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  • Writer's pictureBob Thomas

Chef's Best - 1157 North

Just one block off Route 14, (College Avenue to the locals) and you will find the first stop on our Chef’s Best Tour. 1157 North Is located at, you guessed it, 1157 North Main Street in Elmira. This place has charm and history; first opened in 1946 as the Palms Restaurant. The Palms operated continuously for more than 60 years before closing in 2015. This neighborhood eatery was not shuttered for long. Joe and Mona Steigerwald came in with a business plan, knowledge of how to make fresh pasta passed down by former owner Mary Canali, a new American/Italian menu and plenty of friendly faces.

Joe Steigerwald brings more than 40 years of hospitality experience to 1157 North. His journey began with a degree in Restaurant Management from SUNY Delhi, followed by years in the Hotel industry, and Country Club Management. His passion for the guest experience and opportunity to craft a unique menu of fresh ingredients lead he and his wife Mona to jump at the chance to breathe life into the historic location, now known as 1157 North. February 26th marked the 5th Anniversary of the restaurant’s opening. Joe recounts the growth experienced during the first four years, 20% year over year; and the rollercoaster year that Covid-19 has caused. A quick shift to take-out was doing well, adjusting again to reopening with capacity restrictions, and the struggle of a restaurant lying within an Orange Zone designation. Through it all the quality of the food never wavered, and that is why they are our first “Chef’s Best.”

The concept is a simple one, reserve a table and let the Owner and Chef pick their best to serve to you. Joe was given total control to select the wine, appetizer, and entrée for me, while my wife would choose an entrée of her choice. Upon arrival a warm greeting and smiling face was provided by Lisa, our server. She was just as excited to see how the night would unfold as we were. The relaxed atmosphere felt like home and when Joe stopped by to say hello, it was like meeting an old friend.

The menu was surveyed and the anticipation for the meal grew. There were countless items I was hoping to see. What would it be? First, the wine; a 2017 Louis Martin Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County. Being more well-versed in wine from the Finger Lakes, it was nice to experience something new. The red had more body than something from our local vineyards, rich fruit notes with a buttery finish. When my entrée arrived, this wine selection was a perfect pair.

Truth be told, while surveying the “Weekend Special” menu there was an appetizer item I would order in a heartbeat if choosing for myself. Any of the apps of the traditional menu would have been welcome, from Italian favorites such Bruschetta or Meatballs, to the familiar Shrimp Cocktail and Coconut Shrimp. It was the Tuna Sashimi Tower that caught my eye, and that is exactly what the Chef prepared. The presentation was stunning, and the combination of textures and flavors were impeccable. I am a sucker for Tuna Sashimi and this dish hit it out of the park. Clean, bright, refreshing, balanced… it was everything a Chef’s Best dish should be.

If I was in sync with the Chef for the appetizer, the entrée was the experience this feature was made for. Again, the menu offered many selections to suit every palette. Fresh made pasta, USDA Choice cuts of steak, the finest seafood; you cannot go wrong. What the Chef prepared for my entrée was something I had never experienced before, Osso Bucco. Veal shank braised in vegetable and white wine broth, served with risotto and vegetables. I would never have sat down in this or any restaurant and made this selection. The veal was tender, but not soft. The sauce was rich and deep, but not heavy. The touch of mint sent the dish over the top. Oh, and I could not pass-up the indulgent, succulent marrow calling my name. Resting on a bed of perfectly cooked and seasoned risotto; this dish is now on the top of my list.

The wine, the appetizer, and the entrée; truly a Chef’s Best experience I will never forget. Thank you to the Steigerwald’s, Chef Mike and Lisa for a wonderful night.

Reserve your table, taste for yourself. Just ask for the Chef’s Best!


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