Riding High in the Saddle at The Steer
The Steer Restaurant and Saloon has been a landmark on the face of Main Street in the University Heights District since 1969. Known for being Buffaloâ€™s oldest steakhouse, The Steer has been owned by Erin and Tucker Curtin since 1993, and during that time they've made many changes and improvements to it. Since then, the Curtins have also opened two other restaurants; The Lake Effect Diner (also on Main Street), and Dugâ€™s Dive (at the Small Slip Harbor).
Renovating The Steer's dining room was the first priority, and the addition of a fireplace imparts warmth and coziness to the space. Next on the list was the construction of a brick and wrought iron enclosed patio for warm weather eating, lit by torches designed by Tucker himself. Currently, the Curtins are in the process of renovating the second floor of The Steer to accommodate private parties and additional guests on busy evenings.
The building was not the only recipient of Tucker's handy work, the menu also got an overhaul. Today The Steer considers itself as a â€śgastropubâ€ť, a term defined by Wikipedia as â€ś ...a British term for a public house ("pub") which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic 'pub grub'.â€ť This change is most obvious in the newly launched â€śGastro Spring Specialsâ€ť portion of the menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see this kind of menu being offered in addition to the more traditional menu The Steer is best known for.
This new spring menu boasts a variety of options. Appetizers include a pizza topped with smoked salmon and wasabi cream cheese ($10) and a focaccia featuring caramelized onions ($9). Also present is a casual but tasty offering of an Angus burger topped with bacon and bleu cheese served with fresh cut french fries ($9). Entrees include a blackened Ahi tuna over warm black beans ($19), an 8oz. salmon filet marinated in a curry yogurt sauce ($18), Haddock aâ€™la Grecque topped with spinach and feta ($12), and a Maine lobster tail poached in champagne and butter ($26).
On a recent visit to The Steer, my guest and I decided to share our meals in order to sample a number of the tempting dishes offered from both portions of the menu. For starters we ordered the Half Rack of Ribs ($12) and Crispy Calamari ($7). The baby back ribs were full of flavor. After being seasoned with a dry rub and slowly smoked over hickory wood they are then brushed with homemade barbecue sauce and grilled. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce was great--slightly sweet and spicy without being hot--and nicely balanced by the mellow undercurrent of the dry rub. The calamari was lightly coated in seasoned flour, flash fried and served with red chili marinara sauce or a chipotle cream sauce. Our calamari was tender and crisp, and the chipotle cream we selected provided a spicy little kick.
For entrees, my guest selected the 6oz filet mignon ($21). This aged Certified Hereford Beef filet is cut to order, grilled, and served over garlic croutons with a side of sour cream mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. Ordered medium rare, this perfectly grilled cushion of beef was so tender that I used a butter knife to cut myself a piece. When I gently pressed on the meat with my finger, it was as if I were pressing on freshly made marshmallow. This was my first experience with Hereford beef, and I must say the flavor and texture is extraordinary. My guest opted for the au poivre sauce (a $3 extra charge) to complement the filet, and it did.
For my entree, I could not resist the Champagne and Butter Poached Lobster Tail. The plate arrived at the table and was quite a sight. A base of mashed potatoes cradled the split lobster tail, which acted as a cornucopia for a bundle of grilled asparagus. Garnished with garlic toast and lemon wedges, this 10oz tail was moist, tender, sweet and succulent with the richness of the butter and a soft fruitiness imparted by the champagne. It is definitely worth a second visit.
The Steerâ€™s standard menu offers an array of starters like Spinach Artichoke Bread, Portabella Mushroom Strips, Quesadillas, Stuffed Hot Peppers, Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Fingers, and The Steer's own famous Chicken Wings.
Entrees vary from pastas (Spinach Ravioli, Shrimp Scampi), and burgers and wraps to meat-free entrees perfect for the vegetarian. Any of the steaks can be prepared with one of the following sauces (for an additional $3): au poivre (with cracked peppercorns, brandy and cream), bearnaise (an emulsion sauce made with tarragon, white wine, shallots, eggs and butter), or marsala mushroom (sauteed mushrooms with a Marsala wine and cream reduction). If you enjoy surf with your turf, you can add a 10oz. lobster tail to your plate for an additional $24.
Desserts are also offered and most are restaurant made. We shared the Chocolate Cake with Ganache, a rich, dark chocolate layer cake frosted with chocolate ganache and garnished with a berry coulis and whipped cream. On my next visit I look forward to sampling the Peanut Butter Pie with Oreo crust.
There is also a menu for The Little Buckaroos (children) with prices ranging from $4 to $12, which includes a scoop of ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert. Every Monday is 35Â˘ wing night, and every Thursday is 1/2 price burger night from 4-7PM.
The Steer is a warm and welcoming place that feels like an old friend. Guests are often greeted at the door by Tucker himself, which is a nice personal touch. Depending on your mood, you may join the festivities in the bar area, the patio, or opt for more of a relaxed atmosphere in the dining room. The bar features flat screen monitors for viewing sporting events, and the dining room is adorned with cloth napkins and tablecloths and that cozy fireplace I mentioned before. Whichever room you choose, the same menu is available, and it offers a wide variety of dishes--something for every palate.
There is a broad cross-section of patrons who dine at The Steer. If you are with a group of people, each of them wanting something different for dinner, I suggest you mosey over to The Steer where everyone is sure to be satisfied. Perhaps you have a hankering for a perfectly grilled steak, or are looking to graze on a several appetizers with a nice cocktail. Maybe you're more interested in an ice cold beer and fish fry--whatever you are craving, you will find it at The Steer.
The Steer Restaurant and Saloon
3151 Main Street, Buffalo 14214