It's brand new -- only about a month old, in fact -- and already the Saffire Grill, housed in a small, free-standing structure on Main Street in Clarence, seems to be doing quite well.
Either that, or this family-owned restaurant has yet to catch on to the intricacies of stocking the kitchen. At least two of the items listed on the menu were out on the evening of our visit.
Maybe we were just unlucky, but it was sad because we had our taste buds all lined up for an evening special, Braised Lamb Shank served with Red Lentil Stew ($25). The menu listed Eastern Shore Styled crab cakes, too (as an appetizer, $10; as a main dish with two sides, $24). But the cakes had swum away.
Luckily, there were plenty of other items to choose from. The restaurant menu announces that the place specializes in American Cuisine, which gives it plenty of room to experiment a bit. There is plenty of seafood and fresh fish here.
The char-grilled Spiced Rubbed Shrimp appetizer ($9) was tasty if not exciting, buoyed up a lot by the Pineapple Corn Relish that came with it. Hawaiian Sea Scallops were a tad more interesting -- caramelized dayboat scallops were tossed in a subtly sweet barbecue sauce and served over greens ($9).
Next, we opted for another evening special, Asiago Roasted Grouper ($24), and this was one big hunk of fish, let me tell you. It was served in a red wine sauce, but the cheese crust made the dish seem a little too heavy overall.
Another special added drama to the presentation. The Saffire Grill Trio was a carefully arranged platter of three tender lamb chops, a beef tenderloin kabob and a cute little red ramekin that contained what was described as a miniature Veal Osso Buco.
Think about three-quarters of a cup worth of veal shanks in a tomato wine sauce -- and also think terrific. It was probably the best thing we had to eat all night.
Another impressive presentation at Saffire comes out for dessert, the Chocolate Fantasy. Pretty well named, this. Let's see now: There's mousse in a little pastry cup; there's rich chocolate ice cream; and there's a great big piece of flourless chocolate cake.
Another good dessert was the apple pastry with cinnamon ice cream. Nice apple flavor, slightly tart.
Among the printed menu items, note the house specialties: Vienna Pork Schnitzel ($18), Stuffed Chicken Breast, Eggplant Ravioli and Roast Duck with Fig Sauce ($24). There are steaks, and there are chops galore.
A nice touch is that you may pick your own side dishes to go with any of these; spinach, herbed spaetzle or mac and cheese are on the list.
And with seafood items like the Nova Scotia Salmon ($18) or the Line-Caught Tuna ($22), you get a choice of six sauces including Black Peppercorn, Cabernet, something called Scampi or White Wine Butter.
3 stars (out of 4)
WHERE: 9780 Main St., Clarence (759-7980). Specializing in "American Cuisine," the restaurant offers a wide selection of seafood and stick-to-the-ribs entrees. Credit Cards: American Express, Master Card, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: Osso Buco
NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.
PRICE RANGE: Entrees from $16 include sides. (Most entrees are $20 and up.)
SERVICE: Very good
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
HOURS: Dinner, 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
HEALTHY CHOICES: Fresh Line-Caught Tuna, Stuffed Chicken Ravioli, Stuffed Chicken Breast.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: In the lot.
KID APPEAL: It's an adult restaurant.