Considering the name of the restaurant is the Back Room Steakhouse, I shouldn't be completely surprised that even after having dined there I'm still not at all sure where it is or exactly how I got there. (Thanks, for the directions, Siri.)
What isn't surprising is that it is located in a strip mall, nestled between a Beef O'Brady's and a Little Caesars pizza.
Once inside the ambience is a little more, um un-strippy, with a clubhouse decor that includes red leather tufted banquettes and wood floors. It's slightly more barlike than upscale. And by the way, despite the name, the restaurant is right up front.
The average check total is decidedly higher than the neighbors'. O'Brady regulars who might wander in and decide to try Back Room's beef might gasp at the $31 fee for a 14-ounce New York Strip. But folks who appreciate good steaks and know that a good quality cut, aged four weeks, costs a bit more will understand the cost once they take a bite.
The strip my companion ordered was cooked perfectly, a juicy-red medium rare with a peppery charred crust.
And I was impressed with the quality of the filet tips in my Blackened Steak Pasta. I even rolled my eyes a bit when the server asked me how I wanted my steak cooked. Right, I thought, the kitchen is going to cook beef tips to a medium-rare temperature. But darned if they weren't. Tender, too, and substantial hunks that required a knife for any but the most Neanderthal. The fettuccine, tossed in a super rich Alfredo sauce, was also cooked just right.
Most entrees, including the steaks, come with a choice of two sides. Every good steakhouse should have a decent Creamed Spinach, but that dish involves more than pouring cream over sauteed spinach, which is how Back Room's appeared to have been made. The mushrooms, on the other hand, were firm and chewy and had a nice buttery coat, but there weren't very many of them. It was a small portion of spinach, too, for that matter (though in that case it didn't matter). I mention it only because the a la carte price for the side dishes is $4.50. While the steak was worth its price, the side dishes were not worth theirs.
The kitchen got the $16 crab cake appetizer right on the second try. The first set of two good-sized disks looked good from the top side, but the bottom of the baked cakes were close to burnt from a finish in a pan. When someone asked how they were, I told him. He offered to have another order prepared, which I appreciated but declined. Instead, I asked for some more of the remoulade that was served so stingily on the plate with the cakes. I was brought a thimble sized supplement. Who knew remoulade was so precious.
And even though I demurred from having another order of crab cakes prepared, another order was brought anyway. And this time they were just right. Not exclusively comprised of jumbo lump meat, but there was a good enough showing of it.
The crab cake situation was handled properly, and our designated server and the assistant server were both friendly and well spoken.
But I sat watching them and other servers in the dining room make faux pas after faux pas. Some good basic training could really raise the level of service and make this a real destination steakhouse. Wherever it is.
Back Room Steakhouse is at 1418 Rock Springs Road, Apopka. It is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-880-7832.