The Boss Facts
1735 Hertel Ave Buffalo / (716) 551-6499
Price: $$$ / Cuisine: Steakhouse, Seafood, American
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Buffalo’s Original Steak & Seafood, a.k.a BOSS, is the former Fiamma Steak at the corner of Hertel and Starin. They made the switch a little over a year ago with a new menu, decor and staff. The atmosphere is casual yet well-groomed. The attire ranges from a coat and tie to jeans and a shirt. BOSS is a neighborhood steakhouse with a personality that seems to reflect the area – diverse, hard working and a rough edge here and there. It’s nice to see in a world of cookie cutter chains and trend- conscious restaurants.
I liked BOSS because the steak was good, and the service friendly and efficient, but most of all I liked BOSS because everyone in the joint seemed like they were trying hard to earn our business. While it might not be the most posh steak joint in town it has a personality all its own. The longer I sat there the better I liked it. If I had to guess, and I do, I’d say BOSS may be starting to fire on all cylinders after an extended metamorphosis.
The valet service is a nice touch and necessary in this location. Opening the door and being meet by a smiling, young hostess – priceless. The bar area is on the left as you enter, cozy but not cramped, and nicely separated from two dining areas. We were seated immediately in the downstairs atrium, cold and snow-covered this past winter, but bright and inviting now. The cream-hued space is set off with rust colored fabric. A glowing BOSS wall sign seems oddly in place with a decor that hints of modern. They also have dining and a private room upstairs.
We started with a drink before dinner as we perused the menu. I went with a Southern Tier IPA by the bottle. BOSS offers a decent selection of roughly a dozen bottled beers. Nothing on draft. My companion opted for The Orange Drop – Soli OrangeCaravella – orangecella, sugar in the raw, lemon juice, shaken and served. Loved it! “One of the best cocktails this year” was the comment.
Our attentive server explained the menu and specials quite well. His helper brought out a bread plate gratis. The bread itself was a pleasant combination of rosemary stick and sesame seed bun, displayed in a somewhat disquieting fashion.
For appetizers we indulged in the Endive Salad Belgian with crispy potato, apple, pancetta, Dijon vinaigrette & poached egg ($10), and the Gnocchetti with wild boar & burrata $12. Both dishes were stellar.
The boar/burrata gnocchetti is so good I’d recommend ordering a triple and eating it as your main course (the bowl is huge). I don’t care if it is a steakhouse. Burrata means “buttery” in Italian. The outer shell is usually solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual creamy awesomeness. Set that over a hearty wild boar ragu and you won’t care what delivery vehicle is underneath. Brilliant in a simple but great way. Why isn’t this the first thing on every Italian menu from here to Rome?
The Endive salad was a hearty take on the usual light app. Endive leaves stuffed with apple, crisp pancetta, lightly dressed with Dijon vinaigrette covered with potato crisps served with a poached egg on top. There is a lot going on in this dish, perhaps too much but for the fact that this is a steakhouse, where too much is not only acceptable, it’s the American way. I loved the dish, but I think the shell it was served on may have been part of a practical joke. I didn’t spot any of the wait staff laughing, but the sight of me trying to keep the food off my lap must have been hilarious. I even tried eating it like a taco with my hands. Needless to say that didn’t go well. Order the salad but super size the plate.
For our main:
Scallops – Sea Scallops with cauliflower puree, romesco, & truffled arugula, $20.15. This was a restaurant week special so size and price may vary. The scallops were large, meaty and fresh. The cauliflower puree a nice accompaniment. I prefer my scallops with a nice char, but these were good.
Spinalis Rib Cap 10 oz. $45. The Spinalis rib cap is the well marbled outer edge of the rib eye steak. It’s a cool idea. The outside edge is my favorite part of the cut. When you get just a standard rib eye cut the outside (spinalis) portion is often more well-done than the inside, and it’s difficult if not impossible to get them both to your liking. Happily, this came out cooked to perfection, and at $45 perfection is exactly what you should get. I subscribe to the reality that fat equals flavor as does charred protein. This was a heavenly portion of both with a little seasoning to boot, perhaps unnecessary but good. The cut was tender like a filet, but with the flavor of a rib eye.
They also had a Wagyu Chuck tail steak on the LRW menu that sounded interesting. They run it as a special occasionally. Might be worth a revisit.
For a side I went with the Parmigiano Hash Brown with an egg on top (yes – I like eggs). This was very enjoyable. Crispy potato egg oozing over the top – a winner every time. They offer some good looking side options (Yukon Gold Potato Puree; Hand Cut Fries; Brussels sprouts, pancetta, shallot, balsamic; Mushrooms, cipollini onions, red wine etc). This might be the first steak house I’ve ever been to that didn’t offer a baked potato.
Wine – Key to a good steak house is the wine list. They offer roughly 15 each white and red, 5-6 by the glass. The selections are nothing to write home about, but they offer some good options. The list doesn’t include the vintage (year) which is a little disconcerting. We went with a 2012 Sterling Napa Cab that was very nice – $42.
For dessert we selected a Blueberry Tart with house-made Lemon Thyme Ice Cream and cream. $10. This was outstanding and a kudos to the kitchen for making their own ice cream – that screams “we care”.
I know that steakhouse fare is generally not the most complex, but I’d say this food, and presumably Chef Vincent Thompson, show some real talent.
Options that will bring us back:
- Agnolotti of Chestnut with brown butter cream & parmigiano foam $13
- Chilled Maine Lobster with celery root puree, green apple, pistachio & preserved lemon $19
- Crab Cakes with fennel cream, remoulade, & apple/fennel/mustard seed slaw $15
- Lamb Ribeye with barley, hen of the woods mushrooms, dried cherries, black garlic & lamb jus $39
- Venison Loin with Foie Gras, shitaki, potato puree, plums & red wine $39
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