Summer is so close now you can taste it. No, really, you can actually taste it here at The Steer with our Summer Drink Specials. Our bartenders have carefully crafted some refreshing libations, and no- they will not be juggling bottles, pouring drinks over their shoulders, or lighting anything on fire (we hope). You can Netflix Tom Cruise in 1988’s cinematic masterpiece, Cocktail, in all its cheesy glory if that’s what you’re looking for. At The Steer we want to bring some fresh ingredients together with some quality booze to make classic drinks and also some original concoctions of our own. Think muddling. For anyone not familiar with the term “muddle”, it means to combine ingredients in the bottom of a glass by pressing them down with a muddler to let the juices and flavors open up and mingle before adding the drink’s liquids. A muddler is a long tool almost shaped like a baseball bat. It is an essential bar tool with one end being larger and rounded to mash ingredients, while the other end is thinner for stirring. Older ones were made out of wood. More modern versions are stainless steel or plastic and have teeth on the bottom. Making a drink this way may take a little longer, but you will not mind when you taste the result.
Ready to wet your whistle? Consider a Mojito. This summer favorite is made with white rum, club soda, mint, lime, and a bit of sugar. The mint and lime are muddled first to release the mint oil and lime juices. We have also tweaked the classic Mojito and come up with some new variations. Try our Strawberry, Pineapple, or Raspberry Mojitos. Not a Mojito fan? Our very own Cool As A Cucumber is another summer time refresher: Muddled cucumber, Tito’s Vodka, St. Germaine, and soda. The drink lives up to its name. Or maybe you’re dreaming of some time on the water… Then I would recommend the sailors’ delight- the Dark And Stormy: Mount Gay or Pusser’s Rum, Ginger Beer, and Lime. The Moscow Mule is another hot weather favorite that also features Ginger Beer and Lime, but as the name implies, vodka is the featured liquor in this one. If your taste runs truly tropical, the Missionary’s Downfall is for you: Bacardi Pineapple, Peach Schnapps, Sugar, Pineapple Juice, Muddled Mint, and Lime. Other drinks include the Elder Collins: Bombay Gin, St. Germaine, Lemon, and Soda; the Caipirinha: Leblon, Simple Syrup, and Muddled lime; four flavors of Margaritas: Classic, Pineapple, Strawberry, and Raspberry; and a weekly Sangria Flavor.
All of these Specialty Drinks are made to order by hand with fresh seasonal ingredients. Enjoy one while dining inside or out, or spend happy hour on our Rooftop Patio, which opens daily at 4pm. Summer weather has finally hit Buffalo. Let’s enjoy the flavors of summer before we are assaulted again by the inevitable bombardment of pumpkin spiced everything.
Mention the Full Moon and you may receive many different reactions. Some believe the moon brings out the crazy in people- hence the term “lunatic” and “lunacy”. Of course this belief probably is most likely what gave rise to the legend of werewolves, and other creatures of the night. Cue: “I see a bad moon rising…” But while the moon does have it’s sinister side in many stories and legends, another side is that it has been traditionally honored and worshiped for the good things each cycle can bring to those who pay homage to it.
Since ancient times, many different cultures have given names and meanings to the full moon throughout the year. In mythology and numerous ancient religions of different parts of the world, the moon has been worshiped as a deity or associated with particular gods and goddesses. To many, including the North American Native American tribes, the phases of the moon had a direct relationship with the growth and decline of plant, animal, and human life. The Native American tribes kept track of the harvest seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. The names of the full moons created by Algonquin tribes of North America became the most well known. Even European settlers adopted this Native American tradition of naming the full moons and invented some variations of their own. The full moon cycles of the spring, summer, and fall were especially celebrated, because these months were the harvest or the best hunting or fishing months, when the earth provided the tribes with its bounty and sustenance.
