Sear, the restaurant opening in the Avant building in two weeks, aims to offer Buffalo a better steakhouse.
It shares a building with an Embassy Suites, but the space at 200 Delaware Ave. has been redesigned to remove all hints of hotel lobby. Instead, a 100-seat dining room offers booths and spacious tables under a twinkling crystal sky.
A curving 22-seat bar offers booths and offers a television hidden from the dining room. The bar is open, but food won’t be available to the public until the restaurant staff finishes final touches and sharpens their teamwork. The official opening is 11 a.m. Nov. 17.
A screen descends from the ceiling to cordon off a semi-private space at the north end of the dining room for small group events. There’s also a 12-seat chef’s table secluded behind sliding glass doors.
Executive chef J.T. Nicholson and managing partner David Schutte shaped the menu after a nationwide tour of modern steakhouses that included stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. “You’ll see familiar things – a steakhouse has to have lobster bisque,” Schutte said. There’s also minor forays afield, with a kale salad adorned with almond granola ($10) and small plates like Thai shrimp and noodle salad ($16) on the lunch menu.
The complimentary bread service is Parker House rolls topped with rosemary butter and salsa verde for dipping.
The roasted beet salad ($12) is ubiquitous, but at Sear there’s St. Germain elderflower liqueur in the underlying beet puree adding a floral note, and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs whose bitter crunch cuts against the beet sweetness. Nicholson said the kitchen is using hydroponic greens grown in Alleghany County.
The requisite pork belly ($16), offered on the dinner menu, is braised in cider and joined by pea puree, caramelized fennel, apple butter, and apple chips.
Carpaccio of Wagyu beef is joined by black garlic aioli, black garlic crisps, pickled cippolini onions and shaved cured yolk.
The beef entry points start with sliders ($12), nine ounces of beef in total, made from the same blend of chuck, brisket and short rib as Sear’s full-size burgers, Nicholson said. Brioche buns soak up juice from the mini-burgers, topped with housemade pickles. A 10-ounce cheeseburger ($13) and steak frites ($22) anchor the economy end of the beef scale.
Diners can raise their sights through house prime, Australian Wagyu, and USDA Prime, in regular and dry-aged varieties.
The big play is a 34-ounce long-bone dry-aged USDA Prime ribeye ($95), with Gruyere popovers.
That and its 22-ounce bone-in Kansas City strip brother ($62) are the top steaks in the house, Schutte said. A bite of the remarkably tender, mildly nutty meat underscored its place as a premium experience. Schutte pointed out the bronze crusting on the meat’s surface, achieved through searing and a minimal application of butter. Five steak sauces are available, including shallot bearnaise and brandy peppercorn.
Desserts will include a chocolate cake ($10) with layers of coffee cream, cloaked in luxurious chocolate and toasted hazelnuts.
Sear offers complimentary valet parking. Reservations are available at 319-1090 or through OpenTable.
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