Getting “Steered” to Steak Houses

The big old, red re-done barn on Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack is always bustling. Tops in the “Best of N.H. 2003,” Silo’s serves up all varieties of steak: porterhouse, Delmonico, New York strip, filet mignon, even buffalo. Owned by Dean and Susanne Robbins, the restaurant serves steak tips that are blended with a bourbon glaze, an Italian marinade or maple with a touch of mesquite. Look for a little surf to be added to the turf, as plans call for a renovation by the end of April. They’ll be adding a new entrance, taking down some walls and tweaking the lighting.

“We’re going to be adding a raw bar and a fancy 8,000-gallon lobster tank,” says Dean Robbins. Lobster, oysters, shrimp and more fish will be added to the menu, but steaks remain king.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and even honorary Rat Pack members should all feel at home at The Library in Portsmouth, where a 24-ounce bonein rib eye is complemented with a choice of 96 martinis. General manager Joanne Hall suggests a couple of pairings to go with executive chef Keith Cowan’s creations: filet mignon with an Absolut Mandarin and steak au poivre with an Absolut Peppard. “We do have some marriages with martinis and steaks,” she says.

How about a pairing of steak and spa? Say a porterhouse and hot stone massage. That’s a possibility at Foster’s Steak House at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth, not far from the university. The inn has a full-service spa and a 130-seat steak house, where Lenny Emery serves up light musical fare on a baby grand piano.

Executive chef Gregory McKindles oversees menu items like the Cowboy steak, a 20- ounce bone-in rib eye, and the sizzling New York strip, topped with bleu cheese. In an old mill on the property, the three-story Boiler Room Lounge has comfy couches and a fireplace for those steaks. “We’ve got that same Common Man feeling, but in a more elegant setting,” says assistant manager Emma Womack.

WRKO’s Pat Whitley has raved about Spatt’s at the Massabesic traffic circle in Manchester, and so have readers of New Hampshire Magazine, who voted it runner-up for Best Steaks. Truth is, about 40 percent of the business at Spatt’s is prime rib, an insider tells us. Owned by Cindy O’Brien, the Sunday through Thursday special features a 12- to 14-ounce cut, while daily on the menu is the queen cut — a 16-ouncer — and the huge bone-in king cut, 32 prime ounces.

There’s no missing the cow atop the Merlino’s Steak House sign on Route 16 in North Conway. A family owned restaurant for 37 years, Rick Luciano took over the operation from his parents in 1978. Specializing in beef and Italian fare, the 12-ounce sirloin is a top item. Merlino’s serves certified Angus beef.

For the record, cows don’t fly. The black cow outside the restaurant once graced the restaurant itself, but it had to be moved when Route 16 was widened. And no, says Luciano, no one has ever tried to relocate the cow.

Housed in Concord’s Holiday Inn, the Kansas City Steakhouse has everything from L’il Pardner sirloins to their signature Kansas City sirloin, grilled with sweet onions. The family-oriented restaurants feature nightly entertainment.

Try to get a line on those seasonings at an Outback Steakhouse and everyone clams up. “Sorry, can’t tell you,” said Matthew White, kitchen manager at the Bedford Outback, about the closely guarded secret. The franchise — Concord and Newington, too — always gets thumbs-up from readers. The 12- ounce center cut sirloin, the Outback special, and the tender nine-ounce Victoria’s filet are top favorites. It’s bonzer for that walkabout mate.