The Famous: A Steak House
by Christopher Hicks
I love cow. I am not ashamed. My love for cow goes back as far as I can remember, and I express my love of cow as often as possible through the method of consumption. I am none to particular on the type of cow I ingest, so long as it's at least slightly cooked, but the primary focus of my veneration is most definitely steak. Prime rib, porterhouse, T-bone, tenderloin, and sirloin are just a few of my patron saints of cow. Colorado Springs has a number of fine establishments that excel in the area of cow preparation but the one place I've found that shares my devotion to steak is The Famous: A Steak House.
Walking into The Famous is like walking into a romantic secret. The "Maitre D' Hotel", Marty Searcy, greets you warmly as soon as you enter and just inside the door there is typically a pianist plinking away on a disklavier piano. A large U-shaped bar dominates the main floor of the restaurant and is surrounded by deep hemispherical booths, with dark leather that has been polished to a bright sheen. Above you are beautiful 15ft. high ceiling coffers that the owners, Tony and Cindy Gough, spent weeks bringing back to life. A lively staff bustles around efficiently with no hint of the lackadaisical saunter that can so often be found in other establishments.
Occasionally, as a server passes through the rear door, a cacophony of noises can be heard that one would normally associate with a bustling kitchen. It's the very picture of a restaurant that knows what it's about.
I was excited to make my first trip to The Famous. I hadn't had a good steak in almost four days and the shakes were setting in. I was quickly seated and after perusing the lunch menu, struggled to decide between the strip and the sirloin. I was ready for some serious cow and so when the waiter came up and inquired as to my choice, I promptly told him (you guessed it folks) ""lobster." Wait, lobster? Yes, lobster! You see, on the sidewalk, outside the entrance, they had a board set up that listed the daily lunch specials, and with a glance my mind registered the fact that they were serving lobster-B.L.T's for lunch. I had never tried one before and surprised even myself by shelving the choice of cow and going for my first ever lobster-B.L.T. ($14.95). It was then that I discovered that at The Famous, there is no such thing as a light lunch. It became the first sandwich in my life that I was unable to finish at one sitting. Undaunted, I made quite a few return visits.
My first dinner experience began with their Carpaccio ($9.95). It was a little overdressed for my taste, but the quality of meat was excellent; having a soft texture and a buttery flavor. As an entre I ordered the 1lb. Prime New York Strip ($36.95). Again, a very good quality cut and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The plating lacked a lot of frivolity that one is accustomed to seeing these days, but honestly I don't need a lot of extras with my cow. Tackling a giant baked potato is only going to take up precious room in my digestive system that I specially reserve for steak; and Steak sauce? Don't make me laugh. I finished my evening with their fresh berries and cream dessert ($7.95); again a sizeable portion but light enough to allow for waddling out the door.
During the course of other visits I tried a variety of other menu selections. One afternoon I tried the open-faced prime rib sandwich ($9.95), and was a little disappointed. I mentioned to my server that I thought it was dry, and she made no bones about replacing it right away. The second attempt was juicy, tender and flavorful; all in all, a very good sandwich. I was delighted on another afternoon by the flavor and texture of the chicken cordon bleu sandwich ($8.95), which became the second sandwich in my life that I couldn't finish in one setting. I've since had a few steaks there, some cups-o-soup, a salad, plenty of wine, and not a few cocktails, all to my satisfaction. I even tried to throw them a curve ball once by ordering off of the menu but the speed with which my faux pas order was placed before me attested to the efficiency and skill of the kitchen.
One of the things that sets The Famous: A Steak House apart from other restaurants is the staff. They manage a very high level of professionalism in a casual way. They get things done quickly and efficiently, without really seeming to rush. I don't think I've ever seen one of their staff "in the weeds." Owner/managers Chris Martell, and Cindy Gough, deserves praise for allowing the personality of their employees to be a factor in the dining experience. The first thing barkeep Bill Sojourn did when I approached him for a drink was to smile, shake my hand, and introduce himself. As I've stated before, that's bartending. Jill Kanaff, Aaron Petrovich, and David Maddelena are just a few important pieces of a staff filled with important pieces. They work hard to keep everything running as smooth as possible. They ensure that each guest enjoys what has always proven to be an amazing dining experience. Please, don't take my word for it. Go to The Famous: A Steak House and treat yourself to a dinner the likes of which you aren't soon to forget. After all, you deserve it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for some cow.