Ann Arbor’s Black Rock Bar & Grill opened shortly before Christmas. We briefly considered it for a family gathering when extended family was visiting. My 12 year old expressed concerns with the safety of the restaurant for her young cousins – and for herself. We decided to pass on it with extended family, but the 3 of us ate at Black Rock last night with my parents.
About Black Rock
Black Rock‘s specialty is steaks served on a 755 degree black rock with cooking completed by the guests. Other options served on the black rock are seafood. If you prefer entrees cooked in the kitchen, there is great selection of sandwiches, burgers, and other entrees. Note, there are not a lot of vegetarian options on the menu.
The first Black Rock Bar & Grill opened in Hartland, MI in 2010. Since then, several more locations have opened in Michigan and Florida.
Ann Arbor Black Rock’s address is 3776 State St. They are located in the Costco complex, across from McDonalds. The location has formerly been a ChiChi’s and Passport Restaurant. I recall another restaurant there before Passport, but never ate there and don’t remember the name.
We started with an appetizer, had 4 steaks, and a burger. Before the meal, we contemplated sharing their signature dessert – a Sizzling Black Rock Volcano (deep dish brownie, 4 scoops vanilla ice cream, waffle cone, whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, and a marshmallow served with a sparkler. By the time theme ended, we were full and also had leftover cake at home.
Several appetizers feature the Black Rock. We opted for the Black Rock Dueling Pretzel & Cheese Fondue. It comes with two dishes of cheese – white garlic cream cheese and a nacho cheese fondue on top of the black rock. Sections of soft pretzels are served in the bowls alongside the rock.
I assumed I would prefer the nacho cheese, but the white garlic cream cheese was delicious! I suggest letting it sit for awhile to warm the cream cheese and stirring it. There is ample cheese, and you can purchase additional pretzel segments for $1.
The table next to us had the Spinach Artichoke dip served in a black rock bowl (at least I think it was the Spinach Artichoke dip).
Each of the steaks came with two sides. My father and I both decided to upgrade to the Lobster Bisque soup as an appetizer. Our soup came in a large crock with a claw sticking out of it.
There was also quite a bit lobster meat on the claw that was submerged in the soup. The only problem was that the lobster was covered in bisque so it was a bit messy to get to all the lobster meat.
Personally, I am not a huge steak fan. I almost ordered shrimp, but remembered we had a seafood dinner planned for tonight. I decided to take a chance on the steak and ordered the garlic rub and casino butter complements. Additionally, Montreal Steak Seasoning is available on the table to season your steak.
The steaks are brought out on a cart. Each steak is on it’s own black rock and at this point is mostly rare. Your server flips the steak to start cooking the other side and then cuts the first bite for you.
You finish cooking the steak to your desired doneness by slicing a piece and cooking it on the rock yourself. You can season your steak with the complements offered. My only complaint was that our complements were not brought with our steaks. I ate at least 1/3 of my steak before they were brought out.
The stone was helpful for my side of green beans since I prefer them cooked a bit more than they were. I used the stone to cook my green beans a bit more with some casino butter and splashing a bit of water from my glass to help it steam.
My daughter ordered a Road House burger. It was a half-pound burger topped with cheddar cheese, onion ring, lettuce, tomato (which she omitted), and house made BBQ sauce. She loved her burger last night – and the second half for lunch today.
I forgot to ask about a kids menu. My daughter turns 12 next week, and typically prefers the adult menu. They don’t have the Kids Menu listed on their website.
Eating at Black Rock
Since I mentioned my daughter’s concerns, we’ll start with safety. Yes, your food is served on a 755 degree rock. The rock is encased in a dish making it less likely that you will burn yourself. However, if you have babies or toddlers who sit in your lap during dinner, Black Rock (or at least the dishes served on a rock may not be the right choice for you). After dinner, my daughter was considerably more comfortable with the idea, but still not enough to order one for herself next time.
My husband usually is not a fan of restaurants where you handle raw meat and cook it yourself because of cross-contamination (Melting Pot, Tomukkon BBQ, etc). Since the meat comes out partially cooked and is already on the stone, there are less concerns with food safety at Black Rock.
I would love the room that we ate in over the summer. It is an indoor/outdoor section with large glass garage doors to provide open air seating in the summer. However, when it is under 10 degrees outside, it was a bit drafty especially when someone left by the door in this area.
We were at a bar height table for 6. I know this is not ideal for some families. Since my daughter is 12 and as tall as I am, it was not a problem for us.
The main restaurant has a large bar in the center and booths and tables around it. Throughout the restaurant there were TVs with various sports events.
Black Rock was very crowded the night we were there. But they are a new restaurant, and it was the Saturday of New Years Weekend. They offer call ahead priority seating. While not a reservation, your name is placed half-way up the list when you arrive. Even with priority seating we waited 35 minutes for our table at 6:15.
We did enjoy our meal at Black Rock and will return. My Mom commented that it was hard to enjoy your whole meal at once since the steak platter takes up the area in front of you and the side dishes are placed off to the side. She ended up cooking all of her steak and then rotating the platter to enjoy both her steak and potato together.
We eat out often, but will keep Black Rock as a special occasion meal. It was not cheap. Our bill was nearly $120 for 5 people. It was also a long meal. From the time we were seated, our meal took an hour and forty five minutes.