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Restaurant Notes: The Black Sheep at James Beard House, Jake’s Cafe, Cuba Rosa

Steven and Ellen Gedra, the husband-and-wife team behind The Black Sheep, are the latest Buffalo restaurant talents invited to serve dinner at Manhattan’s James Beard House.

On Oct. 8, the Gedras and their team will present “Tavern Supper” in the 70-seat space, at 167 W. 12th St. Operated by the James Beard Foundation, the famed chef’s former townhouse is a culinary showcase that supports the foundation’s mission of celebrating American regional cuisine.

Adam Goetz of Craving offered dinner there last year. Edward Forster and Jon Karel led a Buffalo Proper dinner in June. “If it becomes a regular thing for Buffalo chefs to go to Beard, then I think we really took a step forward, toward being nationally recognized as a food destination,” Steven Gedra said.

The menu has its roots in Western New York farms, with 20-month-old prosciutto Gedra made from a T-Meadow pig raised in Lockport. He serves it with melon, melon jam and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Then there’s the barbecued pork nuggets with housemade ranch dressing, and most daringly, pig heart tartare, served with quail egg and preserved chive blossoms. “It’s crazy, it’s adventurous, it’s a microcosm of what we do,” Gedra said.

The Black Sheep celebrates local vegetables with Gedra’s kohlrabi with yogurt and dukkah, a crunchy North African herb-nut-spice mixture. Confited cabbage in beet broth is joined by fermented tea leaves, the signature ingredient in Burmese tea leaf salad. Gedra wanted to link to the ways the Burmese are becoming part of Buffalo.

“I think it represents the new Buffalo,” said Gedra. “They’re our workforce. I have Burmese guys that kick (expletive), and we all love Burmese food now, which is kind of crazy because we didn’t know what it was four years ago.”

Ellen’s sticky toffee pudding, a perennial contender in Buffalo’s-best-desserts arguments, will be presented, with poached seckel pear, as well as beet mousse with honey nougat and one more Buffalo shout-out: Honey Nut Cheerios crème anglaise.

This is a big deal for the Gedras, who returned to Buffalo in 2009 and took over Bistro Europa on Elmwood Avenue. They built a passionate following that followed them to The Black Sheep, 367 Connecticut St., which they opened in 2014.

“Ellen’s pumped, and we’re super excited,” he said. “The support we’ve gotten in this community since the dinner was announced is insane. A lot of my friends have kids now, it’s not easy to pick up and go to New York in October for the weekend, just to have dinner. And a lot of people are.”

Tickets, $175 (or $135 for James Beard Foundation members), are available through jamesbeard.org/events/tavern-supper-2.

Delaware cafe: Jake’s Café, a breakfast and lunch spot with grab-and-go offerings and a short-order griddle, started serving last week in the lobby of the soon-to-open Westin Buffalo hotel at 250 Delaware Ave.

The 20-seat spot is open for breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Morning offerings include cinnamon brioche French toast with apple slaw and crème fraiche ($5.50), egg sandwich on a Kaiser roll ($6) and three-filling omelets ($7.50). Coffee options include cappuccino and espresso ($2-$3.75).

Lunch offerings from the griddle include a smashburger-style cheeseburger on a potato bun ($6.50), and a cheddar-fontina grilled cheese sandwich ($5.50).

Ready-to-buy smoothies, packaged salads and sandwiches are available, as well. Patio and courtyard seating is available, in season.

The hotel is expected to open mid-September. Patina 250, its Italian restaurant, will follow this fall.

New Cuban downtown: A new Cuban restaurant opened up a week ago in the Theater District, where The District last had the lights on.

Cuba Rosa, 454 Pearl St., is a small family restaurant that wants to eventually add a big martini menu. At present, it offers a basic lineup of Cuban dishes, and a few curveballs, for lunch and dinner six days a week. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday. Phone: 936-6969.

Manager Max Geldres said that owner Rosa Correa Piloto hails from Cuba, specifically Pinar del Rio, on the western side of the Caribbean island.

Once Cuba Rosa gets its liquor license, 30 types of martinis will be on offer, Geldres said, plus Cuban standards like Cuba libres and mojitos. In the meantime, the restaurant is offering a limited selection from its menu.

In its current state, the Cuba Rosa menu lists lots of dishes the restaurant doesn’t actually offer yet. So check out the menu at cubarosabarrestaurant.com, then when you sit down, ask what’s good today.

Appetizers include ham and cheese empanadas ($7/2) and fried pork with plantains ($9). Sandwiches include a hamless Cubano ($9) and a media noche sub, with ham, roast pork and pickles ($10).

Classic Cuban plates include ropa vieja (“old clothes”), beef stewed till tender and shredded, accented with green olives ($12). Roast pork is available in several plate configurations, including the “opcion tres,” with black beans cooked with rice, french fries and a salad ($16). (See dish photographs and my first impressions at Buffalo.com.)

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com

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