by Mary Cokenour
It is April 1995, Jean and Howard Brundage open up a restaurant that will quickly become a Bluff, UT icon; the Cottonwood Steakhouse.
Eleven years later, Rick Reeb and Diana Davidson decide to visit Utah; taking a rafting trip along the San Juan River via Wild River Expeditions. They are awestruck by the beauty and serenity of the area; seeing the Cottonwood Steakhouse later on along Main Street, they decide to stop in for dinner.
Amazed at the quality of the food, service and atmosphere; a sign comes into view, “Owners tired and looking to retire. If interested in buying this restaurant, call…” This must be fate!
March 2007, Rick and Diana open up the Steakhouse for the season, and have been having the time of their lives for the past nine years.
Rick Reeb (a Philadelphia son) and wife, Diana Davidson (an Oklahoma gal) have passion and love, not just for each other, but for the Cottonwood Steakhouse experience.
The pride in Rick’s voice as he explained how the steaks come from the Grand Valley Company located in Grand Junction, CO. The meat is butchered, flash frozen and delivered within a two day period; and gone just as quickly! Diana has baker’s pride in her homemade bread, pies, bread pudding and brownies; her mom’s recipes are no stranger to Cottonwood’s kitchen.
So, let’s get to the total Cottonwood Steakhouse experience. As soon as you park and open your vehicle door, the savory scent of grilled onions fills your nostrils, your salivary glands begin pumping hard. Walking to the entrance, you can see the cook working his magic over cast iron pots full of potatoes and onions.
You are greeted by the friendliest staff, and the big decision comes – seating inside with its full rustic charm, or seating outside with Old West regalia, and the huge, old cottonwood tree. Hint; leave the inside for inclement weather, the outside is glorious!
The menu is chock full of mouthwatering steaks (thick and juicy), ribs (bbq sauce smoky and spicy), chops, chicken and brisket (bbq sauce sweet and spicy); the key word is tender…oh so tender; steak knife is optional!
Included with the main meal item are those savory potatoes; ranch beans so flavorful, you can’t stop eating them; vegetable; salad (bleu cheese dressing is house made) or coleslaw; and warm, freshly made bread. If you’re lucky, the vegetable will be carrots; slow roasted with olive oil and herbs, so the carrots own sugar creates an amazing glaze.
If it’s in season, and it is now, savor a cup of the Roasted Tomato Basil Soup; semi-chunky, slow roasted tomatoes and freshly chopped basil; you can definitely tell this soup is made from scratch.
Newest item on the menu is Seafood Skewers, chunks of halibut and salmon between layers of red bell pepper and red onion, served with rice pilaf; so good!
But wait, leave some room for dessert; pecan, cherry and key lime pies at all times; other fruit pies are available when in season. Diana uses her mom’s recipe for the pie crust which includes corn oil and milk; here comes that word tender again.
Bread pudding full of cinnamon, piping hot and covered in Jack Daniels Whisky sauce; brownies thick and rich with chocolate are the star in the Brownie Sundae.
There were three in our party for dinner, and we happily round robin-ed our meals and desserts.
The servers were so attentive with, “How is your meal?”, “Is everything to your liking?, “Do you need anything else?”; all we could do was answer with “Mmmmm, mmmm”, “Yum”, smacking lips and many a “Oh my God, this is awesome!!!”
All around us, diners were laughing, smiling, and stuffing their mouths with all the delicious awesomeness of their own meals. Several times we would hear Rick say to departing diners, “Thanks for coming back again!” Business is definitely booming for them in Bluff; and the place was jumping for a quiet Sunday evening.
On the way home, Roy and I were basically silent for the hour drive home to Monticello. We were basking in the afterglow of the most fantastic meal we’d had in ages... and wondering when the top button on our jeans was going to pop off; hoping it would not hit the windshield and chip it.
Cottonwood Steakhouseon Main Street (Highway 191), Bluff, UT, 84512, Phone: 435-672-2282, Open Monday thru Sunday, 5:30-9:30 p.m., www.cottonwoodsteakhouse.com Reservations Recommended; Beer and Wine menus available.