My life- in 2D.
The Old West In New Jersey
Just off of Route 38 in Mount Laurel, NJ is a great Western- themed restaurant, bar, and dance hall called Prospector’s Steakhouse & Saloon. The theme might instantly conjure up bad memories of dining at The Ponderosa Steakhouse but let me assure you, there’s no comparison.
Upon walking through the main entrance, the first thing you notice right in front of you, is the enormous salad bar- more on that later. My guest and I were taken to our table, in the middle of a vast dining area- filled with people chatting and enjoying their meals.
Almost immediately one of the staff brings a basket with two piping-hot sweet yeast rolls. Amazing. You could see the steam release when ripped apart, a little hint of sweet to the taste, and were so light and fluffy. Great beginning….
Enjoying the roll and looking over the menu, I took in the scenery around us. Yes, it was a typical Western-theme, pictures paintings and sculptures of cowboys, with the obligatory mounted animal heads, and animal skins on the walls. I got the biggest kick, of course (being a big kid myself), out of the train on a track surrounding the whole room, circling above everyone’s head.
The menu itself is very extensive- and with nightly specials at Prospectors, you’ll never have a problem of finding something for everyone. Click here to view the menu.
The waitress arrived (she was awesome throughout the whole meal), then took our order. I was told that with your dinner you either get soup, a pre-made salad, or the salad bar. No brainer! Of course, we opted for the salad bar.
My mistake- The “Produce Wagon”, as it’s called at Prospectors. This thing is huge- about 20 feet from left to right, I’d estimate. Ice cold plates out of a refrigerated icebox makes all the difference in the world, as far as I’m concerned- and Prospectors has one. I can’t remember all of the offerings (most of your typical salad bar fare), but there was an abundance of it, and it all looked very fresh. I had the mixed greens with crushed hard- boiled egg, a little touch of bacon bits and some thousand island dressing. I’m a salad minimalist- and even more so since I was aware of the meal that was coming my way soon. I usually don’t do croutons either, but when I saw how fresh and obviously homemade they looked I had to try a couple. Crunchy, toasty, garlicky and delicious. Things were going very well…..
About five minutes to digest the salads and our main course arrived. It’s Wednesday night at Prospectors- and BBQ Baby Back Ribs is the special. Hello. For those that know me personally, I’m a sucker for ribs- any kind, but especially baby backs.
All the clichés- smoky; tender; fall-off-the-bone; blah, blah,blah…….. are true here. Perfectly done, with a touch of caramelized char on the outer meat of the rib. What I most loved about the ribs was that the sauce had that baked-in quality. There’s nothing worse for me than ribs overly-slathered in sauce, so much that you’re eating more sauce than rib. Not the case here- they were perfect. In fact, a little dish of barbecue sauce was on the plate for dipping, if I chose to do so. From the sides that I had to choose from, I decided to do the “healthy” thing, being that I’m downing a rack of ribs- and opted for the sweet potato, sans butter and cinnamon. I just love sweet potatoes plain and simple. The sweet potato rocked- cooked to a perfect softness, and was literally the size of a softball. I’m happy.
My dining partner, and girlfriend Kelly (The Jirish one- see my Doug Heffernan blog), ordered the Chicken Oscar- which is boneless chicken breast, topped with crabmeat, asparagus spears, and hollandaise sauce. I tried a bite, and while all of the ingredients were fresh and very well-prepared, and i like all of the ingredients separately, it just didn’t jive with me. What’s important here, however- is that my dining partner loved it. Along with her main coarse she ordered the macaroni and cheese. Um…… good choice. Wow! This side dish was a brick- sized portion of baked mac and cheese, with the perfect cheese-to-pasta ratio. Insanely good stuff, and huge- most of it is sitting in our fridge right now, waiting to be reheated.
For dessert, we decided to split a chocolate mousse- another weakness of mine (I have quite a few), with our coffee. A few spoonfuls into the airy, chocolaty, rich goodness and we gave up. I usually never leave a dessert unfinished, but I had more than enough by then. Kelly- she gave up after the second spoonful. I keep telling her to not try and keep up with me- it’s a futile thing by nature.
All in all, a great meal and fun time. Dinner ran about $60 after tax and tip- not bad for the belt-loosening feast we enjoyed so much. There’s also a sports bar area we never got to experience, with nightly specials- and offers all of the sports packages. Also, there’s a nightclub for line-dancing and the like, if that’s your thing.
If you’re ever in Mt. Laurel, NJ make sure you stop by for a spell- you won’t regret it.