Behind The Butter

Dinner at Starks Steakhouse

Last night began innocently enough. At 5:00.

I met my friend Tina for a happy hour cocktail at Stark’s Steakhouse and John made me my very first dirty martini!

Hi John.
Stark’s has a great happy hour, if any of you are interested. They have two dollar martinis and a bunch of appetizers that are only $1.50 each! I didn’t even know prices like that existed anymore!
Back to the dirty martini. It was “good” but I think I’m more of a wine or cosmo girl. I liked the olives though! I always thought martinis were made with vodka….that’s how much I know. John set me straight though. I have to say, I have a pretty big aversion to gin because of a less than stellar experience I had with it in college. But you all really don’t want to hear about that, right? It involved turkey basters. It didn’t end well.
Anyways, getting back to Stark’s! Tina and I got pretty hungry and tried out some of their happy hour appetizers while chatting over our cocktails.

Delicious sweet potato fries

Meatloaf sliders

Calamari (this was my favorite!)

Tuna tacos

“balls” (when our waiter put these chicken meatballs down in front of us he simply said “balls”….and that’s what they were!)
Eventually, Almanzo showed up to save the day and we ended up sitting down in the lounge and eating dinner. At this point, I had been at Stark’s for two and a half hours and knew most of the staff on first name basis. That’s just how I roll.

On John’s recommendation, I tried the spinach salad for dinner, which had mushrooms and goat cheese in it and was topped with a runny truffled egg.


It was the best thing I ate all night. Love those farm fresh eggs….on everything.
I also had a half order of the beet and goat cheese ravioli:

It was good, but somehow seemed to lack the goat cheese? I thought the inside of these soft little ravioli pillows would be a combination of beets and goat cheese, but instead it was just beets….and no goat cheese. Or maybe there was goat cheese and I just missed it. I don’t know. I need to try it again. And again. And again.
After we ate (I had been at Stark’s for four hours at that point), we went downstairs and took a tour of the wine cellar. It reminded me of a castle dungeon!


I look confused….and I don’t know why. I also wore a black dress and brown cowboy boots. How do you feel about that?

Finally, we decided to call it a night. I bid farewell to my new friends and rolled right into my elastic pants.

Winner of Feta Friday!

Screen shot 2010-07-31 at 9.51.45 AM.png
Katie, email jenna [at] to claim your prize!

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  • Kerri Beth
    July 31, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I never understood the brown and black rule for clothes. Can someone explain?

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    July 31, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Haha, I’m with you on the gin front. Bad college experiences can really sour you toward a liquor. I had a particularly hard night with whiskey once and haven’t really touched it since.

    All that food looked delicious!! Glad you had a nice time 😀

  • jen
    July 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I think you can wear whatever color cowboy boots you damn well please. And you did. Also, turkey basters? I didn’t know anyone who owned a turkey baster in college…sounds fun, though.

  • katherine
    July 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Mmmm….how I love Starks – it was one of the first places I went when we moved to the Rosa. In Charleston currently on vacation…watching the college students move in. Thought of you!

  • Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews
    July 31, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Wow you got some great deals on some awesome looking food!

  • Camille
    July 31, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Those sweet potato fries look. so. good. I am dying.

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini
    July 31, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Cowboy boots should only ever come in brown (and that is coming from someone who rarely wears any colour other than black!)

  • Katie (Sweet Tater)
    July 31, 2010 at 10:32 am

    i am strongly in favor of the black and brown combination.

  • Meg
    July 31, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Now THAT’s how to eat dinner! You know, I used to be strongly averted to mixing black with brown. But now, I think it looks good when done right. I’d totally wear a black dress with brown cowboy boots. Maybe it’s a western states thing. 😉

  • VeggieGirl
    July 31, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I LOVE the name of the restaurant 😀

  • Tiffany
    July 31, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Your dinner looks amazing! We’re thinking of driving up to wine country for a long weekend, and that restaurant will definitely be on my radar!

    Turkey baster? Sounds like the beginnings of a great story! And i completely understand how college can create an aversion to different types of liquor. I went to school (and still live) in San Diego and just the thought of tequila makes my stomach turn.

    Love black and brown combos…and seriously, you can never go wrong with brown cowboy boots!

