By Andrew Z. Galarneau
When ordinarily taciturn eater aquaintances rave about a new place, I listen. When three or four mention the same place, I make sure it's on my review list.
The toll of people reporting having their minds blown at Martin Cooks on Connecticut Street has gotten to double digits. So if you value your mental equilibrium, I would recommend that you stay away from 346 Connecticut St., and not call 259-9306 to inquire about the menu.
Subjects reported symptoms of disassociation, including persistent thoughts of "How can I be eating this in Buffalo on a street that I previously associated with having my car broken into?" and "There must be a trick because the menu said this was eight dollars."
As is often the case, Ben Tsujimoto has the complete story on what veteran chef Martin Danilowicz and former The Eights proprietor Amelia Nussbaumer have happening, a counter-service, open kitchen, ingredient-driven dining thing that's been a hit in zip codes with much higher rents. (Buffalo Rising was first to profile Martin Cooks in April.)
Dinner is prix fixe, $55 for 5 courses. Which last night were to be:
Chicken & waffles, cherries
Roast peach, Manchego
Grilled chicken, cornbread puree, greens, Paula's BBQ
Feta, honey, porcini & blueberry
Strawberry rhubarb shortcake
With wine pairings, $80, probably before tax or tip.
It's a la carte lunch, $8-$12. I had bolognese and it was real bolognese, deep long-simmered flavor with almost no tomato, and there was a huge tender pork spare rib with Asian rice and a poached egg.
But then there was this:
... being a crispy quinoa cake over bright marinara with arugula and popcorn sprout salad ($10), a vegetarian dish. The cakes were weirdly light yet hearty in their essence, between cool crunchy salad and fruity tomatoes.
Cooks who can make you happy with quinoa are capable of anything. Watch out for these people.