Saia’s On The Lake
Saia’s On The Lake was the reincarnation of the Beef Room, a steakhouse founded in the 1960s on Causeway Boulevard at I-10. The Beef Room was the successor to the Sirloin Room on South Claiborne well before that. (All of this is covered in an article elsewhere in the Extinct Restaurants department of NOMenu.com.)
The Saia family took over the Beef Room in the 1980s and moved it across the intersection to a larger building. But it was hard to get to, and after fighting that battle for a decade owner Sam Saia decided to move.
The restaurant on the corner of Lake Avenue and Hammond Highway in Bucktown was available–again. The address saw a parade of restaurants over the years (C’Est La Vie, Carmine’s, Rico’s and Muses were the most recent). The previous two tenants left behind premises handsome enough to allow Saia to move his restaurant right in.
This new Saia’s had a view of the levee, not the lake behind it. But the lake and the history of Bucktown had to be recognized. Although they continued to serve prime steaks, the menu flipped almost entirely over to seafood. They cooked it not just in the standard fried and boiled forms, but in more ambitious, unexpected ways.
Saia’s had trout Marguery, escargots, baked oysters several ways, barbecue shrimp, and crabmeat au gratin. The best appetizer was unique: a grilled duck sausage. The rest of the duck was roasted with a cherry brandy glaze, sent out almost sizzling. Seafood-stuffed mushrooms with hollandaise were excellent. Shrimp remoulade was more like a salad. Seafood gumbo. Turtle soup.
The fried seafood platters were billed as boats, but it was just standard garlic bread topped with shrimp, oysters, or catfish, all of which were rendered well. But Saia’s didn’t have a chance in the fried-seafood biz against the plethora of other fry shacks in West End Park nearby.
On the other hand, Saia’s steaks were the best in the vicinity. The grade was prime, and the style sizzling in butter. They also had a large and excellent double-bone pork chop, and a rack of baby lamb chops.
Saia’s was in business when, on August 29, 2005, something big made it close. Sam Saia decided that he was old enough to exit the restaurant business gracefully, and that was the end of that.