Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 3:36 pm | Updated: 3:54 pm, Wed May 7, 2014.

By Pati Lucido Gonsalves

Black Angus is now open at The Streets of Brentwood. Photo courtesy of The Streets of Brentwood
Black Angus is now open at The Streets of Brentwood.
Photo courtesy of The Streets of Brentwood

An offer I couldn’t refuse: “We would love to do a review of the new Black Angus Steakhouse restaurant. You interested?” 

Um, yeah! It wasn’t just the nice perk of a free meal; I’ve been a long-time fan of this family-friendly eatery. When the buzz began that the ranch-style restaurant was opening at The Streets of Brentwood, it wasn’t surprising to hear from anxious patrons.

So what is a restaurant review? One might picture the mysterious food critic sitting in the back corner, tasting a variety of fare while scanning the servers and assessing their skills. Nah, it’s not like that.

In this case, a pre-scheduled appointment was made, and the entire staff knew The Press was coming. Now you might be thinking, “Well, that doesn’t seem like a fair analysis. Everyone will be at their best, ensuring a great report.” Of course they will. And yes, they were. So this crafty correspondent returned a few days later, incognito (baseball cap and shades, seriously) to give a true, fair and unspoiled review.

At the pre-arranged dinner, we were greeted with excited grins by the host team and graciously welcomed by General Manager Jon Bowler. He escorted us to our seat, the traditional high-backed booth, delegated server duties and left us to our evening, occasionally checking to ensure we were comfortable, treating us like VIPs. I received the same genuine smiles on my return visit from a different crew. They greeted me as if they were sincerely happy to see me.  

Okay, so far no difference.  Now compare the meals. During The Press’ visit, within moments we were enticed by the warm, molasses brown bread and a recommended wine. We started with the Shrimp Roundup appetizer that was cold, crisp and served with a house-made Atomic Horseradish sauce – plenty for two. 

Our entrée arrived almost immediately: a 12-ounce Bacon and Bleu Butter Ribeye for me and Crispy Shrimp for my guest. (The first round was so yummy, she wanted more!) The fire-grilled steak was as tender as any cut could be. Accompanied by two side orders of choice, from a variety of salads and potato dishes, vegetables and rice, the need for take-home containers was evident.  Capping the evening’s fare with a seasonal dessert favorite, a home-made bread-pudding, it was a perfect meal. Sprinkle in a staff offering suggestions, great service and occasional humor, and you have an experience rated 12 out of 10.

But what of my return visit? Would the recipe for great service and food be tainted? Having been served one of the finest ribeye steaks in memory, my follow-up visit did not disappoint.  I ordered a smaller, less flamboyant cut, the 8-ounce Top Sirloin, cooked to perfection and as tender as the Ribeye, along with a Caesar salad (a small meal in itself) and the best broccoli I have ever had. My guest ordered a chicken, avocado and bacon sandwich – built to accommodate the largest of bites – and a side of home-made fries. There was truly so much food, again, we packaged up the next day’s lunch. Service was excellent: no waiting and friendly, caring attitudes.

There are five keys that make for a great restaurant. Here’s why Black Angus gets a high rating: 

Quality food: Black Angus rightfully boasts of the freshness and flavor of their hand-cut beef, aged a minimum of 21 days. The steaks were cooked perfectly to order and were as tender and tasty as any I have had.  Hats off to Chef Ruben Rodriguez, for a great meal and his attention to each individual dish.

Service and staff:  The employees are genuinely happy and knowledgeable, smiling, checking often, but not intrusively. 

Ambiance: The home-style comfort of Black Angus, its rustic appeal and privacy-style seating added to an already pleasurable meal. 

Dietary considerations: For those counting calories, the menu lists the calorie count for each item; and for those needing gluten-free choices, Black Angus can accommodate that as well.  

Price:  Conceived with the idea that anyone could get a great ranch-style steak at an affordable price, Stuart Anderson delivered. Our generous-portioned meals for three came to just under $63. 

Having no room for dessert on my most recent visit, I sat back, relaxing to the background music of Clint Black’s country remake of The Hollies’  “Long Cool Woman.”  I was finding it hard to leave. You will too.

Black Angus Steakhouse opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon on Sunday. Serving lunch and dinner, reservations are welcomed and can be made online at www.BlackAngus.com or by calling 925-516-5533.  For special occasions, like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (highly suggested for the guy who loves a great steak), it is recommended to make a reservation and check special hours.