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Restaurant notes: Fundraiser for Erba Verde; The Place reopens

Chef Adam Goetz is one of a small but growing group of Buffalo restaurateurs whose pursuit of the best ingredients has driven them to build relationships with local farmers.

On April 24, at his restaurant called Craving, 1472 Hertel Ave., Goetz is holding a fundraising dinner for Erba Verde Farms. The star will be a veal calf.

Unlike factory-farmed veal, the calf was raised with his mother, growing fat on her milk and grazing on pasture at the East Aurora farm, said Bryan Strzelec, head of Erba Verde. As far as animals raised for meat go, that calf had a great life, with one bad day, he said.

Strzelec is a fourth-generation farmer who runs Erba Verde as truly modern farm. The farm’s products are diversified, as was the custom a century ago, yet they are sold with the help of the Internet. Its website, erbaverde.com, puts potential customers in touch with its core product: a milk and yogurt share program.

A calf from Erba Verde Farms. (via Erba Verde's Facebook page)

A calf from Erba Verde Farms. (via Erba Verde's Facebook page)

Besides the dairy black market, one of the only ways to get a reliable source of raw milk – full-fat, unpasteurized, from grass-fed cows – is to join a dairy collective. Customers buy a share in the herd of Jersey and Jersey-Holstein cows, and get a weekly share of its milk.

When the cows have male calves, they stay with their mother, instead of being separated and fed formula, Strzelec said, as with most commercial veal calves. They are butchered at about 90 days old, having grown to about 300 pounds.

Goetz is a huge fan of the product. “It’s unlike any other veal I’ve had,” said Goetz, whose farm-to-table menu led to an invitation to cook at the James Beard House culinary showcase in Manhattan last year. “It’s red, not white, with great fat and a distinct flavor closer to beef.” All of Craving’s chicken already comes from Erba Verde.

[Read about New School Buffalo food, of which Goetz is a key cog]

Erba Verde’s operation hasn’t grown to the point where it can supply as much meat as Craving and other like-minded places can use, Goetz said. He tried to pay ahead for veal to be delivered later, and Strzelec declined. So he’s doing this instead to put some money in Strzelec’s pocket. The staff is volunteering their time, and all proceeds go to Erba Verde.

The April 24 dinner, includes cocktail-hour hors doeuvres (veal sausage, agnolotti) and five courses (carpaccio, salad with crispy veal, ragu, roasted leg, dessert) with wine pairings. It’s $150 all inclusive, and starts at 5 p.m. Reservations: 440-4826.

Bourbon & Butter closed: Bourbon & Butter, Mike Andrzejewski’s restaurant in Hotel @ the Lafayette, closed after service April 16.

“We’ve had some great people working for us, and some great customers,” the veteran Buffalo chef-owner said. “We appreciate everything everyone’s done, but it’s time to move on.”

Andrzejewski opened Mike A’s in the refurbished hotel in 2012 as a fine-dining establishment with a luxe menu. In 2014, he renamed it Bourbon & Butter, refocused on innovative mid-market comfort food and downsized to the former Mike A’s Art Deco bar.

“Unfortunately, our lease is up and it made more sense for the hotel overall to combine the first floor under one tenant,” Andrzejewski said. “Most of our employees are being rehired at our other restaurants. Any remaining outstanding gift cards will be honored at Tappo or SeaBar at full value.”

The outside of Bourbon and Butter inside the Hotel at the Lafayette. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The outside of Bourbon and Butter inside the Hotel at the Lafayette. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The Place returns: Elmwood Village restaurant The Place reopened last week, gladdening fans cultivated over the decades, and a new generation of regulars.

The restaurant at 229 Lexington Ave. has been extensively remodeled, including changes that let more light into the interior. We found the old tongue and groove beadboard ceiling above the drop ceiling and restored that, brought it back,” said owner Jason McCarthy. “We brought back the old captain’s chairs, and we’ve got banquettes and booths, nooks and crannies.”

The traditional mac and cheese skillet from The Place. (Lizz Schumer/Special to The News)

The traditional mac and cheese skillet from The Place. (Lizz Schumer/Special to The News)

[Read a Starters post on The Place]

The food menu keeps favorites like macaroni and cheese ($10-$13) and the Flynnie’s Thinnie ham and Swiss on rye sandwich ($9). Added are items like a pork schnitzel ($15) and a vegetarian mushroom-lentil pot pie ($13)

The plan is to be open for dinner seven days a week, 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, McCarthy said. Lunch service is planned after the staff gets used to the routine.

Among the compliments he’s gotten since the changes, perhaps the most common one was how much it’s stayed the same, McCarthy said: “You maintained the character of The Place.”

Send restaurant news to agalarneau@buffnews.com

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