Salvatore’s Grand Hotel and Russell’s Steak restaurant is kind of a mulligan for Russell Salvatore. Deep into middle age (75 to be precise) he got a chance to take a second swing at creating a premier dining spot and hotel in Western New York. Most people think he made good use of his mulligan, even though he probably didn’t need one.
Our evening at Salvatore’s was arranged through Delta Airlines. Our 3:40 flight to Sarasota was cancelled. Since the flight was cancelled “last minute” and our Jetblue replacement (thanks to Jill at the Jet Blue counter – NOT Delta) was scheduled for 5:45 the next morning, we figured we ‘d take advantage of the Salvatore’s Escape Package- $169 for dinner and overnight stay for two.
Sure Russell’s is noted for their steak, but even more so they’re noted for is Russell. Day in and day out you’ll find Mr. Salvatore dressed to the nines working the host station at the restaurant. The guy is a legend in these parts, and everyone wants to say hello.
We started with some fine cocktails at the hotel bar. It’s a neat spot with huge TVs throughout, but somehow they don’t invade on the elegant setting. First class bar tenders, and ample seating throughout makes for a comfortable stay. The space comes in handy because the place fills up quick with dinners, hotel guests, and locals.
We started with a variety of Matinis. The crowd favorite was a Hendricks Gin and St. Germaine Martini. While enjoying an extended cocktail hour we indulged in some bar food – a couple orders of their Specialty Breads ($9)- one spinach and one sausage; both were good, the sausage was my favorite. We also sampled the Calamari Frito, which was lightly coated and very tender.
The dining area is elegant if not shy with deep red walls, glass chandeliers, dark wood trim and white table cloths. I could live without the fireplace motif on the walls, but it is a beautiful area.
Our dinner started with a hearty bread basket accompanied by three different spreads. From there we went on to salads: House- tender baby greens topped with shaved red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese and your choice of dressing $8; and Caesar- hearts of romaine tossed with garlic croutons, cherry tomatoes shaved parmigiano reggaino cheese $8.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the dinner for two package in the beginning. You know the program – they get your money, and then stick you in the corner with the other cheapos, and give you the “special” menu. Not so at Salvatore’s. They told us up front we could apply our voucher ($78 worth) towards anything on the menu. In this case the dinner for two menu was so good we didn’t have to. Three courses full of great options, and several upgrade possibilities. Nice!
For my entree I ordered the Rack of New Zealand Lamb – pistachio nut crusted with a rosemary glace de veau and mint jelly on the side. It came with some Fingerling Potato Hash and a side of bok choy. The rest of the party of four ordered another rack of Lamb, Shallow Poached Atlantic Salmon- accented with a champagne dill sauce, and a Petite Filet Mignon with one of Russell’s special steak topping. Due to the extended happy hour I’ve forgotten which one. The service was impeccable, and the food cooked to perfection. I enjoyed the fingerling potatoes, but I’m not sure the term hash applies.
Our dinner even came with some beautiful desserts (see photo). Like everything else at Russell’s the wine list is el grande. We enjoyed a bottle(s) of the 2006 St. Emilion, Grand Cru, Château Plaisance, Bordeaux, France ($52)
Russell’s is a great spot for a quick cocktail, an extended evening of drinks, or a diner with family and friends. However, if you have a free night the “Escape Package” is too good to pass up. They have three or four different programs, check them out here.
Open for dinner 7 days
6675 Transit Road, Williamsville NY 14226
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