By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough – CJ's Steakloft is an ideal place to share a romantic dinner or just reconnect with your spouse after a hectic week.
The Steakloft is a convenient spot for a quiet, relaxed, intimate dinner. The main dining room features private booths of warm, dark wood with red light fixtures hanging over the tables and twinkling white lights around the room, very cozy. There's live music every Friday night in the large lounge area.
Carolyn Johnson owns this family restaurant with her son, Mark, the chef. The Johnsons opened the Steakloft in 1981, and it celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, a milestone not many restaurants reach and a testimony to its continued popularity.
My husband and I had eaten in the main dining room before, and rather than wait a few minutes for a table there, we were happy to be seated in the smaller dining room, which also has private booths or tables and can handle larger parties. It's a good choice over the quieter main room for families with children.
The Steakloft's entrÃ©e menu, as expected, features steaks with about 10 different preparations. Sirloin steaks are available in 8-oz., 12-oz., or in some cases, 16 oz. portions. The beef entrees run $14.95 to $24.95. If you’re not a beef eater, there are a dozen seafood choices and almost as many chicken options, most priced from $13.95 to $16.95. And if you really can’t decide, the Steakloft offers combination dinnersâ”one meat and one seafood choice–for $24.95.
On our last visit, I had the restaurant's justly famous prime rib. This time I decided to try one of the Steakloft's specialties, the Australian Delight. It's your choice of an 8-oz. or 12-oz. sirloin steak ($17.95 or $20.95), or a chicken breast ($14.95), grilled to order and topped with sea scallops, crabmeat and the restaurant's homemade Ritz cracker stuffing, with a mushroom sauce.
My husband opted for chicken marsala ($14.95), offered with a choice of pasta.
We started with house salads that come with the dressing on the side, a touch I always appreciate. We enjoyed them along with the basket of warm bread.
I highly recommend the Australian Delight. The delicate, nicely cooked scallops and crabmeat provided a tasty counterpoint to the tender 8-oz. sirloin, cooked exactly as ordered. The stuffing that accented the dish is delicious. Carolyn Johnson said that, in addition to the Ritz crackers, it includes cheeses and a touch of rum and brandy.
The entree came with a choice of potatoes, and the mound of mashed potatoes I ordered was flecked with bits of potato skin. Next time I’ll ask for a little extra mushroom sauce to top the potatoes.
The chicken marsala was also delicious, penne pasta (or you could choose angel hair or fettuccine), topped with tender slices of chicken breast in a delicate marsala wine sauce.
The Steakloft has a basic wine list, with most choices available by the glass or bottle. Prices are reasonable for a very generous glass of wine and for most bottles. And if it's a special occasion, how about a bottle of one of the restaurant's sparkling wines?
I think if you want dessert at the Steakloft, you have to plan ahead and save half your dinner entree to take home! There are several options that would be perfect to shareâ”'sig fat chocolate cake,” Mississippi mud ice cream pie, or a strawberry or chocolate parfait.
CJ's Steakloft serves lunch Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, opening at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday, opening at 4 p.m.
For more information or reservations at The Steakloft, located at 369 West Main St., Northborough, call 508-393-8134 or visit the website, www.cjsteakloft.com.