EDMOND — In December 1998, while most people between Edmond and Norman were checking off gift lists and preparing for what would be a bone-chilling Christmas, Peter and Sheree Holloway were prepared to unwrap a gift to the public — prime beef.
The Holloways had already built an impressive portfolio of restaurants. Pepperoni Grill was the first in a wave of modern Italian restaurants that would change the way pizza and pasta were served. Cafe 501 was an eclectic mix of flavors turned out from fresh ingredients — whether baked, grilled or tossed — served fast-casual by day and full service at night. There were others, the couple drinking in knowledge passed down from Jim Vallion and Gene Smelser.
But in late 1998, the Holloways unveiled what would be and still is the piece de resistance in their arsenal of eateries, Boulevard Steakhouse.
“This was the first prime steakhouse in Oklahoma City,” said Margaret Holloway, Peter's sister. “We wanted to bring the feel of the Chicago chop house to Oklahoma City.”
Adjacent to the then-3-year-old Cafe 501, Boulevard introduced the metro to a different way of experiencing steak.
“The idea was to show where the steakhouse had been taken in bigger cities,” Margaret Holloway said.
And the man to share the flavor was chef Jimmy Stepney, who has been with Boulevard since day one, save for a short sabbatical to Houston.
“Our goal is to give you a special experience,” Stepney said. “Prime beef is a special beef, so we want everything to be special, from the decor to the desserts.”
Striving for perfection
Warmth greets you as you enter in oak and iron tones. The ceilings are high and the lighting as low as embers. Crisp, white tablecloths drape tables adorned in crystal. Large private rooms beyond the main dining room scream special occasion.
A setting this decadent deserves no less than custom-aged prime beef at the center of the menu.
My favorite is the bawdy Blackened Bone-In Rib-eye, which delicately clings to the bone until you summon it away with knife and fork. Resistance is minimal thanks to Stepney's fire-wrought training.
The cowboy-cut is wreathed in flame, protected only by a tile of cast-iron, before a brief stay in a double-broiler and at least 10 minutes respite from fire before taking residence on a white plate with a trimmed Vidalia onion and tomato, each well-charred top and bottom like the steak. All three offer the pleasing, sultry flavor of flame on the surface with the sweet, tender flavors of the ingredients beneath. Simple food, simple execution, simply perfect result.