Local Restaurant Week preview night - PHOTOS
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • October 11, 2012 @ 9:27am
The spectacular Hotel at the Lafayette hosted the preview dinner of Local Restaurant Week, Buffalo’s biannual focus on pushing business to local eateries. From Oct. 15 to 21, dining establishments all over Western New York—from downtown Buffalo to Corfu—will offer deals for $20.12.
After a 45-minute open bar courtesy of the WNY Chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a group of 30 diners—including many workers from local wineries—gathered together on the second floor of Mike A’s Steakhouse to indulge in entrees from esteemed participants in Local Restaurant Week. Here’s a quick rundown of each dish, then a couple of the $20.12 options from the featured restaurants:
Sashimi Sample from Seabar and Chef Mike Andrzejewski (who just returned from a trip to Hawaii, I may add):
While I don’t think there’s any question that Seabar offers the best tuna in town (it’s the deeper red piece on the plate)—seriously, it has the consistency of butter and has a pleasant mild flavor—it was my first ever octopus experience (thanks to TEDx Buffalo organizer Kevin Purdy for recognizing the octopus—the small white strips with a reddish border). Despite usually preferring rolls over sashimi, there’s no questioning the quality of the fish that Andrzejewski Fed-Exes in overnight from Hawaii. The crusted spices sprinkled at the bottom of the photo were the best part, as they immediately enlivened each piece of fish without overly masking the flavor.
**Best Seabar restaurant week dish: Sushi Surfboard for $20.12—Maki roll, nigiri, handroll and sesame noodles. Don’t be afraid of nigiri—it’s not the snake from Harry Potter—as it’s basically just a piece of extraordinarily fresh fish set atop sushi rice.
Obarka spared no expense in piecing together this signature Italian dish—he used a ragu of beef, veal and pork (he knew the blend of his mixture down to the percentile)—and incorporated house-made pancetta and house-made noodles. Unreal, right? It’s easy to respect restaurants that put so much care into their ingredients. The thin squares of parmesan reggiano gave the dish a bite.
**Best Ristorante Lombardo Restaurant Week dish: There are pretty detailed choices, so it would behoove you to check out the LRW menu itself. The tagliatelle Bolognese is available, too.
Foie Gras Burger from Mike A’s Steakhouse and Chef and Local Restaurant Week founder Mike Andrzejewski:
Not surprisingly, I’d never tried a foie gras burger before, but the rather weighty slice of foie gras perched atop a uber-tender, medium rare burger—served open with a mini-wafer-style-baguette and red onion compote—was scrumptious. A much different texture than the foie gras torchon—a slightly different preparation at Mike A’s—it worked nicely with the burger, as neither flavor was overpowering. The red onion compote added a necessary sweetness, too.
**Best Mike A’s Steakhouse offer for Local Restaurant Week: The Foie Gras Burger is paired with a Flying Bison beer for $20.12. Don’t think twice.
Surf & Turf from Mulberry Cafe and chef/owner Joseph Jerge:
I’m a little jaded with surf and turf—it’s usually overpriced and unsatisfying (in my experience, at least). Fresh lobster was up to par, but I could eat the stracchiatella cheese it was served on all day long. Intensely creamy with a stronger-than-expected flavor, the cheese—often used to make burrata—was the smoothest mozzarella I’ve ever had. I’m a sucker for any mozzarella, though. Something about the term “veal cheek” made me a touch nervous, but it was superbly tender and mild in flavor. Unfortunately, the potato puree and pan sauce left the “turf” part a little boring. The stracciatella cheese still won the meal for me.
**Best dish at Mulberry Cafe for Local Restaurant Week: The Lackawanna hot-spot offers a three-course menu that changes every night during restaurant week. There are no other hints. I’m intrigued.