  • eatmovelove
    July 31, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Calarmari is a winner for appetizers.
    I’m having a really hard down day – just thinking about the thousands – about $8000 – I’ve lost the lost couple of months for so many (unwritten) reasons…and how hard it’s going to be to build back up …and pay down debt.
    Blah! Don’t know why I just wrote that here LOL!
    I think your post was just a go-with-the-flow and reminded me of that.

  • Kaley
    July 31, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Awww, the first rule of a real martini: gin! I love it, though, and I feel tough ordering a dirty one. Plus, olives! Love ’em.

    I love the look of the barrels.

  • Crunchy Granola Gal
    July 31, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I ate beet and goat cheese ravioli last night, too (at Butter in NYC, no less) and felt the same way about the lack of goat cheese. Funny.

  • gina (fitnessista)
    July 31, 2010 at 10:51 am

    i am going to make a version of that salad as soon as i get home
    sounds like a lovely night 🙂
    (for the record, black and brown is trendy this fall, so you’re doing good mami)

  • Marina
    July 31, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I like gin martinis actually 🙂 and gin tonic. But cocktails are the best, they go down your throat so easily :))
    beet and goat cheese ravioli… sounds amazing.

  • Tina
    July 31, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I love martinis! Martinis, wine, and margaritas are my favorite drink options. Can’t beat $2 ones!

    And I think you are probably safer telling the turkey baster story. Otherwise, all sorts of bad things come to mind. LOL

    You look stunning in that picture.

  • Hillary
    July 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I never can put brown and black together, but I bet you looked A-dorable!!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    July 31, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Fried calamari is the bees knees!

  • Amy @ Amy Starts to Run
    July 31, 2010 at 11:16 am

    $2 martinis? $1.50 appetizers? Beet and goat cheese ravioli? Barrels of wine? At a steakhouse? Sign this vegetarian up! Now!

  • Courtney (Delightful Devours)
    July 31, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Cute! You know it is a good night when you want your elastic waist pants…or maybe thats just me!

  • leslie
    July 31, 2010 at 11:32 am

    four hour dining experiences are my favorite. this looks like a wonderful evening.

    i also adore dirty martinis – but they have to be made with gin. college gave me a strong aversion to vodka, like you have with gin. let’s not relive that.

    also, i love mixing brown and black. it’s all about the way you wear it. i totally approve of your outfit!

  • Jaclyn
    July 31, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Wow, sounds like a truly amazing place! I love that you “knew half the staff on a first name basis,” always fun in my opinion at restaurants espc swanky, nice ones! Too bad about the lack of goat cheese in the ravioli, but perhaps like you said, you need to just try it again?! 😉

  • Cynthia (It All Changes)
    July 31, 2010 at 11:36 am

    But you love beets so the lack of goat cheese won’t stop you from eating them again. 🙂 Those sweet potato fries are amazing looking. I love added herbs.

  • Exercise and Eat
    July 31, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Love those kind of nights! I need one soon:)

  • dcwright02
    July 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

    gin and TURKEY BASTERS? now my mind is spinning all KINDS of stories around that little jewel! anyways, my avoidance of choice would have to be tequila (shots, not margaritas… ok, maybe just a whole 5th in one night…). It didn’t end well… Food looks amazing! Love the sweet potato fries! thanks for the blog!

  • helen
    July 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    black and brown can look so chic together. i’m sure you pulled it off wonderfully!

  • Tom
    July 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    IMHO, a girl can wear brown cowboy boots with whatever she pleases! I may have different opinions when it comes to men wearing cowboy boots though 🙂

    Okay, I’ve been wanting to drive over to Yountville for a weekend getaway, but based on your description of Starks alone, I may forgo the Napa Valley and head straight to Santa Rosa!

    PS You can order a martini with vodka, and you’d most likely enjoy it “dry” rather than “dirty” if you like cosmos 😉

  • Katherine
    July 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I support the mixing of black and brown. It’s totally do able. I love dirty gin martini’s… one of my “go to” drinks!

  • The Wife of a Dairyman
    July 31, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Two dollar martinis! What?!! and $1.50 apps? Wow, I need to visit this place 🙂

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    July 31, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Love the pix. Love the black dress and probably it was a boots kinda night/place. I had martinis once. Sound glamorous, look pretty, too much for me.

