It is not everyday that you walk in to a restaurant with little expectations and walk out stuffed with one of the most unexpectedly exceptional meals you have ever consumed. Such was my experience at Valley View Casino’s Black&Blue steakhouse. Located in Valley Center, CA, this typical California Indian casino would not have been my first bet for gourmet surf and turf. Unless we are talking about high roller Vegas, I don’t associate fine food with gambling, but some significant dining coupons my dad collected from the local newspaper (yes, apparently newspapers are still good for something!) were the impetus for this particular family outing.
Across the smoke-filled casino floor, an impressive fish tank welcomes guests in to Black&Blue’s lounge. The steakhouse’s interior is nice, but not particularly elegant. Finished wood tables spaced a bit too close together surround a large wood fire oven to create a lively atmosphere. The noise level in the restaurant is on the high side, which I’m sure is a strategy used to dampen the slot machine din just outside. Any minor aesthetic issues, however, were trivial once the first bite of food crossed my lips.
A server offering four types of rolls was the first indication of the deliciousness to come. I chose a flaky butter roll, which I quickly adorned with the olive oil drizzled butter at our table. Instant melt in your mouth goodness! A wheat roll, cheese bread, and some kind of blue cheese roll were the other options, but I liked the flaky roll so much that I chose to have a second one instead of trying something new. Next I shared the Vine Ripened Tomato & Watermelon Caprese. Beautiful balsamic-covered tomatoes and watermelon pieces surrounded a big dollop of fresh mozzarella. I inhaled that with gusto.
For my main course I went with the 20 oz. Cowboy Ribeye, which sat on a mound of fried onion strings and small bed of greens. This extremely tender, masterfully cooked and seasoned cut of bone-in meat was the crown jewel of the evening. Each heavenly bite was pure grilled perfection that surely rivals the most famous and finest of steakhouses. I was so consumed in carnivorous rapture that I hardly noticed what was on the plates of my dining companions. I think I saw some prime rib and giant prawns…I was told that they too were fantastic. Two side dishes were also ordered: Potato Galette and Sautéed Spinach. Their take on potatoes au gratin was creamy and delicious, but the spinach was the weakest part of the meal for me. I just didn’t care for the undetermined flavor that it was sautéed in. Overall though, this was a memorably savory taste bud experience.
It’s not over though, let’s talk about dessert! First of all, we were all surprised when my mom’s cup of coffee came in a French press with a small side platter of four square bowls filled with accoutrements. Rock candy swizzle sticks, whipped cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce are the standard coffee accompaniments at Black&Blue! Being the tech savvy foodie that I am, I discovered that there was a Yelp “Check-In” offer for a free gourmet dessert. The three iPhone users at the table had free range selection of any of the incredible-looking desserts. My selection was the Banana Cake, which was artfully presented with chocolate gelato, caramelized banana slices, a fudge sauce, and peanut butter powder. This was a winning combination. Equally elaborate versions of Carrot Cake and White Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake were both beautiful and scrumptious. This was a fabulous finale to an exceptional meal! We made our evening’s delight known to the very friendly restaurant manager who came by to check on us and ended up chatting about the restaurant’s music selection, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, and the magical technology of Shazam. All the service was great, I just wish the bread basket would have come by a few more times!
Despite the fact that you will, undoubtedly, leave the casino with clothes infused with the stench of cigarette, it is a small price to pay for one of San Diego County’s finest culinary experiences. Plus, with the incredible coupon discounts available and free desserts, the value of this meal is surely unrivaled! They also have an extensive cocktail and wine list to peruse if so inclined. I cannot recommend Black&Blue highly enough and look forward to my next meal at this surprising casino steakhouse. Happy New Year all!! May your 2013 be filled with magnificent meals and extraordinary desserts!
Make a reservation at Black&Blue on OpenTable.