Looking for a steak in Niagara Falls, a group of us decided on Buchanans, based on a recommendation and the decent reviews here. As a group, we have eaten at pretty much every kind of steakhouse you could imagine. My personal opinion of The Keg, for instance, is that it is OK, but you can do much better at the same price point. The key is setting your expectations appropriately. So none of us were expecting a Barberian's or Harbour 60 experience (for those of you from Toronto - Morton's would be a good US analog), a good "independent" experience is what we were thinking when we chose Buchanans.
Our table was universally disappointed. The space itself was nice - the service attentive and friendly. Our dissatisfaction stemmed entirely from the food, which was truly awful. I am a guy who knows a steak, whether I have grilled it myself or have it in a restaurant. At a minimum, a steak at a "better" restaurant should be a certain thickness and have a properly thick crust built up from cooking it. I ordered the 16 oz. porterhouse, and was speechless when it arrived. It looked like something you would see on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in cellophane at your local discount grocery store. Ridiculously thin, it looked (and tasted) like it had been steamed or boiled, except for a couple of pathetic grill marks. No seasoning, no crust. The sides were of the same "quality" - supermarket vegetables seemed to have been chopped, steamed and served with no further thought - tasteless. They have a potato of the day, which was scalloped potatoes - done in a too-thick cheese sauce and not well-executed, although this was the only dish that had any flavour. Not necessarily the flavour you'd want in scalloped potatoes, but I guess we could not be choosy at this point.
It was nearly empty at 7:00 on a beautifully warm Saturday night, which was probably not a good sign. With wine, tax and tip, our table of 8 spent $100 each, which is far, far more than one should pay for food of this quality. That is the most upsetting aspect of this visit to Buchanans - the prices suggested a restaurant on an entirely different level, yet the actual quality was much closer to a $5.00 lunch special short-order place. I am not joking; it was really that bad. It is difficult to understand how diners here could have given it good to very good reviews. If you have certain expectations of a steakhouse, this will disappoint you to no end. Never thought I would be saying that I'd gladly take a Keg or other chain restaurant, but I certainly will in the future.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
October 8, 2013
Thank you for providing us with this detailed account of your experience. We are sorry to learn that we didn't provide the great dining experience you deserved. Your satisfaction if very important to us. You are correct, earlier on a beautiful Saturday it's quieter, we tend to get busy later when folks return from a day of activities at the Falls after sunset. Your server remembers your group fondly and was surprised to learn of your comments and is disappointed she wasn't alterted while on-site to address it and make it right. The 16 oz porerhouse, like any steak is cut by weight not thickness, and lightly seasoned as it is a flavourful cut. I suspect perhaps the steak being medium rare spent less time on the broiler with lighter grill marks as you pointed out. We are circling back to see the presentation first hand. A nice, crispy grill marked steak is a great presentation as you suggest. Separate platters of fresh vegetables and potatoes were prepared for your group and replenished through dinner. That last thing a server checks is what is left on the plate when clearing the table, and again this didn't provide any indication of a problem. Our farm to table approach provides quality local items at a competitive price point in our market place. Again, we apologize for not meeting your expectations and would love the opportunity to win you over as a loyal customer.
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