Saturday night sent us to Monmouth for a birthday meet up with my brother and sister-in-law at Cerar's Barnstormer, 1201 W. Broadway.
The building is pretty nondescript from the outside, a red wood sided building with no windows, and a flashing beacon on the roof, but inside dark wood and subtle lighting set a cozy atmosphere. There are pictures of airplanes throughout the restaurant.
Opening the menu, I was surprised to find at least six things I wanted to try. Typically at a place, I will see about two things I might like to eat.
Here, I was tempted by horseradish crusted New York strip; chicken Colette topped with Monterey Jack cheese, asparagus and Hollandaise; honey pecan chicken; Orange Roughy baked in white wine, lemon and Brilliance, served with a pineapple mango relish or drawn butter for $18.99; and pan-seared Tilapia complimented with chile lime butter for $15.99.
There was also a large selection of steaks, with various seasonings and add ons to choose from.
The prices were a little higher than I might have expected, but the quality of food to choose from was also a surprise to me. I didn't realize that Cerar's would be a cut above your run of the mill local steakhouse.
The specials for the night were cedar-planked salmon and USDA prime rib, a 10 oz cut, a 12 oz for $24.99 and a 16 oz hunk for $31.99.
Being his birthday celebration, and also since he had not had a good prime rib in a long time, StfRon went with the 16 oz prime rib, medium rare.
I chose the Parmesan crusted chicken, described as being covered with fresh parmesan cheese and herbed bread crumbs, baked to a golden crust, and served with a garlic cream sauce for $15.49.
My brother chose the porterhouse pork chop and his wife also had the Parmesan crusted chicken.
While we waited for our food, our waitress/hostess, who kept up a good banter with us throughout the evening, brought us some bread and honey butter, and then our soup and salads. Everyone had a salad except me. I decided to try the tomato bisque, which I found to be savory and delicious, filled with chunks of tomatoes. I ended up scraping the bottom of my soup mug to try and get every bit.
Our meals arrived, and I found the Parmesan chicken to be very tender and juicy, and the creamy garlic sauce had a great flavor. Every so often, I would get a nicely browned bit of breadcrumb/Parmesan crust in the sauce, and the crumbs were delicious. For my side, I went with a veggie medley of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, which were subtly seasoned and cooked to perfection.
StfRon's prime rib was excellent, tender with a nice crust. I had a bite, topped with horseradish sauce, and despite me loading on the sauce, the seasoned flavor of the meat came through, and it tasted wonderful. His side dish of au gratin potatoes was a rounded scoop of cheesy potatoes, savory and not sweet.
Throughout our meal our waitress checked on us at the appropriate times, and she was witty and friendly. A crew of other staff also kept up a constant rotation of filling our iced teas each time we were at the half glass level.
Cerar's was a nice surprise. I hope we have reason to meet for a nice family gathering at western points of the state again, and I would welcome the chance to visit again so I can try more of the tempting dishes and make good memories with great company. I would also like to check out the lounge, which looked cozy and comfortable.