Here at The Steer we would like to bring back the tradition of honoring each monthly cycle of the moon by hosting monthly Full Moon Parties- starting with the upcoming Full Strawberry Moon appearing on June 2, 2015. This is the name of June’s Full Moon. It is named of course for the sweet strawberries, which reach their peak at this time of the year. The Strawberry Moon is one of the few full moon names that is universal to the Algonquin Tribes, although in Europe is it commonly referred to as the Rose Moon since strawberries are not native over there. (Could it be the Rosé Moon in France? If so I want to get in on that.) This year June’s full moon coincides with the Grand Opening of our Roof Top Patio- Coincidence? We don’t think so. For our first Full Moon Party we will feature the live music from Steve Balesteri (check him out at www.stevebalesteri.com ) Also, Soft Shell Crabs are in season and will be a featured menu item as an appetizer and a Po' Boy Sandwich, as well as Strawberry Dessert Nachos, Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza, Curried Lobster Mushroom Pasta, and a Strawberry Blue Salad- just to name a few. Signature cocktails will include a Strawberry Mint Margarita, and a Blue Moon Strawberry Shandy. Patio opens at 4pm, DJ Trivia at 8pm, and music starts at 10pm. Even dress to honor the Full Moon and win a prize. So let’s get together and honor the full moon with great friends, food, music, and some lunar lunacy of our own!
Check out our Full Moon Party Invitation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/351469261727986/
And we will keep you posted on the Full Moon Parties to come….
Cioppino is a tomato based, fish stew created by immigrant fishermen from Genoa Northern Italy, who came to the U.S. and settled in San Francisco. Food Historians (yes, there is such a job and I think I want it) can’t seem to pin point when Cioppino first arrived on the scene. There are conflicting records sighting the first appearance of this dish during as far back as the Gold Rush days of the late 1840’s, to as recently as the 1930’s. Regardless of when it was introduced to the US, the stew was most likely created on an actual fishing boat using whatever leftovers of the assorted daily catch there were, and any staples that were on hand (traditionally some canned tomatoes, wine, vegetables and bread.) This concoction would make a filling meal for the crew. The name most likely came from the word ciuppin, which means: “chopped” or “to chop” in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa. The word describes the process of chopping many different ingredients into the pot. Eventually Cioppino made it off the boats and into the restaurants in the San Francisco bay area.
Now for the hard part, how do you pronounce it? Being of strong Italian heritage, one may assume I have some sort of Italian linguistic advantage, but my dear departed Italian immigrant grandparents would be very disappointed in my lack of natural ability to pronounce anything in their native tongue. Cioppino is one of my favorite dishes on the menu at Dug’s Dive, but for some reason it’s nearly impossible for me to remember how to say it. I look at the word and my mind says Chee-oh-peen-o every time. The correct pronunciation however is Cho-PEE-no, but for anyone not willing to risk it, ordering the “Fish Stew,” or even just opening up your menu, pointing to it, and saying, “I’ll have that!” works just as well. The Cioppino The Dive serves is chock full of seafood. We make it with fresh haddock, shrimp, mussels, and little neck clams all sautéed in a tomato, fennel, and garlic-based broth served over tender diced potatoes. (Oh, and naturally there’s a little wine in there too) This hearty and flavorful stew is served with crispy, buttery garlic toast points and corn on the cob. The fennel really gives this dish a uniquely light sweet flavor. It brings the broth to a whole new level. Believe me, once you finish with all that succulent seafood, you will be using those garlic toast points to soak up every bit of that delicious broth. You may have to even share with your jealous dining companion, but make sure they get their own bread.
Before talking about eggs Chesapeake, one has to know how it’s forefather, Eggs Benedict, came about. Eggs Benedict is an American brunch staple that consists of a poached egg and ham and set atop an open English muffin and finished with hollandaise sauce. But where did this decadent dish come from? As in most culinary lore, there are conflicting origins stories, but let’s stick with the most popular and colorful account. The story goes that in 1894 Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker and legendary booze hound wandered into the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC in search of a cure for his latest hangover. He ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of Hollandaise.” (Can we please bring back “hooker” as slang for “slug” or “gulp” of alcohol? Thanks.) The famed maître d’hotel of the Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky, saw the promise of this combination and put it on the hotel’s breakfast and brunch menu, substituting ham for the bacon and an English Muffin for the toast.
