In the homeland of the Buffalo-style chicken wing, restaurant cooks long ago discovered that there is no surer path to customer satisfaction than delivering a plate of deep-fried morsels.
Cauliflower, however, is a relative newcomer. When the pale plant has met its end in the depths of a Frialator, it has usually been coated in batter first.
Not at Brioso, where the “coliflor frito” is an all-star appetizer at a restaurant aiming at “contemporary American with Southwestern flair.”
The $10 platter of spicy, smoky cauliflower festooned with pistachios is “one of our best sellers,” said chef Matthew Robare. “When people have it for the first time, they come back for it.” Although it is listed as a “Southwestern favorites” appetizer, returning customers have asked for it to be their vegetable side with some entrees.
Cooks take an entire head of cauliflower and cut it down into small rosettes. It’s washed and tossed with salt and pepper. There is no flour or anything, Robare said, making it suitable for people avoiding gluten. “It’s straight from the stem to the fryer,” he said.
The smoky-sweet-spicy coating is a honey-chipotle sauce. Brioso cooks make it from canned chipotle peppers in adobo, garlic, honey and a few other things. Since chipotles are smoked jalapenos, it reminds eaters of bacon without using any meat.
The coated cauliflower gets a handful of chopped pistachios, unsalted because there’s plenty of salt otherwise, and the cauliflower is ready to go. It’s served with a ramekin of the chipotle honey, for dunking. The sauce has achieved its own popularity at Brioso, Robare said, with some customers asking for it on the side with burgers and such.
Robare, who joined Brioso earlier this year, said even he found himself converted. “I did not like cauliflower prior to this,” he said. “We have found a way to make cauliflower tolerable, that’s for sure.”
Info: Brioso, 5195 Main St., Williamsville (828-8370, briosowny.com).