Food Editor Andrew Z. Galarneau took questions from readers last week, on topics ranging from what the local restaurant scene lacks to what the next big thing will be. The following is an edited transcript.
Q: We got tacos and we’re getting ice cream. What do you think we’ve got enough of, and what does Western New York need?
A: We need more New England-style seafood shacks specializing in big plates of fried seafood at family friendly prices. (Hayes kind of gets there but it’s a bit of a haul out to Clarence.)
I’d love to see us fill out our international roster with Portuguese cuisine, Turkish food and a first-class Arab restaurant featuring freshly baked pita bread. Malaysian curries and soups. More vegan fast food. A falafel place that ends my search for falafel places. Barbecued brisket beyond Toutant. Xiao long bao, Shanghaiese soup dumplings. Oh I could go on.
Gaps being filled: serious yakitori is coming to town, or so I hear.
Q: Yesterday, a friend asked me if I knew of any turnkey restaurant properties for rent. He is ready to roll. I mentioned Fera’s on Franklin Street which (the owner) just moved from and might be available. Any other suggestions?
A: Depends on where they want to be, of course, but two that come to mind immediately are in Amherst. The former Tabree on Main Street, Snyder, and the former Burger King on Sheridan Drive. Former Porter’s Pub in Tonawanda is another. In the city? Former Erbert & Gerbert’s and Hero Burger on Elmwood come to mind.
I might be unclear on the definition of “turnkey” – Does that mean with all appliances? I know those places all held previously permitted kitchens, so they should have the infrastructure.
Q: Your opinion of the best steak sub in Buffalo area?
A: I am partial to the Spicy Dragon at Jonny C’s on Transit Road in East Amherst.
Q: What do you predict will be the newest food trends, and do trends in Western New York differ from larger markets?
A: It’s commonly said that trends get to Buffalo five years after other places, but I think the internet and food TV is shortening the lag. Poke has arrived, and Third Wave coffee. The so-called fading of fine dining could be next.
I have definitely heard a turning away from fine, or even upscale, concepts in favor of casual and fast casual when talking to restaurateurs and prospective restaurateurs.
Q: I like Toutant because it’s a nice place with great food, but a non-foodie like me can identify most of the items on the menu. What other restaurants offer this combination of familiar but excellent food?
A: I can’t say all of these places have Toutant’s housemade ethos and attention to detail. But places that come to mind include Tappo, Niagara Cafe, Cafe 59 …
Outside the city, I hope you know Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora, and Grange Community Kitchen and Carte Blanche in Hamburg.
Q: Where are the best/most authentic tacos al pastor?
Q: What about the whole pop-up dining concept?
A: I dig pop-ups, as a way to make unique meals happen. Shout-out to Midnight Mass #716, the cream of the pop-up crop, for sure, running for years under the good graces of Ellen and Steven Gedra, still giving its faithful remarkable meals delivered by chefs who get to cook what they really want to cook, just this once.
Q: What’s your favorite generic chain and why?
A: Chipotle. Carnitas bowl, cilantro-lime brown rice, pico, corn salsa, tomatillo salsa, fajita vegetables, cheese. Every. Single. Time.