One thing that makes Eggs Benedict such a favorite dish is the amount of variations that it has spawned. Just as “Oscar of the Waldorf” changed out the bacon for ham, people have been tweaking the layers of this dish for years-Eggs Florentine, Eggs Royale, Huevos Benedict, Eggs Commander’s…the list goes on and on. Egg’s Chesapeake is the way we roll at the Lake Effect Diner. In this version, we substitute our very own Dug’s Dive Crab Cakes for the ham. To kick it up a notch even further we also trade out the basic English Muffin for buttered griddled slices of our house made baguette. So let’s review- perfectly medium poached eggs, over our meaty crab cakes, on top of toasty baguette slices. All topped with our scratch made Hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of paprika. If you have never had hollandaise sauce, it’s a savory, warm, rich, and buttery cream sauce with a mild lemony tang. Everything about this dish screams culinary indulgence. Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough food for you, it is also served with a side of crispy browned Home Fries. So whether you’re like Lemuel Benedict and need a cure for a night of bad decisions or if you just have a hankering for some soul satisfying breakfast/brunch food, the Eggs Chesapeake at the Lake Effect is the call. Just make sure to pencil in a nice nap after to complete the whole experience.
As far as regional foods go, the Fish Fry is no doubt a Buffalo fan favorite. The origin of this dish can be traced back to 19th century England. Called Fish and Chips across the pond, it was a London working mans’ staple meal long before it swam it’s way to our shores. Of course that doesn’t mean we didn’t tweak and improve on this culinary import (For example why offer just fries or “chips”? This is America-home of multiple choices!) In the North Eastern and some Mid Western states it is called a Fish Fry, where typically any where else in this country it is just referred to as Fried Fish. Like the Brits, our fish of choice is either Cod or Haddock-both meaty, flakey, white fish that fry up well. Pike was a popular choice on the shores of Lake Erie for a while, but the demand overran the supply so the more plentiful ocean fish are delivered to our neck of the woods frequently and in high volume. The popularity of the Fish Fry in Buffalo peaks during Fridays in Lent, but no matter what the time of the year here, it is always in high demand.
A Dug’s Dive House Specialty is Fresh Haddock. Here we serve it in a variety of ways: Italian, Lemon Butter, Cajun, Budweiser Beer Battered, and the ultimate indulgence: Potato Crusted- which is Dug’s original spin on Fish and Chips. At the Dive we came up with a way to make this Buffalo Favorite even better. The generous portion of haddock is not only deep fried in our own Budweiser Beer batter, but we also give it a potato chip crust- hello crunch. It is then drizzled with a cool cucumber dill sauce and served with creamy coleslaw, corn on the cob, and a choice of a side. There are quite a few side choices: Dive Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings, Badass Bean Salad, Garlic Toast Points…you get the idea, but if you want something a little different try the Grilled Potato Salad- Potatoes grilled with garlic, bacon, scallions, sour cream, vinegar, and cheddar cheese. A cheesy baked potato salad if you will- and I would! Wash it down with a cold one while watching the sun set over the lake and that is Buffalo perfection right there.
In all honesty, if you had told me years ago that a place named The Steer would someday be a great place to grab a bite for non-meat eaters, I would have thrown you a side eye and given you a pat on the head before dismissing you as most likely nuts. The Steer’s name in and of itself means BEEF for Christmas sake. Well, times they have a changed. As some of you may have already heard (not herd, but that would be a great pun) we now offer some great options for plant-based diners with our Vegetarian Menu. Many items are not only Vegetarian but Vegan, using no animal product whatsoever. Carnivores and herbivores eating out happily together? What’s next? Dogs and cats living together-mass hysteria! Well, ok-let’s not get too dramatic here, but yes it’s true-we want to serve quality options to ALL our customers. We strive to make Vegetarian and Vegan dishes that both meat lovers and veggie lovers could enjoy, because one shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste no matter what one’s dietary preferences are.
So as someone who just loves good food, but has not given up meat, fish, or dairy, I consider myself a tough critic. I love a good real crab cake; one made with tender lump crabmeat, not a lot of filler, and not deep-fried, Can this flavor profile be replicated without using any animal product and still be just as delicious? The Crabless Cakes at The Steer is 100% Vegan and fits the bill. They are made with hearts of palm, shallots, red onion, red bell pepper, toasted nori, seasonings, and our house made Vegenaise (eggless mayo). Once formed into patties, they are dredged in panko, pan seared, and finished with a side of Lemon Caper Aioli. The success in this dish, in my opinion, comes down to two very important ingredients. First is the hearts of palm, which have a similar flavor profile to artichoke hearts, and a very similar texture to crabmeat when shredded. The second key component is the toasted nori (sheets of dried seaweed used in making sushi). It gives the diner the perfect taste of the ocean. The cakes are savory, tender, and meaty- without actual meat, and the Lemon Caper Aioli Sauce is a perfect tangy compliment. So rejoice Veggie Lovers, but good luck fending off your steak-loving companion who will no doubt be going in for a bite.
