Black Rock: DIY dinners

Cooking your own steak means you can't complain about the chef.

"Wait, you have to cook your own steak?" my cousin asked me. 

I can understand her question, because I had it, too. She has a toddler and a full-time job and she goes out to dinner to relax, not  to cook her own meals. Me? No toddler, but my job feels like a two-year-old some days, so I approached a preview of Carrollwood steakhouse Black Rock Bar and Grill with some trepidation. Cook my own steak? 

Yes, cook my own steak. On a 755º lava stone the server brings tableside (at least I didn't have to use two sticks to start my own fire). 

The verdict? This is not as much work as you'd think, but if you like your steak rare — as I do — preparing your steak on a lava stone can prove tricky. 

Here's how it works: You order your steak and your server comes to your table with hot lava stone, on top of which sits your (mostly) raw steak. The stone cooks the steak, although as a slab of meat it doesn't cook quickly — you have to cut it to cook it the way you like it, so in essence you're cooking your steak one bite at a time. The server shows you how it's done, asking how you'd like your steak, then cutting a bite-sized piece and letting it sear on each side for up to 30 seconds.

OK, it's not that much work, but I ruined more than one bite of my sirloin by letting it sit too long on the lava. Like I said, I prefer my steak bloody, and on this superheated stone, that simply isn't easy. It's an art, truly, to cook steak on a lava stone.

Still, the wine was good, the accompanying lobster tail tasted good and by the time we considered dessert — they have this mountain of sugar and chocolate and vanilla they top with a lit sparkler — we couldn't have forced another bite.

click to enlarge Also, the stones get scrubbed after they cool. This stone was clean before I started eating. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
Also, the stones get scrubbed after they cool. This stone was clean before I started eating.

Some odd party trivia about Black Rock:

  • The stones take between six and eight hours to heat.
  • The ovens heating the stones run 24/7.
  • The stones take six hours to cool.
  • The servers say they save the time it takes to explain to each table how to cook their steak by getting the food out more quickly.
  • You can't cook your own chicken (duh) but they do have non-steak options.
  • If you don't want to cook your own steak, the kitchen will cook it for you (management told us about 10% of diners opt for this)

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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