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2011 Best Business Restaurant: Stark's Steakhouse

Author: Alexandra Russell
May, 2011 Issue

Stark’s Steakhouse has been voted Best Business Restaurant in the 2011 NorthBay biz readers poll.

With its classy, dark leather, retro vibe and luxurious food and cocktails, it’s fitting that NorthBay biz readers have voted Stark’s Steakhouse as Best Business Restaurant this year.

Opened in winter 2008 at the site of the former Michele’s Italian Restaurant in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, Stark’s was the latest in a string of successful eateries owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Mark and Terri Stark, who’d already shown their prowess with Willi’s Wine Bar and Monti’s Rotisserie and Bar in Santa Rosa, and Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg, all booming spots.

With Stark’s Steakhouse, they were clearly aiming even higher. Taking full advantage of the building’s historic landmark status (built in 1934) and roomy, renovated atmosphere, they set up a large bar, a main dining room for 100-plus diners and a banquet room (complete with private bar and elegant chandelier) for 50. There’s also a private wine cellar that can be reserved for private events and seat a smaller group of up to 14.

“One of the things that appeals to business diners is that we offer dining environments to suit a variety of group sizes and needs,” says Terri Stark. “Our catering manager is a wiz at pulling it all together for larger group meetings that require presentation equipment or have other special needs—and it doesn't hurt that we have free WiFi.”

The food centers around beef, of course, but with a modern approach. Stark’s serves high-quality certified Angus beef that’s been dry-aged in-house, as well as American-style Kobe beef from Snake River Farms raised in eastern Idaho. The filet mignon is all-natural, grass-fed from Sonoma Direct; prime rib of beef is on the menu every day from 5 p.m. “until it’s gone.”

Steaks are served a la carte and, in addition to the premium steaks, signature dishes have come to include roasted bone marrow Dungeness crab tater tots as well as the Chef’s Happy Meal, consisting of hand-cut steak tartare, truffle fries, a pint of Stark’s Pale Ale and a toy ($19).

“The ambiance here is upscale without being stuffy or pretentious,” Stark adds. “I think it’s a lot easier to do business when you feel comfortable and welcome, which is an experience we strive to provide for all of our guests, business or otherwise.”

In keeping with the classic cocktail lounge feel, a large list of whiskeys is available, all the better with those steaks, as well as local wines, including a sizable choice in half bottles.

The menu is available for all-day dining between 11:30 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday. Happy Hour happens Monday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the restaurant also opens for dinner on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Happy Hour has become a very good time for a visit, with $2 Beefeater Martinis on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (limit two per guest) and appetizers along the lines of barbequed oysters, tuna tartar tacos and yam fries for $1.50 each.



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