The Emporium opened two weeks ago without much fanfare or advertising, but that hasn't deterred locals from making the trip to check out what the restaurant has to offer.
My wife and I arrived around 5 p.m. on Saturday evening and there were only a few other parties in the restaurant. By the time we left an hour later, the front door was getting a workout as other curious diners were beginning to fill the dining room.
The space is open and light with a rustic look and feel, but it is not dark and foreboding like many western themed restaurants.
There is a full bar, but the beer selection is not extensive and there is only one beer on tap. I'm a Budweiser person so I stuck to more familiar fare.
But it was more than adequate for me and most of the friends I hang out with. Any bar that serves beer and whiskey is a good bar. If it is connected to a great restaurant its a great bar.
When we entered the restaurant, we were immediately met by a young lady who also acted as our server. She was courteous and checked on us often to see if there was anything we needed. Customer service seemed to be at the top of the "to do" list the whole time we were there.
The menu is not extensive either. BBQ ribs, ribeye and salmon are the standard fare, served with fresh veggies and a choice of potatoes.
Our order was taken when we were ready, which we both appreciated. A dinner salad is extra, but we ordered it anyway, and we were glad we did. Green and leafy there was no hint of the often over used ice burg lettuce. Garnished with red onion, fresh tomatoes, which actually tasted like tomatoes, and a few other non-typical additions, it was set off by a Bleu cheese dressing that was clearly not out of a bottle. My wife had the ranch dressing, which she thought was the best she had in a restaurant in quite awhile.
We also ordered onion rings as an appetizer. I love a good batch of onion rings, and theirs were a good batch of onion rings. Not frozen, packaged or greasy, the onion rings were crisp, hot and did not need any sauce to add flavor.
I ordered the BBQ ribs and my wife ordered the salmon, both of which were excellent in presentation, tenderness and, most importantly, taste. The ribs literally fell off the bone. We probably didn't say more than a half-dozen words to each other as we chowed down.
I don't know any other way to say it, "It was great food!!!"
Dennis Simmons, who owns the restaurant and is the head chef, told me that their specialty is Osso Bucco, which is a marinated pork shank. However, I learned this after I had already devoured my BBQ ribs. Though I can't pronounce it, Osso Bucco will be my next order of business at the Emporium, soon.
Though Hawk Springs is an unincorporated town 25 mile south of Torrington and about 60 miles north of Cheyenne, The Emporium is definitely worth the trip. If you hail from out of the area and are just passing through on your way to somewhere else, it is worth a stop.
The Emporium in Hawk Springs is open 10-to-10 Tuesday through Sunday and has a lunch menu as well as a dinner menu. I have not had one of their burgers, but that is certainly on my "to eat list" right after the Osso Bucco.
The restaurant business is a tough business, but if, as they say, its about great food, great service and a clean environment, the Emporium is well on its way to be a great success here in our part of the world.