slab of BBQ pork ribs ($33, $6 supplement to Campfire Feast) to share with my daughter, and two sides of broccoli (given that each one is only a couple of florettes). They both were happy with both choices, though the ribs had too much sauce for their liking. Solid food, nothing amazing.

My daughter also ordered a Caesar salad as a side ($7 as an extra side). She liked that the croutons were made from the molasses bread and overall liked the salad.

My daughter wanted the Chocolate Chip Cowboy Cookie ($9) and really, it’s delicious. It’s hot out of the even, with melting, gooey chocolate chips. It needs perhaps a little bit more of ice cream, as without it it’s too sweet. There was enough of it to satisfy the three of us – though only because Mike only had a bite. It’s more of a two-person dessert.

My daughter had the pomegranate lemonade ($5) and she liked it. It comes in a very large glass and tasted quite fresh to me.

Service was fine, and friendly, and the whole meal ended up costing around $100 after tax and tip – not bad for these post-pandemic times, but not a bargain either.

Black Angus
15800 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo, CA
(510) 276-1400
M - Th 3 PM - 10 PM
F - Su 12 PM - 10 PM

* How to cook a steak: Heat up a skillet to medium high. Trim the steak. Place the trimmings on the pan, allow to melt, and then coat the bottom of the pan with the melting fat. Add the steak and cook for a minute, turn and cook for another minute. Turn heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Turn and cook for another 3-5 minutes. You’re done.

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