I, like many others, am a fan of the HBO series Deadwood. I also may have custom artwork of some of the characters in my house. But that’s a story for another time.
For a quick background, May of 1876 Al Swearengen arrived in Deadwood. By the end of the week, he had a dancehall in full swing called The Gem Theater, which officially opened in 1877.
“The Gem was one of the longest running ‘entertainment venues’ in town,” said Joni Hamann, Mineral Palace director of player development. “It really was a brothel, to be honest.”
Now dubbed The Gem Steakhouse & Saloon, it’s located in the original site of the theater inside of the Mineral Palace complex.
“We’ve focused on the history, so the menu has items based off of a character from the series,” said Hamann. “We take great pride that we’re the original location. A lot of people do come look for us because we’re The Gem.”
The restaurant is on the second floor of the building, and the 605 crew arrived via elevator on a Friday evening. As we were in the area shooting stories and to throw the 605 Black Hills Classic, we were sweaty messes, which worked out as there’s no dress code.
“If you want a good steak, come here. We’re nothing fancy, we’re just us,” said Hamann. “You can be yourself, and it’s the way you like it.”
It was definitely a place where you could come as you are or get dressed up and feel like ordering a bottle of wine with your meal. Our table had a view of the bar, which led off to a patio overlooking Main Street. Funny enough, it was directly across from The Brothel Deadwood, which is where we had just come from.
Due to the Deadwood fires, The Gem was resurrected several times, but the Great Fire of 1899 closed its doors for good. In its prime, it would take in as much as $10,000 in a single evening.
After we noshed on a vegetable tray to get a good base, we started with Gold Strike Chislic. This typically has six ounces of breaded or unbreaded beef chislic served with a choice of steak sauce or BBQ sauce. We got both. Though both were cooked to tender perfection, we agreed the seasoning made the breaded option the winner (I know, chislic connoisseurs are gonna hate).
“It literally falls apart,” said 605 multimedia designer Peyton Brokiewicz on the tenderness.
“Yeah, sometimes chislic can be cooked to the point where it’s like beef jerky,” said 605 account manager Taylor Hanson.
We were intrigued that the chislic was also served with oranges and cheese cubes. And we were intrigued enough to devour it.
+BADLANDS BUFFALO POPS
Pulled chicken wings covered with hot sauce, served with celery, carrot sticks, and bleu cheese dip.
SOUPS & SALADS
+RIBEYE STEAK SALAD
Six ounces of grilled and seasoned ribeye steak thinly sliced and served on a bed of iceberg lettuce, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, shredded carrots, and cabbage.
CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF STEAKS
+SETH’S FILET MIGNON
A freshly cut 10-ounce tenderloin steak wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, char-broiled to the patron’s liking.
+DORITY’S BLACK & BLEU SIRLOIN
An eight-ounce center-cut top sirloin steak prepared to the patron’s liking, topped with melted bleu cheese.
OTHER DINNER SELECTIONS
+MR. WOO’S RICE & FIRE ROASTED VEGETABLES
A mixture of red rice, brown rice, Anaheim peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, black beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, roasted garlic, cilantro, and lime.
Next up included Merrick’s Garlic Ribeye (a 12-ounce aged ribeye, charbroiled and topped with hot garlic butter and parmesan cheese) and Cochran’s Strip (a 12-ounce aged New York strip steak prepared to the patron’s liking and topped with either melted blue cheese or hot garlic butter and parmesan cheese). We had the blue cheese.
How have I never thought to melt cheese on my steak? Where did I miss this (simple) memo?
The team was split on which one was the best, when the Mineral Palace Ribeye hit the table like a boulder. This 34-ounce choice bone-in ribeye was charbroiled medium rare to medium. Note, if you order this item, allow more time for the massiveness (and majesty) of it.
Lead multimedia designer Jordan Cushman quietly exclaimed, “Dear God,” as it was placed in front of him.
Peyton only eats meat on rare occasions, and this was that said occasion. The entire meal was definitely an example of why people travel from all over the world to order steak from South Dakota. They did it justice.
Just as we took our napkins off of our (bloated) laps, Chocolate Lava Cake, Cheesecake, Bananas Foster Cheesecake, Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, and Tuxedo Cheesecake appeared.
We groaned. We ate. We cleaned our plates.
It was a great Friday night in Deadwood. We were beyond full of some of the best steak I’ve had in a while. We finished the experience with boozy ice cream drinks and looked out at Main Street to people watch. I’m looking forward to coming back to try breakfast and lunch. Heck, maybe I’ll just stay there.
As Hamann mentioned, it’s a very casual atmosphere. But it’s the atmosphere where The Gem Theater once stood, which is legendary. Also, you don’t have to twist my arm to have a cocktail on the patio and have one of the best views on Main Street.
It’s a steakhouse, but you can choose anything from a $9.95 quesadilla to a $52.95 34-ounce ribeye. Try items like Earp’s Sirloin for only $14.95. Affordable meat? Done.
Peyton doesn’t eat steak hardly ever, and she was digging each dish. That Mineral Palace Ribeye is forever engraved in my mind, and now I’m only eating my steak with melted cheese on top. It won’t be the same, though.