Spring has finally sprung, and summertime is just around the corner. After a cold, snowy, and looong Buffalo winter this means that when the outside temperature hits 60 degrees, to us, it may as well be a blistering summer day. Break out those shorts and tank tops Buffalo, let’s shed some layers and take our pasty selves to the parks or waterfront to soak up those blistering rays and get a good dose of vitamin D.
Besides becoming reacquainted with our long lost pal the sun, another thing to look forward to in the springtime is the opening of Dug’s Dive at the Outer Harbor-A casual dining atmosphere overlooking the Small Boat Harbor. Watch the water, while enjoying a nice cool beverage and a bite to eat. Listening to the seagulls squawk, the boats go by, and the water lapping at the dock- even a Long Islander like me can forget that I’m on a lake and not actually at some seaside joint somewhere on the Eastern Coast. This is especially true when I kick back at Dug’s to enjoy a Lobster Dawg. I love a good Lobster Roll, and it’s hard to come by one here in Western New York. The Dive's Lobster Dawg is served on a New England Style Roll (the way it should be) which is griddled on the outside and then split down the middle and stuffed with our Maine Lobster Salad made with fresh dill and topped with real ground bacon bits- which are made from our own house cured E.A.T. Market Bacon. Talk about taking it up a notch- bacon AND lobster? Yes, please! I look forward to ordering one every chance I get during the spring and summer season at Dug's Dive. All that's missing for me is the salty ocean air - oh, and I have to choose between ordering a side of the Shoestring Fries or the Sweet Potato Fries served with honey butter…. decisions, decisions….
Who’s in the mood for some Falafel? That’s probably a sentence you don’t hear very often living in the good ol’ U.S. of A. For those of you who have never tried Falafel, it is a popular type of Middle Eastern street food. It is made from either ground fava beans or chickpeas, which are seasoned with a variety of spices, formed into a ball or patty, and deep-fried to a golden brown. The patty or ball is then traditionally served in a flatbread, and topped with pickled veggies, salads, hot sauces, or drizzled with a Tahini based sauce. It’s so popular that McDonald’s even marketed a McFalafel at one point in time. (Of course they did) The Falafel’s origins can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt where it was originally made with fava beans. This meat alternative eventually made its way north to Israel and Palestine. Here the fava beans were replaced by chickpeas. This wound up becoming the more widespread version. A good Falafel should be brown and crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and have a nice subtle spice.
Maybe the Lake Effect Diner is not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re hankering to try some good Falafel, but it should be. When the idea of adding this delicious new twist to our regular menu came up, we knew we had to put some serious thought into it and develop our own recipe. We discovered you can’t just use canned chickpeas, but rather you have to do it right by soaking raw chickpeas overnight to rehydrate them properly and then grind them up to form the patties. This process results in a tender patty that holds together, instead of a dried out mess that breaks up as soon as you take a bite. We use a unique blend of Middle Eastern spices, which deliver the perfect little taste kick at the end. At the Diner we offer two ways to enjoy this labor of love. One way is as our Falafel Wrap Sandwich. We wrap the patties in a large soft tortilla with our house made hummus and Tzatziki (don’t even get me started on our hummus and Tzatziki recipes-spot on yum), sliced Spanish onion, tomato, and lettuce, and serve it with fresh cut fries. Another option is to order our Falafel Salad. Crispy Falafel Patties served atop our garden salad, with our hummus and Tzatziki, and warm Father Sam’s Pita. I love to take those pita pieces and basically build my own Falafel sandwich, stuffing them to the brink with everything I can fit in there. Oh, and I usually ask for a side of feta- but really, there’s no wrong way to Falafel.
