Despite some oddities, Hereford House gets down to food business

QUICKREAD

WHAT: Hereford Steak & Sushi House.

WHERE: 707 Horizon Drive.

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends.

CONTACT: 255-8888.

PRICE: Traditional sushi rolls start under $5; specialty rolls, under $15; Asian dishes, under $15; steaks, $19–$36 (for the 22-ounce Porterhouse).



For a place named after a cow, the menu at Hereford House is pretty long on sushi and Asian.

Three full pages of sushi, in fact, and two pages of Asian fusion. The fusion dishes seem to be unfused, primarily Chinese or Thai.

On the hoof side of the menu, Hereford offers six steak options, one fish and market-price lobster and crab legs.

The Horizon Drive restaurant has created quite a buzz in its three months of existence. The restaurant already has several dozen online reviews, most of them glowing, averaging about 4 1/2 stars on a scale of five. Urbanspoon.com rates Hereford’s entrees in the $10–$15 range, but their steaks run higher than that. Some comments:

“I have been in the restaurant business since 1972, and these folks really do know their stuff.”

“I will be frequenting this establishment on a regular basis (without my pinky in the upright and locked position.)”

“Just tried (dirty martini) tonight, absolutely the best I’ve ever had, anywhere.”

The other news Hereford has generated — at least in restaurant circles — is that management was able to lure away chefs from two other Grand Valley restaurants. They snagged one from the DoubleTree Inn and another from No Coast Sushi.

Hereford is in the building that once housed Bin 707, a sprawling place that seats over 100 but still manages to create an intimate feeling because it’s broken up into different dining areas. The outside and interior retain a cozy Italian-style decor. The outdoor dining patio offers views of the Bookcliffs.

Patrons are served on a white linen tablecloth, that, inexplicably, is covered with the kind of butcher paper you’d expect at a crawfish-eating contest. Odd.

Another non sequitur: flat-screen TVs tuned into Sunday Night Football throughout the otherwise elegant dining room. Probably a few men in the room were happy with that.

Now, onto the good part. Two in our party ordered sushi, so we needed somebody to try the steak. Me, me, me.

All together, we got a combined sushi platter, three traditional rolls and a 12-ounce ribeye.

The steak came with choice of potato and a dinner salad. I’ve never understood the attraction of a large wedge of iceberg lettuce, but I know it’s popular. It was made more than palatable by the delicious house-made blue cheese dressing. The hand-cut ribeye arrived sizzling, tender and perfectly seared. I didn’t share.

The guys loved the sushi, the salmon and eel nigiri especially. But the serving time was a little off. The last of three rolls arrived well after two of us were finished.

I understand that the restaurant is running three different kitchens, and they’ve only been open three months. It takes a while to work out the kinks.

Hereford is an up-and-comer with a few growing pains.

I can find a lot of reasons to visit Hereford again, for example, their happy hour special is an 8-ounce ribeye and fries for $10.

Or the panko-fried oysters, or the soft-shell crab with Serrano pepper remoulade I spied on the menu.

And, the crowd in the bar watching football looked kind of fun. The mixologists stock 20 vodkas, 30 tequilas and 40 whiskeys, scotches and bourbons.

SMOKE SHACK: Smoke Shack Hookah Lounge has no cover on Friday nights to listen to hip-hop, dance, Top 40 and live DJ music.

Sit in one of the groupings of mod furniture with your posse and puff on one of the more than 40 flavors of tobacco, if that’s your gig. The first bowl is $12 and refills are $8. Tastes range from coffee to Sex on the Beach.

Also offered, an oxygen bar and all types of soft drinks and caffeine-filled fuel. 200 W. Grand Ave., Unit 1. 424-5415.

QUOTE: “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”

— James Beard

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