Stepping into Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar is like walking into a vintage gentleman’s club. The lighting is low, the seating is intimate, the furniture mostly dark wood, and the bar is a sight to behold with its marble base and extensive collection of bourbons and assorted liqueurs.
At the entrance you’re greeted by “Teddy,” the trophy bison that hangs in Tweed’s, nicknamed for President Teddy Roosevelt, who shot this very bull in 1902.
Tweed’s is known for its bison meat, which is harvested from animals that are born and bred on Long Island—just down the road from the restaurant where the meat is served. I’ve never had the opportunity to try bison before, and I learned that bison meat, being extremely lean, is considered healthier than chicken breasts.
We started our meal with a smoked duck breast salad, or “duck bacon,” as I’m calling it, because that’s exactly what it looked like. The smoked meat is sliced thinly and served cold, and layered over a bed of mixed greens with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, (which is also drizzled over the meat). The smoky, rich duck paired deliciously with the spicy greens and tangy vinaigrette.
Bay scallops sautéed in a white wine beurre blanc came next, and the scallops were so tender they nearly melted in my mouth. The beurre blanc was buttery, lemony and heavenly with the delicate scallops.
Next we tried the crispy fried calamari appetizer—no wimpy little calamari rings here at Tweed’s. These rings of calamari were at least an inch thick, the breading was light and fried until crispy, and the meat inside still tender and moist.
Our first foray into the unknown was a quail that had been stuffed with mushrooms and wild rice, wrapped in bacon and roasted to perfection, served with a sauté of spinach and garlic. I found the quail meat to be more tender than any chicken I’ve ever had, and the filling was woodsy and moist, flavored with herbs and spices.
We were in for a real treat with an item that’s not on Tweed’s regular menu—house made bison sausage, wrapped in bacon (are you sensing a bacon theme) and cooked until the bacon is crispy. My first bite was a revelation—bison meat tastes something like a cross between pork and beef. It’s not as heavy as beef but not as light as pork, as far as taste goes. It’s a “cleaner” flavor. The bison sausage was delicious, moist on the inside and complemented just right with the salty bacon exterior. I wouldn’t mind at all if these became a menu staple, they were that good!
Off the entrée menu we tried the Grilled Bison Cowboy steak, cooked medium rare and served with a compound butter of garlic and herbs. Once the steak is put in front of you, take your butter and let it melt over the steak so in every bite you get the hints of herb and garlic, enhancing the flavor of the bison meat. I found the bison steak to be even more flavorful than beef. We also tried the monstrous roasted Veal Shank, served with a mountain of mushrooms in a savory brown sauce. The meat was impossibly tender, and paired perfectly with hearty cremini mushrooms.
The house dessert at Tweed’s is the crème brûlée—and since it’s my favorite, I had to try it. The creamy custard was spot-on, with wonderful vanilla hints that sent my taste buds into a frenzy. We also had a giant slice of Holy Moses Cheesecake, which, if you’ve never had, you definitely should.
Big. Bold. Bison. That’s how I’d describe the cuisine at Tweed’s. The flavors are big, their portions are bold and the bison is the best you
Tweed’s is located at 17 East Main Street in the heart of downtown Riverhead. Visit tweedsrestaurantriverhead.com for more information.