Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scotch N Sirloin Restaurant in Amherst, NY

"My favorite animal is steak." - Fran Lebowitz

Tonight Trudi and I had dinner at an upstate NY steak house, located 20 miles from Niagara Falls.

We visited the Falls this afternoon. It was so romantical! The Canadian side is better because 1) the view from North of the border is more impressive, and 2) Canadians beat Americans hands down in the niceness category. Even their Customs officials were more pleasant.

On the way back to our hotel, we developed a craving for steak. Not being familiar with this area - and having no one to ask - we queried my Garmin C340 GPS Unit for a decent carnivore cafe. Jill - my pet name for this device - suggested Scotch N Sirloin in Amherst, NY. Jill is quite knowledgeable (and has a very sexy voice) so I decided to trust her judgment. We were not disappointed.

After being seated, we were promptly greeted by Denise, our waitress. We liked her instantly. She displayed a genuine smile - a rare commodity in NYC bistros. And her enthusiasm for making our meal enjoyable was immediately apparent. She made us feel welcome.

Good food is of course the major component in any dining experience. A top quality steak should excel in the following areas:

Aging - tenderizes the meat.

Seasoning - brings out the beef's natural flavor.

Cut - if done properly, assures consistency in both flavor and texture. A Porterhouse should always taste like a porterhouse, not a NY strip or a flank steak.

Degree of Cooking - If you ask for a steak that is medium rare, then that is how it should be prepared. No excuses.

Scotch N Sirloin excelled in all of these areas. Trudi said that her filet mignon was one of the best ever. I sampled hers and agreed. My top sirloin was also exceptional.

To accompany our meal, Denise suggested a wine that was a wonderful discovery - an Acacia 2005 Pinot Noir. While many pinots are lighter in bouquet and body, this vintage came closer to a cabernet or shiraz. It had hints of strawberry and peach, with an exceptionally long finish. A perfect compliment to a good steak.

We asked Denise about the history of Scotch N Sirloin. She indicated that it used to be part of a small chain of upstate NY steak houses. The first one opened in 1969. Subsequently they have been sold to individual owners. Many of the new proprietors are former employees who worked their way up from dishwasher or bus boy. So these people have an emotional and experiential investment in their establishments. This deeper commitment was evident in the restaurant's operation. You could tell that the employees were genuinely motivated to provide good service.

Denise also mentioned that Scotch N Sirloin's fireplace lounge was a favorite hangout for locals during the long Buffalo winters. There is nothing like a wood fire to warm you up on a cold night. An old saying among upstaters is - "What day is summer this year?" Winters feel like they are endless, so a warm comfortable nest - with good food - is highly prized by area residents.

Summary: If you find yourself in the Buffalo, NY area and you enjoy a good steak, then I highly recommend Scotch N Sirloin.

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