Mexican chef introducing avant-garde touches, Latin flavors at Youngstown’s Old Fort Inn - The Buffalo News

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Mexican chef introducing avant-garde touches, Latin flavors at Youngstown’s Old Fort Inn

A Mexican chef has taken over the Bistro at the Old Fort Inn in Youngstown, aiming to offer Latin flavors refined with French technique and a touch of showmanship.

Chef Victor Parra Gonzalez, a native of Acapulco, is now in charge of the menu at Jaguar at the Bistro (110 Main St., Youngstown, 745-7141). Parra Gonzalez said he has classical French culinary training and worked at restaurants in Montreal and at the Seneca Niagara Casino for about eight years before opening his own place.

“We’re getting our feet wet, getting to know the community and hopefully creating some good food,” he said. Though he’s Mexican, it’s “not necessarily a Mexican restaurant. Our menu is going to be influenced by Latin flavors, but with French technique.” The place currently offers 12 entrees, including some finished at the table by the server, “not your typical tacos and salsa.”

So far he’s getting good reactions to a dish of seared scallops with a butternut squash and lobster sauce ($20), he said. The current menu includes tilapia with white cheese sauce and almonds torched tableside ($18), live lobster with tequila beurre blanc (market price), a chicken tinga appetizer ($9) and a chile stuffed with meat, fruit and nuts in nogada foam, a avant-garde variation on the classic Mexican walnut sauce ($18).

But he’s introducing the Latin flavors slowly while keeping favorites like chicken and biscuits ($15), shrimp Alfredo ($15) and pork chops with apple chutney ($14).

“I’m hoping that the people in Youngstown will support it and we’ll be able to create a destination,” he said. “It’s hard for somebody to get out to Youngstown, to dine at this restaurant where a dish will be flambéed at the table, or infused with a siphon, or have smoke to it. People don’t know it yet, but that’s the type of things that are coming.”

First, his place has to gain favor with the people of Youngstown, and make it through the winter, he acknowledged.

“So far it’s only been 15 days that we’ve leased the property,” he said Monday. “We still need to work out the details of how we’re going to switch over to Jaguar at the Bistro.”

Open: Mericana, 80 Main St., Lockport, has opened with a menu that mixes comfort (daily mac and cheese) with adventure (Buffalo style frog legs). The drinks menu includes a $7 tangerine margarita. It’s by chef-owner Michael Zambito, whose Zambistro in Medina has won praise from local eaters. After a grand opening in early November, dinner is served daily starting at 4 p.m. More at 201-1859,

Added: Polonaise, an extensive lineup of Polish pastries and desserts, to Janice Schlau’s Prosit (5428 Main St., Williamsville, 633-8975). Veteran baker adds counter serving treats like individual cheesecakes, strudel pinwheels, rum baba with mascarpone, poached pears with crème Anglaise, and pierniki, a Polish spice cookie. $3.50 -$7.95. Starts today through the holidays.

Closed: Customers have reported that the North Star Tavern, on Seneca Street in East Aurora, appears to have closed. Phone calls were unavailing.

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