Local restaurant week is here, running now until October 22nd. Western NY Restaurant Week is an event that celebrates the vital role our local independent restaurants play in Buffalo’s cultural identity and regional economy. For restaurant goers, it’s a tantalizing opportunity to sample new foods and diverse cultural cuisine at many area restaurants.
Restaurant week is important, not just to new establishments, but for our community as a whole. While we have gained many new restaurants, and are viewed as a cuisine mecca to other cities across the globe, it’s important to also understand the people behind the food. That’s what restaurant week gives us–a glimpse into the chefs and owners that put our fabulous menus together. There is passion for food here in Buffalo NY, and the chefs and owners behind that food have helped create a story and a uniqueness to their menus that have made the “food scene” here in Buffalo tremendously successful.
Special dining features are priced at $20.17, $30.17 or $40.17. It’s a great way to sample “cuisine outside the routine” (according to proprietors of local restaurant week) of the national chains and give local independent restaurants a try. Below are my top picks for you to try this restaurant week!
31 Club– Did you know that the building the 31 Club resides in dates back to the 1940s? Originally a supper club for the elite, it entertained such individuals as Lucille Ball, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, and Christine Baranski–all of whom hailed from Buffalo/Jamestown NY. The 31 Club is a refined space in downtown Buffalo, that one almost drives right by. It’s unassuming exterior does not do justice to the elegant, cream colored brick and wood interior. The rustic features and private dining areas offer tranquility wrapped in soft jazz music. With terrific options such as, Chicken Milanese, Filet Mignon, and grilled wild Salmon, it’s a must try during restaurant week. You can view the set menu here.
Allen Street Poutine Company– This restaurant is not for the health conscious. White subway tiles, pink neon lighting, and unusual crayon marker drawings on the walls lend to the “fun” factor that Allen Street is going for. Set right in the heart of the eccentric artistic district of Buffalo’s downtown, the Poutine Company offers Canadian style flare to this hip urban area. What does poutine stand for? Well, it’s french, and means french fries drizzled in gravy and covered with cheese curds. As I said, not for the health conscious. Now, take that basic element and add about 19 other options!! That’s what this restaurant is all about. You can try a pulled pork poutine, a Philly cheese steak poutine, a General Tao poutine, or mix them together! To view the set menu, click here.
Asa Ransom House– This amazing restaurant tucked quietly into the countryside hills of Clarence, offers not only a terrific family style menu, but history to boot! Asa Ransom was a wealthy business owner, originally from Clarence, and for whom many businesses are named after. The house offers a bed and breakfast for traveling folks, a roaring fireplace in one of their many sitting rooms, afternoon tea, and wonderful dinner menu. I have reviewed Asa Ransom House, and you can view it here. For the set menu, click here.
Gabriel’s Gate- Look, the name says it all. Gabriel, one of the infamous Archangel’s, guards the gate to this ultimate chicken wing establishment (and might just be sprinkling angel dust over these sumptuous wings). With Gothic style pews (literally donated and bought from old churches), over-sized chandelier, and multiple animal heads adorning the brick walls (not sure about the heads), Gabriel’s Gate is known for one thing….chicken wings! Boy do they do wings, even better than the Anchor Bar (dare I say it). Mostly bar food, the wings are what you want. They are only offering one set menu price option (with a steak), so I suggest leaving a little extra room for the wings. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Hydraulic Hearth– Known as part of the revitalization of the Larkin Square District, the Hearth offers some amazing brick oven pizzas. My fave is their Dukes of Hazzard (which sadly I’ve only seen twice as it is a special pizza). Oozing with maple syrup, fried chicken bites, and waffles layered on top of a thin doughy crust, this is a pizza that, if on special, has to be eaten! Their mushroom pizza, sausage pomodoro, and arugula pesto are also big hits. Their menu is limited, but they do offer some great appetizers and specials. The outdoor patio, and life-size games offer a child like element. Many a politician have been spotted here, as it’s a great happy hour hot spot. The Larkin Square district is steeped in history. For the set menu, click here.
Lucia’s on the Lake– What better way to wrap up the fabulous fall weather we’ve been having, than to visit the quaint charming village of Hamburg NY, then sit and watch the Lake Erie sunset at Lucia’s. With oversized windows that offer extensive sunset views, Lucia’s has some truly tantalizing Italian style comfort foods. Who doesn’t want an enormous bowl of lobster mac-and-cheese, or generously portioned calamari (perfectly crispy by the way), or a shrimp and lobster risotto. With simple, seaside decor, a roof top deck, and an owner who personally comes out to say hello to each table, Lucia’s is a must! View the set menu here.
Merge– If you are looking for something a bit healthier, or a Sunday brunch that will knock your socks off, then check out Merge restaurant on Delaware Ave. This artsy, health-conscious cafe offers vegan & gluten-free dishes, organic wines & a stage for music. On Sundays, cartoons are played on the big screen for the kiddos, while you sip one of the best bloody Mary’s around. One of my favorite dishes is their Sesame Ginger Chicken. Merge also supports our local farmers, such as, Oles Farm, Flat 12 Mushrooms, Arden Farms, Finger Lake Farms and Schneider’s Seafood. View set menu here.
William K’s- This restaurant is one I recently reviewed on my new segment Food 411, on the T.V. show Come Dine with Me WNY. William K’s and it’s chef, Todd Lesakowski, is known for introducing a diverse pallet to diners. Foods such as beef tongue, octopus, and bone marrow were the basics for many poor communities years ago. Lesakowski wants diners to have a sense of “getting back to basics” and understand what some traditional dishes can offer when paired with the right ingredients. Right next door to the Hatch, and located on Buffalo’s popular waterfront, William K’s uses the scenery to inspire its dishes. For more information on William K’s, view my T.V. segment.
You can also view their set menu here.
Last but not least, Raclette’s– This stunning french bistro is located in the heart of the Theater District in Buffalo. The name raclette means a traditional French/Swiss meal. A unique raclette menu is the highlight of Raclettes, along with cheese and chocolate fondues, crepes – both sweet and savory, soups, salads, Mussels (of course) with pomme frites and French/European Provencal style specials (think Ratatouille). They offer a scrumptious Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, featuring a weekly quiche and delicious Croissant French toast. The decor is styled in traditional French flare and makes you feel like you just stepped through a portal onto the streets of Paris. The bartenders are a delight and have a wealth of Buffalo knowledge that will make you the hit of any trivia night. It’s a cool, artistic place, filled with the likes of aspiring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, Isabelle Adjani’s, and Victor Hugo’s. View the set menu options here.
While there are so many more delicious delights to be eaten this restaurant week, these are definitely some of my favorites. But also make sure to check out: Mason’s Grille in Hamburg NY, CRaVing on Hertel Ave., The Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, and Smoke on the Water in Tonawanda.