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By Mary LeFevre

I'd heard about the renowned Lockport steak restaurant for many years. Even when I was a kid, Danny Sheehan's was a destination. So when dear friends asked us to join them on a recent Friday night, I really looked forward to it.

Hubby and I arrived early and had a grand time at the bar with owner, Mike Innis. Mike began working at the venue when he was 16 years old as a busboy. At 18, he became the bartender, and then while working full time at a large insurance agency, he moonlighted. When original owners Danny and Betty decided to bolt, Mike was right there, picking up the apron strings without a blink.

Mike and wife Kris, with their two sons and daughter, have been holding down the eatery for over 10 years now and still going strong. Betty Sheehan, now in her 80s and widowed, hostesses every Friday night.

The bar area, which seats 16, and the 70-seat dining room were jam-packed. Everyone seemed to know each other. There is also an outside screened-in deck seating 80.

Every entree comes with chef salad, choice of potato (au gratin, baked, French fries, home fries or mashed) or vegetables, and garlic or plain toast.

Hubby and I had the 10-ounce prime rib at $19.95 -- yummy, yummy, and more yummy! The meat was so tender and flavorful.

Our friends had the $9.95 fresh fish special, which is offered only on Thursdays and Fridays. You can order it broiled, beer-battered (their choice), Cajun-parmed or au gratin. The plate didn't look very enticing to me, although they thoroughly enjoyed it.

I decided to return again soon to get a taste of other offerings. Hubby and I showed up with his brother a few weeks later -- in fact, on Easter evening.

I was surprised that it was relatively quiet, though I understand business had been brisk during the day. We sat at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail and had an enjoyable conversation with the amiable and laid-back Mike.

We were seated, and our waiter, Mike's nephew Tyler, was great -- friendly, upbeat, knowledgeable. Several specials were offered: Surf and Turf (half-pound lobster tail and 10-ounce New York Strip or 6-ounce filet) for two at $42, and the $20.10 specials (16-ounce prime rib,Ębroiled scallops au gratin or with garlic and bacon, or mesquite or Cajun broiled prawns).

In addition to French onion, soups of the day were tenderloin taco with rice, and beer cheddar bacon.

We ordered an appetizer combo plate to start, consisting of two gigantic shrimp, two stuffed mushrooms and two baked stuffed clams, at $8.50.

Hubby ordered the rack of lamb with the beer cheddar soup at $24.95. His brother had the prime rib special with soup and salad (with delish sweet-and-sour Italian house dressing), at $19.95. Still being full from our Easter brunch, I decided to go on the light side and ordered the salmon at $15.95.

While touted as being a steak and seafood restaurant, the meat is really extraordinary. The salmon was OK, but definitely overcooked. Next time (and there will be next times) I am going to stick with the meats. The lamb was beautifully cooked at medium rare and as tender as can be. The prime rib was perhaps the best I've ever tasted.

The regular menu at Danny Sheehan's is extensive, plus they offer several specials every day, including fried lake perch for $13.95 on Tuesdays. Reasonable Early Bird Specials are offered Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

To get the full picture, have a look at www.dannysheehans.com. Even the wine list is detailed.

One of the many things I really like about Danny Sheehan's is that even though they serve well-cooked, high-end food, the atmosphere is casual and friendly. If you close your eyes, you would think you were eating at a great Manhattan steak house. But when you open your eyes, you are enjoying this extraordinary meal in an understated, unpretentious and incredibly friendly environment. Mike makes it a point to personally greet every entering diner and thank every departing diner. And he is sincere. And believe me, it matters.

Danny Sheehan's Steakhouse
491 West Ave.
Lockport, N.Y.
Monday: Closed (will open for private parties of 50 or more)
Tuesday through Thursday: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Magic show on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
Friday and Saturday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Early Bird Specials are offered Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 27, 2010