  • Melanie
    July 31, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I love Starks! The place is so swanky and cool. We’ve been there for dinner and it has been delicious every time, but we need to try the happy hour!

  • The Wife of a Dairyman
    July 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    P.S. I have been loving the brown black combo I’ve been seeing over the past year. Definitely expands the outfit possibilities! You looked great!

  • Daisy
    July 31, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I get my dirty martinis with vodka. I heart vodka > gin. Dirty martinis are all over my blog. 😉

    Amazing that you spent 4 hours eating and drinking at that place. drooling. as usual.

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth)
    July 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Sounds like an amazing time happy houring!! 🙂 I had a terrible experience with gin as well. It involved my first time drinking ever. And V8 splash. Gross.

    All of that food looks great. I can’t believe how cheap everything is!! I’ll definitely pay John a visit the next time I’m up North.

  • Liz
    July 31, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    The next time you’re out, ask for an extra-dirty martini made with Absolut Citron. It sounds really weird, but it is sooooo good. Salty and a little tart. (Had this first in NYC.) You might like that one.

    And if you don’t like gin, try Hendricks gin. It’s made with rose and cucumbers (and the usual juniper), and is so smooth and light it’s easily sippable. Try a “martini” with Hendricks, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and muddled basil. DELICIOUS. (Had this first in DC.)

  • Sheri
    July 31, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I wear my brown boots with everything. Black, grey, navy, whatever. There are no rules anymore.

  • Stacey
    July 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    The waiter probably had a thing for you. 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is
    July 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I love dirty martinis. I’m gonna have a few myself tonight.

  • Sarah keegan
    July 31, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I love Stark’s!! The Black and Blue Ahi is to die for. Tonight we are going to ZaZu’s but strongly considered Stark’s.

  • Mom
    July 31, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Oh Yes! Black and Brown are amazing together… Just as Gold and Silver (in jewelry) work too! This was not so even just a few years ago…

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine
    July 31, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Whoa, what an awesome dinner. I’d love that experience! 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    July 31, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Haha I have an aversion to gin due to a past experience with it too. It involved Cuba and an open bar. Enough said. 😛

  • RhodeyGirl
    July 31, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I LOVE this post. I also think I love John.

  • Rosey Rebecca
    July 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Love that pic of you! You look so pretty. 🙂 Brown/Black equals two thumbs up, especially if cowboy boots are involved.
    All of the food looks amazing! You go to the best places.

  • Stephanie
    July 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I love that picture of you, it looks like it belongs in a movie. I almost didn’t recognize you!

  • Jennifer
    July 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I can’t believe those “happy hour: prices”. That’s awesome. You alo take very nice it!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    July 31, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    sounds like a killer steakhouse! and i agree with stephanie…that picture of you is gorgeous! your hair is so long!

  • Vicky @ eat live spin
    July 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Dinner looked amazing… and I have to say I love that your wine was “Dakota 2006” because its my dogs name! Awesome picture, you look like a movie star!

  • Jenna
    July 31, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Sounds like great food!

  • Nicole
    July 31, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Gin Bucket!

  • Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun)
    July 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Haha, I would actually love nothing more than to hear the turkey baster gin story. Sounds promising and amusing!

    Looks like you noshed on a delicious stream of dishes last night, particularly those tuna tacos and the ravioli.

  • Beth
    July 31, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Let me guess – did your gin and turkey baster story have to do with a good old gin bucket? 🙂

  • jassy
    July 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    had a bad experience with gin also during college, i’d rather have tequila and vodka…no beer though! 🙂

    have a nice day!!! 🙂

  • Susan
    July 31, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I love the lounge at Stark’s! Will have to try happy hour one of these days.

  • Amber K
    August 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I always make vodka martinis. I am not a fan of gin!

    But what a fun night. =)

  • Corinne
    August 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    i feel great about your black dress and brown cowboy boots. work it girl. i also feel really great about 2$ martinis and 1.50$ apps!!

  • Caitlyn
    July 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I looove your blog. I also love this post! Mark (Stark) is a good family friend of mine- last time I was in CA he was only just building Stark’s. It looks like he has, yet again, pulled off a great restaurant!!

    If you haven’t already, you should check out some of his other places:
    Willi’s Wine Bar
    Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar
    Monti’s Rotisserie and Bar

    Look forward to reading more of your blog, and getting some great recipes!