LOCKPORT – “Disappointed” seems such a harsh word that I hate to use it as a reaction to a restaurant meal. There are so many other things in this world that are truly disappointing – Congress’ inability to do anything of substance, for instance; humankind’s inability to simply be human – that it just doesn’t seem appropriate to label a meal as such.
Suffice to say, then, that our recent visit to Danny Sheehan’s Steakhouse was ... underwhelming.
Maybe we had allowed our hopes to build to an unreasonable, even unattainable level; perhaps we just dropped in on the wrong day. Whatever the reason, the place with the impeccable reputation for exceeding expectations simply did not.
We’re not talking total disillusionment at all, and not everyone in our group even felt that way. But the majority did, and the majority rules, so “underwhelmed” is the verb of choice for this particular episode.
Visually, Danny Sheehan’s is a throwback to a simpler time, with its ’70s-style swag lamps, dark wood paneling and low ceilings.
The comments on social media seems to confirm that most folks thoroughly enjoy their visits. That’s why ours seemed so out of character.
Granted, the steak was excellent. Maybe we should have stuck with the specialty of the house. But it was a birthday celebration and we were in the mood for experimentation, so we sampled a wide portion of the menu. Unfortunately, few of the items lived up to the steak.
Uncle Shakey’s World Famous Steak and Mushroom Pie, for instance, did not live up to its name. My daughter was expecting more of a “pot pie” type of arrangement, but was served more of a “shepherd’s pie.”
That’s still not a deal-breaker, but at $16.95 you’re expecting a certain something, and that something is not tough, chewy “stew” meat – but that’s exactly what the first few bites seemed like. . The steak didn’t seem especially well-seasoned, either. In its defense, the dish offered gobs of crusted mashed potatoes on top, and tons of mushrooms in a very tasty gravy. The meat did get better as you went along, and there was more than enough to take home a whole meal’s worth.
But “world famous?” I don’t think so.
Speaking of which, two of us started our meals with the au gratin potatoes, and both were extremely disapp ... oops, “underwhelming.” Had I known that the cheese used was smoked gouda, I wouldn’t have even ordered it, but the fact was not specified on the menu. Nick was unhappy that the potatoes were cut into chunks, rather than thin slices. That may have had a hand in the poor flavor distribution.
Before that, we had sampled some soups, and were extremely pleased with both. The asparagus soup featured a thin, creamy base and lots of veggie chunks. The asparagus flavor came through loud and clear. The French onion was served in a very beefy broth with excellent body and flavor. Two big thumbs up for each.
The corn fritters appetizer ($5, actually listed as a “side dish”) was more like hush puppies than anything else. They were heavy on the batter, and one of them in our order had not been cooked sufficiently. Meagan was dissatisfied not only with the texture, but also the flavor.
Our main courses included a full rack of baby back ribs ($20.95), the eight-ounce filet mignon ($23.95), the closed tenderloin sandwich ($16.95) and the broiled seafood platter ($25.95). Again, at those prices you are expecting a certain level of satisfaction. The filet certainly delivered; the seafood did not. The ribs were so-so, as was the sandwich.
The salads were good, fresh, and the house Italian dressing – a sweet-and-sour concoction – was awesome, we all agreed. The mashed potatoes were very good, the French fries, not so much. The mashed were creamy but still substantial; the gravy a little flimsy, but still OK. The fries were very doughy, and undercooked.
The filet – the highlight of the evening, by far – was simply “amazing,” my wife said. “I enjoyed every bite – no fat whatsoever.” The tenderloin sandwich, on the other hand, was dubbed “’kay.”
“It was nice and tender,” served on toasted bread, Nick commented, “but there was no dressing, no seasoning. It would have been better with some steak sauce” slathered on, he said.
I had been hankering for a lobster tail, and was sold upon seeing the platter that included fish, shrimp, scallops and a four-ounce tail. I was a little disapp ... “let down” to see that it was served only with a container of drawn butter. A little tartar, or even some cocktail sauce, would have been nice, but were nowhere to be found. Yeah, it was broiled, not fried, but I still like a little sauce with mine.
The scallops didn’t thrill me, for whatever reason, but the fish was even more displeasing. I had hoped for a small piece of haddock, but instead got a slim filet of tilapia. I’m not a big tilapia fan, and this clinched it. The first bite was very “fishy” tasting and completely lacking flavor, so much so that I offered the rest of it to my daughter. She took one bite and gave it back, agreeing about the “fishy” evaluation. I finished it by dipping each bite into the butter, which helped it out to a degree.
The shrimp were good (but could have benefited from cocktail sauce!) and the tail was all right – not the best I’ve ever had, not the worst.
That’s about how Meagan felt about her ribs, as well. “Meh” was her official reaction. “They certainly aren’t fall-off-the-bone,” she said, “and the sauce ... ” There wasn’t enough of it, she said, and what was there lacked any real kick.
To top things off we all split a piece of cheesecake topped with strawberries, and it was simply out-of-this-world good. A good way to cap the evening, but perhaps not enough to salvage things for some in our party.
A wandering magician entertained in the dining room, but never made it to our table. Talk about a throwback ...
Maybe we just picked a bad time. I’d have to give Danny Sheehan’s another shot before I ever wrote it off, but we’ll have to choose the occasion carefully.