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Sboro’s continues to show its chops

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Sboro’s Restaurant has beefed up its menu.

One of Watertown’s truly revered family-owned restaurants in May installed a state-of-the-art infrared broiler, enabling them to turn out steaks and chops rivaling some of the top steakhouses in the country.

And they have added “Chop House” to the restaurant’s name.

At the same time, after 20 successful years in business on Coffeen Street, they’ve updated the restaurant with new tables and chairs, reupholstered the booths, painted the walls and installed new lighting.

And of course, they introduced a new menu featuring many tried-and-true favorites as well as the new “Chop House Features”: filet mignon in either 8- or 12-ounce portions ($28/$33), a 16-ounce New York strip steak ($25), a 20-ounce bone-in veal chop ($34), a 16-ounce pork chop ($18), and to make a bold statement, a 28-ounce porterhouse ($32).

You could economize with the 12-ounce sirloin ($18), Art’s 14-ounce rib-eye ($23) or the Chop House chicken for $16.

Sboro’s has always been known for fine dining, and that tradition continues with their signature chicken, veal, duck and seafood dishes.

The WDT Reviewing Team convened in the lounge, accessible via a separate entrance from the back parking lot. It’s a very long bar, fairly well populated for a Wednesday night, we thought. Several high-top tables were occupied. A gas fireplace took the chill out of a damp fall evening.

Our friendly bartender asked if we had dinner reservations, saying they expected to be quite busy and wanted to make sure we could be seated in the dining room. So after a round of drinks, we were escorted by the hostess to the separate dining room with its formal yet inviting ambiance.

The dining room was busy! There were two large parties, including a happy gaggle of Red Hat ladies, several families and a good number of couples enjoying a special night out.

Despite a crowd that could easily put the servers to a test, Daniela arrived at our table with a genuine smile, distributed the classy one-page black-and-white menus and left a handwritten notecard listing a dozen tempting specials.

We went with the regular menu. Lots of tempting choices there, as well: appetizers like lamb pops, panko-encrusted goat cheese, pan-seared tuna and more; signature dishes like roast duckling, chicken and veal Marsala or Francaise, Parmesan haddock and Atlantic salmon. And of course, their Chop House Features.

We began our culinary adventure with rich lobster bisque ($10), not silky smooth like some we’ve had, but with ground lobster that gave it a nice texture — creamy with a touch of sherry. Two grilled, elongated baguette slices served to sop up the thick soup.

We sampled a long-standing favorite on the menu, Sostanza peppers ($9). The stuffed cherry peppers were described as spicy; we’d say they were medium-hot. The mild kick did not overwhelm the salty prosciutto, smoky bacon and cheesy filling.

Lamb pops ($10) consisted of two small chops cut from a rack of lamb and served on a bed of grilled asparagus spears with a mint pesto sauce drizzled over the top. The pesto proved a great way to introduce mint flavor to the dish without having to use the now-unfashionable mint jelly.

Lamb is costly these days, we realize, but three chops might have made for a more pleasing, value-added appetizer.

When we saw “Absolutely Scallops or Shrimp or Chicken” ($12) on the menu, we jumped at the choice that gave us the most bang for our buck, the scallops. And they didn’t skimp on the portion. About a dozen tender scallops were served in a light tomato vodka sauce that was creamy and yummy, blended with linguini and topped with melted Italian cheeses.

For those “absolutely” a fan of this tasty appetizer, it is available as an entrée for $20. We could have easily eaten the appetizer portion as our dinner and been perfectly satisfied.

Duty called, however, and we forged on to the main course, two from the Chop House Features category and two from Sboro’s Signatures.

Filet mignon is a steakhouse benchmark, and Sboro’s nailed it with their 8-ounce center cut ($28) of beef tenderloin.

It arrived perfectly as ordered, rare. The filet was firm, indicating proper aging of the meat, yet possessed a mouthwatering tenderness. A side of rosemary-roasted potato wedges were crisp and flavorful.

An interesting option on the menu is the side list of varied sauces you may add to your meat entrees. For $2, we got the Jack Daniel’s sauce, light and creamy with just a hint of whiskey. A great addition to the filet.

The porterhouse pork chop ($18) was a full 2 inches thick and weighed in at a full pound. It was cooked to a medium doneness as requested, and proved to be tender and juicy. We complemented it with a bourbon glaze ($2) that added to the chop, teasing the palate with sweet and spicy. Perfectly cooked wild rice accompanied.

Pollo Feta ($20) was a good-sized chicken breast stuffed with spinach, red onion, bacon, feta and cream cheese, rolled in a walnut coating and topped with an apricot-teriyaki sauce. The stuffing allowed the chicken to be flavored from within and helped to keep the meat moist.

There were a lot of flavors going on in this dish, which we enjoyed. We would have liked it even more if the sauce had been served on the side, or underneath, as the “crunchy” walnut coating became a little soggy. A wedge of acorn squash baked with brown sugar, butter and walnuts was appreciated.

Veal Marsala ($20), also available as a chicken dish for $18, featured thinly pounded veal dredged in flour and lightly sautéed. It was topped with a Marsala sauce made with lots of heavy cream and loaded with nicely sautéed mushrooms, served over linguini.

The sauce was very rich, which some may love and some may find too much. While we put it in the “like” category, I personally prefer a beefier Marsala sauce, more like a demi-glace.

Dinners included a house salad made with fresh, crisp romaine and spring mix along with cherry tomatoes and red onion. Dressings are made in-house. Crumbly blue adds $1 to the salad. For $2 you could substitute an antipasto or a Caesar salad.

Daniela was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive the entire evening. Dishes were cleared and silverware was replaced in a timely fashion. Toward the end, she tempted us with a tray full of great-looking homemade desserts, but there were no takers after a filling meal.

Four appetizers and four entrees cost $141.15 before tip. A round of drinks — a beer, a cocktail and two glasses of wine — came in at a little over $20. Through November, Chop House Feature entrée prices are chopped by 20 percent on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Sboro family has been a long-standing member of the Watertown culinary community. It was nice to see the owner, Art, and his wife, Heather, there on a weeknight, working the room and saying hi to many of their customers by their first names.

With 20 years behind them at Sboro’s, it looks like they’re off to a good start on the next 20 with the new Chop House addition to the restaurant.

TidbitS

Gram’s Diner, 13 Main St. in Adams, has launched a website, GramsDinerAdams.com, and is adding Sunday hours — 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — by popular demand, starting today. They’re offering an expanded breakfast menu on the weekends with choices like carrot cake waffles with cream cheese glaze and eggs Benedict.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: wsiebel@wdt.net.

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Sboro’s Restaurant & Chop House

836 Coffeen St.

Watertown, N.Y.

788-1728

www.sborosrestaurant.com



Sboro’s Restaurant, one of Watertown’s revered family-owned restaurants has added “Chop House” to its name, now offering top-quality steaks and chops.

HOURS: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday

5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

APPETIZER PICKS: “Absolutely” scallops, Stozanza peppers, lobster bisque

ENTRÉE PICKS: Filet mignon with Jack Daniel’s sauce, porterhouse pork chop with bourbon glaze, Pollo Feta, veal Marsala

RATING: 4 forks

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