Steuben's Uptown has such a classic, worn-in vibe that it feels much more a part of the neighborhood than its twelve years in existence would indicate. Josh Wolkon launched Steuben's in 2006 in a former garage and salvage yard at 523 East 17th Avenue, inspired by a restaurant by the same name that his family ran from the 1930s to ’60s in Boston. Over the years, Wolkon, whose Secret Sauce restaurant group also run Vesta, Ace Eat Serve and a second Steuben's in Arvada, has honed the Uptown eatery's menu to represent regional cuisine from his New England roots and other parts of America. And a recent overhaul of the food slate now gives even more options as a culinary tour of the country's most distinctive dishes.
Every aspect of the menu has been touched, from the cocktail list, where you'll find gin-and-tonics in a build-your-own-drink format served in a vintage glassware caddie with up to four glasses, to the dessert roster, which now includes a salted caramel choco-taco among other creations by pastry chef Nadine Donovan.
In between, there's a brined and grilled half-chicken cooked under the weight of a brick to crisp the skin, a new version of the regular steak entree that's now a bistro tender (which you can land for $20 on Sunday night, complete with a salad, potatoes, vegetable and a cupcake), Harris Ranch pot roast with roast carrots and mashed potatoes, and a relatively new Nashville-style hot-chicken platter.
On the lighter side, there's "avocado goddess" toast (turning a trendy, open-faced sandwich into a retro classic with the addition of green goddess dressing), a bodega breakfast sandwich straight out of New York City, and a Mediterranean vegetable sandwich. Other new sandwiches include a Cubano, a Chicago-style hot beef sandwich (as the Tuesday special) and the Impossible Burger, a meatless option that Wolkon says is Steuben's only product not made in-house. For new apps, chicken-fried pickles and a whole grilled artichoke join Steuben's classics like the Steubie Snacks and gravy fries.
For those who fear the disappearance of a favorite, know that at least the lobster roll is not going anywhere. It's now market priced (Wolkon notes that the cost of the live Maine lobster he flies in varies wildly from season to season), and it now also comes in either Maine or Connecticut style — dressed in mayo or warm butter, respectively. Other minor changes include the Buffalo wings, which are now served as a whole wing instead of separated pieces; an updated hummus platter topped with artichoke tapenade; and the return of the shrimp po'boy as the Thursday sandwich special.
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New England seafood lovers will appreciate the August special: a pint of fried whole-belly Ipswich clams served with coleslaw and tartar sauce for $19. The bar recommends a New England-style IPA from Epic Brewing as accompaniment.
Next time you drop by Steuben's, whether for a new cocktail like the Smoke in the Afternoon (built with Leopold Bros. cherry liqueur, mezcal and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur) or one of your old favorites (the Steuben's burger, for example, is still only $8), take a stroll around the dining room to view Wolkon's growing collection of diner memorabilia. Many of the old menus, photos and printed materials are from his family's collection, but customers still send him items from the original Steuben's in Boston that have been hidden away for decades. And just over the curve in the bar, there are three vintage light fixtures that Wolkon says were the inspiration for the restaurant's entire decor.
Similar changes are afoot at Steuben's Arvada at 7355 Ralston Road (which is also open for breakfast daily from 8 a.m.), so ask about what's new next time you're in for your Monte Cristo fix.