Editor’s Note: It’s 11:33 p.m. on deadline night, and we just found out Hunter’s shuttered its doors just months after trying to revamp the 10-year-old eatery into a high-end steakhouse. Perhaps this is why:
The stately dining room of Hunter’s Restaurant (and the casual comfort of its adjacent pub) offers a number of enticing appointments. The décor is classically elegant, and the subtle, usually closed blinds mask the blandly residential location and allow one to feel lavish and far away.
Well-dressed servers proceed with resolve and professional bearing, and a busy maître d’ welcomes guests promptly and with a regal sort of deference. At the outset, all the pieces are in place for a decadent and memorable night out.
It set the mood for the restaurant that has recently transitioned from a casual, diverse American eatery to a more upscale, classic Colorado chophouse.
On the night of our visit, this strong opening impression was to give way to an experience with a few trouble spots. Upon our seating, we were asked by the maître d’ for our drink order, a subject to which we had as yet not given much thought. He patiently retreated, and we expected in turn to meet our server on her next pass. Apparently, however, the restaurant was understaffed on this night, as we never actually had a server.
Our entire experience was facilitated by our host—and quite capably, I might add—while the lone server zipped between the three other tables in the house. Now, there is nothing inherently negative about this arrangement, but it did speak to some kind of systemic breakdown to which we had become a party or perhaps, had been the cause. It was unsettling, we were terribly aware of ourselves, and we found it difficult to relax.
We attempted to address this anxiety with a round of that old steakhouse stalwart, the Ravenswood Zinfandel ($6), a spicy, fruit-forward selection that still pleases despite its relative ubiquity.
Looking over the menu, we soon realized that we had stumbled upon Prime Rib night (every Sunday), which offers the titular dish with salad or soup and a baked potato for $19.95. One of us bit, choosing the Steak House Wedge salad (normally $4) as a first course. This iceberg lettuce, blue cheese salad was sizeable, but lacked a suitable commitment to blue cheese crumbles and relied instead on a creamy dressing. Alongside the salad, we sampled Hunter’s French Onion Soup ($4). The latter was flavorful but unfortunately quite cool, such that the promise offered by the melting cheese on top was betrayed by the lukewarm broth it covered.
The Rib itself was more successful, defined mostly in terms of value and its tremendous size (especially alongside a filling baked potato). A fairly lean cut with just enough fat for flavor, this was our most loved dish, especially with a side of sautéed mushrooms.
A much-anticipated 8-ounce Filet Au Poivre ($23), however, was a disappointment. Although the black pepper infused sauce (one of several available as an accompaniment to any of Hunter’s steaks) was delicious, and the steak was clearly lovingly marinated, it was prepared to order with little care for temperature. Our desired medium-rare came out medium-well, with the edges of the filet approaching that off-white color paradoxically termed “well done.” Moreover, the filet’s presentation, as it were, consisted of being plunked in the middle of a pile of thin, crispy onion rings. In terms of its plating, this dish was simply unattractive. A side order of cheddar mashed potatoes turned out to be a dish of plain mashed potatoes with some shredded cheddar cheese on top, clearly melted by a few minutes in the salamander. To say that this ensemble failed to live up to expectations would be a vast understatement considering the effort Hunter’s has made to become a high-end steakhouse.
This is not to say our experience was unfulfilling—a spectacular dessert made sure we left with a smile. The Bananas Foster ($9), made tableside, was a rousing success. Although I feared for our host’s suit while he performed his carmelizing magic, the result was a very pleasing end to an otherwise uneven night out.
Hunter’s Restaurant & Pub
600 S. Airport Road #C1, Longmont
Bottom line: Ready for Prime Rib, but not ready for Prime Time.