Tess on the Town: Strayhorn well worth drive to Loma
Several weeks ago, rumors went around that Russian then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent and all-around he-man, was visiting western Colorado to hunt mountain lion.
Putin is known for his macho hunting forays (often shirtless with cameras in tow), taking aim at snow leopards, bears and even whales.
After a dogged pursuit, The Daily Sentinel confirmed the Putin rumor was false and that a different hunter from the Soviet sphere, a Ukrainian dignatary about whom the rumor actually centered, never showed up at the restaurant.
So, to my point. The huntsman reportedly was going to visit the Strayhorn Grill in Loma after he bagged the big cat. One of our reporters spent hours staking out the place and eating a big fat steak while he waited. It reminded me that I needed to check out this chuck wagon.
The Strayhorn Grill is in the same building as the Western Colorado Cattlemen’s Auction, so you know the steaks are fresh off the hoof.
After venturing out one night on a dark country road, and making a few wrong turns, we followed the bright lights into the flyspeck that is downtown Loma and our reward was the Strayhorn Grill.
After wheeling into a huge dirt parking lot, we weren’t sure what to expect. What we got were terrific steaks and prime rib, Texas-sized portions and a friendly and efficient staff.
The down-to-earth place is open and airy with modern Western décor. Dress is all over the board, with more than a few Stetsons and large belt buckles.
A pair of Longhorns on the wall led to the name Strayhorn, because this particular bull had a slightly misshapen horn, according to our server Toby.
Although the Strayhorn is open for lunch and Sunday brunch, we wanted to go for dinner (Friday and Saturday only), so we could choose from the best array of steaks on the menu, which was created by owner Cheryl Martin.
For an appetizer, we had the sampler platter with onion strings, stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon, wontons filled with cheese, chicken and green chile and bull fries. Bull fries are indeed testicles, sliced, lightly breaded and fried. At the Strayhorn, they were tastier solid bites than other versions I’ve had of Rocky Mountain oysters, which mostly resembled over-battered, fried-to-a-pulp popcorn shrimp.
The first three appetizers were so good, we pretty much ignored the onion strings.
A $15 to $25 dinner buys you the entrée, a generous side heaping, soup or salad and hot-out-of-oven homemade rolls.
Steaks include New York strip, ribeye, filet, sirloin and flatiron. Other offerings are burgers, prime rib and chicken fried steak, sweet bourbon marinated salmon, grilled shrimp in asiago sauce pasta, homemade pies and some chocolate creation called Cowgirl Heaven.
On the Friday night we visited, the special was fried catfish.
A customer on Yelp writes of the Strayhorn: “There aren’t too many places in the world where you can enjoy a yummy bowl of cheese grits with andouille sausage, then step into the lobby to learn about the artificial insemination of cows.”
On auction days you can get the full Western experience by watching the action via closed-circuit TV or in the cavernous barn.
The bottom line is, the beer is cold, the steaks are sizzling and the service was great. I’d say these cowboys live a pretty pampered life.
QUOTE: “People are getting tired of going out to expensive restaurants and spending lot of money for seven pea pods and a two-inch steak.” — Lynne Bien