The Major Outranks All Others On The Grill
Tips, burgers, beers, and salad for the Salem appetite
By The BaldOne
Salem has a lot of places where you can get a meal. Most are newer to the community, some are newer than others. If you have lived in Salem for 20 years, there is a good chance that most lifelong Townies still consider you a newcomer. Restaurants are somewhat the same. Few have been here more than twenty years.
Major MagLeashe’s has been located on Washington Street since 1974. That is 42 years of continuous service to the hungry and thirsty people of Salem. Two of the original partners still own it, and both Phil and Flash continue to do shifts in the kitchen. Phil is still lean of build and has a bit of the professorial look about him. Flash, known as the most meticulous burger maker in Salem still looks as if he could remove a misbehaving patron in a pinch.
In all honesty we have been a longtime fan of the Major, having had our first legal alcoholic beverage there in 1978. We knew what to expect on arrival, but decided that the time had come to put on our reviewing hat. We last reviewed them as a part of a best burger project five years ago.
Walking in from the bright sun it took a moment for the eyes to adjust to the light. Freddy, the old reliable was behind the bar, which was full with customers. A couple of tables were also occupied. We selected a table in the middle of the dining room where we could see the bar, the kitchen, and the Keno screens. Phil was in the kitchen with a couple of younger assistants and the smell the meat cooking on the grill wrapped around the room.
The draught beer selection is limited, but that is not an issue as Major’s is the only place where we drink Bud Heavy on tap. Their taps are always ice cold and that is the only way we find a Bud palatable. The waitress was quick with both the beer and the menu.The decision was made for chili, a salad, and then steak tips.
A cup of the house-made chili was the starter. This is not a spicy chili, but they do have hot sauce available. There was a time when they had ghost pepper cheese on hand, and this day it was missed. We settled for the habanero cheese and some added raw onion.
The chili is excellent, and consistent. You never have to worry that it will be different from the last time that you had it. It is meaty, the beans are cooked right, and the sauce is always of the same consistency. I have always found it a little sweet, but the cheese and the hot sauce are there for you if you need it.
In a day where a basic, unadulterated salad seems to have become passe, Major’s house salad is a revelation. The Major leaves the upscale, fancy-dan stuff to others. Fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, tomato, celery, and some shaved carrots fill the bowl. As always I added onion and topped it with a very good, and quite chunky bleu cheese dressing.
All of the above was just to limber up the appetite. We were there one reason.
It was time to order the steak tips
There are few places in Salem that don’t serve steak tips. They are a Salem, a north shore, and a Massachusetts dietary staple. Almost everyplace serves them, and they all have their own way of preparing, marinating, and cooking the meat.
The Major, just like he is with everything else is as solid as a rock. The steak tips are the same every time. Tender and full of flavor from both the meat and the marinade, with just the right amount of that char-broiled taste and texture that you want in your steak tips. We added melted american cheese.
Every bite, and on average there were four to each tip which was as requested cooked to a proper medium-rare.
The side can be fries, onion rings, or rice pilaf. We opted for a mix of friends and rings. In the summer there is usually a potato salad available.
If you are going to have steak tips in Salem only once this year, it has to be at Major MagLeashe’s.
The basics if this review are simple. At Major MagLeashe’s the food is good, the beer is cold, and the price is right.
We announce here today that the Salem Food Digest Hall of Fame, hereby decrees that the very first menu item to be inducted is officially, the Steak Tips by The Major