When the invitation to check out Steakhouse No. 316 in Boulder arrived in my inbox, I was, to be honest, a bit suspicious. Could Conor O’Neill’s, the Irish pub where I’d spent plenty of nights in my college years watching my friends’ bands play and slamming Irish Car Bombs, really be transformed into a high end, nay, boutique, steak house? (I make no attempt to address the question of “should it?” here, leaving readers to their own opinions.)
Standing in the entry area as the host hung my coat, I could see that the transformation was real. While the bones of the former nearly 20-year-old pub remain, gone are the worn wooden furnishings and Irish signposts. If you came upon the month-old steak house today having never been to Conor’s, you might think that it had looked this way for years. The paneling is dark, the lighting low, the banquettes dressed in crushed red velvet, and the tables draped in white linen. Framed portraits and paintings of presidents and mid-century starlets, a crackling fireplace, taxidermy, and wrought-iron sconces give the space a feeling of permanence and longevity.
It’s all the brainchild of Craig and Samantha Cordts-Pearce of CP Restaurant Group. While this is their first Front Range endeavor, the pair operate five restaurants in Aspen, including the Wild Fig and the original, now seven-year-old Steakhouse No. 316. As their search for restaurant space in the Denver area dragged on, Conor O’Neill’s owner, Colm O’Neill, endured a rent-related roller coaster ride including temporarily shuttering, reopening, and then finally closing his business for good—the Cordts-Pearces took over.
Craig, who did much of the construction for the new space himself, is hoping that the “super swanky and sexy” steak house will appeal to citizens of the People’s Republic as much as it has to Aspenites. The menu certainly provides all the classic comforts of the genre: seafood towers, prime porterhouses and tomahawks, á la carte sides like roasted wild mushrooms and baked potatoes, and pitch-perfect caesar salad, prepared tableside. Those longing for the bygone days of Conor’s might not celebrate the high-end decor and high-priced dinner offerings, but they may be pleasantly surprised by the bar menu: Local beers from Epic Brewing Company and Good River Beer are priced at $5, and a bison cheeseburger and fries can be had for $16.
1922 13th Street, Boulder, 720-729-1922