By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily
Maybe before I regale you with tales of this week’s culinary destination, I should tell you a little about myself, because the two stories go together like a steak and baked potato.
I was raised the son of a man who was a real butcher. By that I mean he worked as a butcher and owned his own butcher shop back in Florida. My dad was a butcher for 40 years, and trained me from the time I was about 12 and I was a butcher for 20 years myself. So I guess I was raised knowing which end of a steer to chew on, so to speak.
A steakhouse for me never made much sense. Why get a steak at a restaurant when I can reach in the showcase and pick the best there is? And yes, I know how to cook it, too.
But now that I live in Wyoming and poke at a keyboard for a living, I don’t have that luxury. That doesn’t mean I go without a good piece of steak. It’s just that now I don’t mind handing over the grill to someone else.
That’s where this week’s Plate O’ Goodness comes in.
Buffalo’s premier steakhouse for years, according to many, was the Winchester Steakhouse. It was popular year-round, but had recently fallen off of people’s radars.
Enter Dan and Deb Buckley, who purchased the Winchester in December and set about rebranding it as The Cattleguard Steakhouse & Saloon.
“This place just needed to be brought back to life,” Dan Buckley told me. “I want this to be the premier steakhouse in Johnson County, and hopefully beyond.”
Entering the Cattleguard, the first thing you see is a beautiful free-standing fireplace which on this night was lit with a roaring fire. On the dining room side of the fireplace is a spacious dining area that Dan says he has plans for.
The menu is pure steakhouse cuisine, but there are other items as well. Baked halibut, bacon-wrapped sea scallops and even fresh salmon can be found, as well as desserts.
Soon there will be more to choose from, Dan said.
“We have lots of plans for The Cattleguard,” he said. “We’ll soon be adding barbecue.”
Dan says that out back there will be a big smoker grill, churning out ribs, brisket and pork butts along with other smokey fare. Since I have a friend in Buffalo, expect to hear about the barbecue sometime in the future.
Tonight however, I’m here for the aforementioned steak!
As with a lot of steak houses, the focus is on the beef. The beef in this case is choice grade Angus.
“I wont stand for less,” Dan said. “Twenty-seven day hang for aging. It’s well aged and fresh cut every night.”
There are plenty of cuts to choose from. Prime rib with au jus of course, New York strip steak, and a whopping 30-OUNCE porterhouse steak among others. Can you say “Bring your appetite?”
Tonight I would order my favorite steak, the 16-ounce char-grilled ribeye served with fresh mushrooms and cauliflower gratin. Across from me, my friend will be dining on the popular Winchester steak, a Delmonico topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese. Next to me will be the classic 14-ounce bacon-wrapped fillet minion.
Before the steaks arrive, we had our salads, which were lovely and fresh, along with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes.
These were made extra fancy for this Florida boy, with a topping crab meat and drizzled with a balsamic vinegar. This was a rare treat for me and I was surprised how well the crab meat paired with this southern favorite. I could have made a meal out of this side dish alone.
My filet-ordering friend chose the French onion soup as her appetizer, and on top, it was overflowing with toasted Swiss cheese. It was a perfect spoonful of sweet onions in every bite.
Oh look! Here come the steaks! I almost stood up and saluted!
The smell of the grill was the first thing to reach me. First the ribeye. I ordered my steak medium rare, and this one was prepared just that way. It had to be, because there was a little certified Angus beef tag in it that said “Med Rare” on the back. No guessing here.
Next on the table was the Winchester. I wasn’t sure if I had made a mistake with the ribeye, because this steak looked amazing! The toppings protected another perfectly prepared medium rare steak.
Last but not least, was the filet. This one needed a standing ovation! Fourteen ounces of all-American, tender, juicy beef here!
Now I’ll cut to the chase, or in this case, the steaks, which were one great bite after another. No need for steak sauce here. You wouldn’t want to cover this up. I mean unless it was with those mushroom, onions and Swiss cheese.
The char on the steak was as it should be, and the flavor divine. There were lots of happy forks all around and the knives did very little work freeing each tender bite. I’m glad I let the grill master do all this work this time.
So if you are looking for someone else to take over the grill for the night and serve you instead, consider The Cattleguard Steakhouse & Saloon in Buffalo. This restaurant is well on it’s way to being the premier steakhouse that owners Dan and Deb Buckley want it to be!
The Cattleguard Steakhouse & Saloon is located at 117 U.S. Highway. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant can be reached at (307) 259-2171.