Brunch: the marrying of breakfast and lunch. A brilliant idea, if you ask me. According to food legend an English writer named Guy Beringer first proposed this dual meal in an 1895 essay “Brunch: A Plea”. In his essay he wrote that a Sunday brunch was the perfect cure for those feeling a bit ill after a little too much Saturday night carousing. A hybrid late morning to mid-day meal that started light, and then eased the woozy diner into more substantial fare. Of course, the leisurely meal included a bit of the hair-of-the-dog cure: Cue the boozy mixes. If ever there was to be named the Patron Saint Of The Hangover- this was the Guy. (See what I did there?) It took us Americans about 30 years to catch on to this genius idea- but once we did, we took it, ran with it, and, of course, made it our own.
Most restaurants serve brunch traditionally on a Sunday; But why neglect Saturday? At The Steer, brunch is served Saturday AND Sunday from 11am-4pm, and of course, features bottomless Mimosas. Brunch menu offerings range from the traditional brunch items such as the French Toast Stack, Eggs Benedict, or Steak and Eggs to some more original items; The Eggs Florentine, Quinoa Granola, or Chilaquiles.
What’s a Chilaquiles you ask? So glad you did! Pronounced tchee/lah/kee/lehs, traditionally this is a Mexican dish of fried tortillas, simmered in green or red salsa, and served with chicken, eggs, cheese, or beans. At The Steer we do a variation of this by taking our corn tortilla chips (which are cut and fried in house) and loading these up with melted cheddar cheese, shredded smoked chicken, beans, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, and two poached eggs. Voilà! Breakfast Nachos. Now, I know some of you out there may be like me and hear the word “poached egg” and think “Ew”. I am not a fan of any kind of runny egg dish, but I am always game to give things a try. Somehow this works so well together that I can’t wait to break into those huevos and mix it all up. It’s also such a generous portion- perfect to share while enjoying some Bottomless Mimosas, or with my personal favorite: a good Bloody Mary. The ideal lazy weekend mid day meal, hopefully followed by a great afternoon nap. Thanks, Guy Beringer- you were a true visionary.
Now, with Easter Sunday and Mother’s day on the horizon, you have a couple of good excuses to indulge in this decadent Sunday tradition- but then again, who needs an excuse? Saturday or Sunday? I’m in.
It’s the simple things in life that can really make person happy. For me, one of these basic pleasures is a great, tender and juicy hamburger. While The Steer has a great Beef Burger, sometimes I want something a little different and lighter- that’s when the Chicken Burger calls my name. The Chicken Burger at The Steer is one of our 3 types of Badass Burgers (Beef, Chicken, And Veggie). The poultry we use is locally sourced and the thigh and breast meat is ground and shaped into patties at our own processing plant: E.A.T. Market, down at the Clinton and Bailey Market. It then makes the short trip to The Steer, where it is cooked to order and served on a fresh house made griddled Kaiser roll with a side of fresh cut fries.
Now all that would be good enough for me, but being one of our Badass Burgers, you could order it one of 14
ways, from “Classic” to the "Elvis” (long live the King!).
Personally, I am partial to the “Napa Valley”. This Burger is topped with warm griddled goat cheese, tomato, and baby basil. Oh! Cheese, glorious cheese! We are talking about a medallion of fresh goat cheese, browned just right on the hot griddle on both sides so that it still maintains its shape, but achieves a golden brown fried and slightly crispy crust on the outside. The inside is warm, creamy, and spreadable. It just blankets that chicken patty as you squeeze down the sandwich in preparation to taking your first juicy bite.
Another way to order the Chicken Burger (or any of our burgers) is Topless. Now, please-eyes up here! I am talking about a burger without the bun (however, you can always take it home and eat it in whatever state of undress that suits you…) Order the Topless Burger option at The Steer, you can still choose from one of our many burger toppings. It is then served, atop of a large House Salad with your choice of dressing. Of course, if you go topless “Napa Valley”-may I suggest our balsamic. It’s the perfect tangy compliment to the savory griddled goat cheese. It’s a very satisfying way to enjoy one of our Badass Burgers in a bit more health conscious way, if you're into that sort of thing.
Me? Right now, that fresh baked, griddled, warm, and crispy Kaiser roll is calling my name. I will keep my top on, for now- after all warm weather season is just around the corner. (Isn’t it??)