The Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2800 West 8th Street in Erie. Inside the hotel is Victor’s Restaurant. The restaurant does a lot of business through room service and for events at the hotel. We didn’t have reservations, but there weren’t too many other tables, so we were seated immediately. Amanda and I glanced at the menu online before we arrived, but it differed slightly from the menu we were given at the table. Our server, Carissa, got us some drinks before walking us through the menu as well as the nightly specials. We were there for steak and that left us with four choices; the black and bleu steak salad, the 8 oz. sirloin that was one of the evening’s specials, a 6 oz. cut of filet, and a 10 oz. NY strip steak. After some discussion as to who was going to order which steak, Amanda decided on the filet and I ordered the NY strip. Amanda asked for her steak to be prepared medium rare and with sautéed mushrooms. I, on the other hand, wanted to be surprised. I told Carissa that besides my strip steak being cooked to a medium rare temperature, I wanted the chef to prepare it any way he or she wanted. I excluded nothing. This was bound to be good.
Our salads and bread, which are included with every entrée, came out first. We were both hungry and the warm bread, flavorful dressings, and fresh greens were a delicious teaser before the meal. By the time our salad plates were empty, we had also finished the bread, which was served with well-seasoned dipping oil, and couldn’t wait for the rest of our food. About ten minutes passed before our meals left the kitchen. I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to be eating. Amanda’s filet was beautiful. The cut was close to an inch-and-a-half thick and covered with lightly seasoned mushrooms. She chose fresh, steamed broccoli and a baked potato for her sides. Her steak was rich in flavor and deliciously tender. The center was a perfect, warm red and the sear on the outside was great. It seemed to be only seasoned with salt and pepper, but it didn’t need more than that because the quality of the meat was excellent. I could eat this steak, and not much else, every day.
My NY strip was a treat. The chef served it on a bed of grilled and caramelized red onions. On top of the steak was a creamy layer of garlic and herb Boursin cheese and set into the cheese were four large, grilled, tail-on shrimp. My steak had fantastic marbling throughout with very little fat on the outside. There was one small piece that I cut off and everything else was perfect. I wouldn’t have thought to order cheese on top of the steak, but it provided so much additional flavor to the already rich beef. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and combined with the sweet red onions, I don’t think I could have created a better steak on my own. The texture, taste, and even the smell of the beef was intoxicating. The only problem was that I wanted seconds.
The quality of the beef made the $70 total price tag for both meals completely worth it. This won’t be a place I visit every weekend, but I will keep it in mind for a special occasion or when I’m in the mood for a fantastic steak. Thank you to Carissa for the attentive service and thank to the chef for the perfectly cooked, amazing, and creative steak.
The phone number for reservations is (814) 838-9270. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday Lounge: 4:30pm-9pm Kitchen: 5pm-9pm, Friday and Saturday Lounge: 4:30pm-10pm Kitchen: 5pm-10pm, and they are closed on Sunday.
Also, Monday, March 12, 1201 Kitchen is celebrating their new open kitchen by having a Dueling Menu Taco Battle with James Beard nominated Eric Williams from Momocho in Cleveland! I will be there for the 8:15 seating and will have a write up about it afterward. I can’t wait to try all of their food.
Until next time,
Andrew – Beard vs. Food