Dropped by Buffalo Proper last night to get my first taste of the new menu by Edward Forster, whose cooking impressed me at the late Mike A's at the Lafayette. Tried a few of his dishes, and drinks designed by Jon Karel. Left impressed, anew.
It's too soon for a full review, but here's some first glimpses. We tried the Ginger Baker and Blinker cocktails ($10), which were delicious sippers, the first provocatively zingy with lime juice and ginger-jalapeno syrup, the second reminding me of a tastier Manhattan laced with pleasant grapefruit tang.
The eats menu is focused [see it at bottom of page], starting with six small and three medium-sized plates. Main dishes include one chicken, one fish and two beef options, plus specials.
The bruleed canteloupe tartine was slices of melon that had been cured in pastrami fashion, laid over house-made ricotta, shaved onion and radish, and peppery greens on a toasted piece of Breadhive bread ($8). The salt and spice infused melon was unexpectedly sympatico with the other ingredients, making me wonder what other surprises Forster could deliver.
The corn soup was a disc of huitlacoche (corn fungus) custard, cotija cheese, citrus tapioca pearls, fresh corn salad and dabs of spicy mayonnaise in a bowl ($9). A carafe of steaming corn broth was poured over it, hiding the details and melting the custard.
It was delicious and refined. Like the canteloupe tartine, it was strongly anchored in season.
After considering the braised pork (raised at T-Meadow Farm), I chose the chop instead ($28). It arrived defiantly pink inside its crusty exterior, rimmed with crispy fat, just like I like my pork chops. The husky flavor of heirloom-breed hog shone through. Its accompaniment of kohlrabi kraut and barley was earthy, with the kraut providing welcome acid. Pork jus moistening the ensemble was mop-worthy.
But the chicken, pictured as the featured image at the top, was a show-stopper. The bird came from Oles Farm in Alden, like much of the produce on the menu. Its skin crisped in a pan, the bird oozed juice with every cut.
Dabs of rocket (arugula) puree livened up the proceedings with bitter-green notes. It rested on a bed of fresh corn salad and fingerling potatoes smoked in hay. The potatoes added smoke and a rustic bottom note to an outstanding plate.
It cost $32 for the half chicken (the whole is $58). It was worth it.
Desserts ($8) were blueberry soup, and chocolate mousse. The soup was built on Oles blueberries with a touch of yogurt. It was accented with crunchy almond granola and thyme-lemon sorbet. The fruit-herb-citrus troika was delicately balanced, and the granola's textural contrast kept it interesting till it was gone.
The mousse was accented with ginger cream, adding another angle to the ethereal chocolate foam. The red dots were a beet-based substance, which mainly added color.
I would like to see what else Forster can pull off. As I left, the menu that seemed limited on first glance now demanded exploration.
Further reading: Enjoy Lizz Schumer's cocktail review of The Blinker, a craft cocktail creation of bartender Jon Karel.