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Restaurant notes: Dining Out for Life, Lait Cru at Lockhouse

More than 90 restaurants will donate part of their evening’s proceeds for local AIDS programs Oct. 10, the 15th edition of Dining Out for Life.

All participants need to do is eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at a participating venue. These restaurants will send from 25 to 100 percent of their evening's food bills to the charity. In its first 14 editions, the event has so far raised $1.2 million for local services for people with AIDS or HIV. Last year's event raised $131,000.

As last year, honorary chairs are Ellen and Steven Gedra of The Black Sheep, and KeyBank will match donations up to $10,000. Lyft is also offering a 20 percent discount on rides with the code DINEOUTWNY.

Chef’s, Mr Bill’s, Lebro’s and Cecelia’s have participated to Dining Out for Life all 15 years.

New restaurants for 2017 are Casa Azul, Colter Bay, The Dapper Goose, Deep South Taco, Falley Allen, Gigi’s Cucina Povera, JT’s Urban Italian, Macky’s Essex Street Pub, MTK Buffalo, Remedy House, Roost, Ru’s Pierogi, Sear, Schnitzel & Co. and William K’s.

Most restaurants participating will donate 25 percent of food receipts, but some will donate more.

Donating 100 percent: ECC North Campus Statler’s Erie Room.

Donating 50 percent: The Black Sheep, Cecilia’s, Fat Bob’s, Merge, ECC City Campus EM Statler Dining Room, Craving, Ristorante Lombardo.

Donating 33 percent: Coco’s Bar & Bistro, Cole’s, Lenox Grill, Remedy House, Osteria 166, Public Espresso at Hotel @ the Lafayette, Jovi’s, Forte.

Go to diningoutforlife.com/wny for the complete list.

Mac and cheese and booze: West Side French specialist Lait Cru Brasserie has started offering sandwiches and salads in the Cobblestone District's Lockhouse Distillery.

Sandwiches like a grilled cheese made with Belletoile brie and roasted fennel, with orange-onion jam, are $11, with potato chips or salad.

Nickel City Cheese mac and cheese, celebrated for its high-end ingredients from its sister company, a cheese shop, comes in at $8.

The menu will be available with the full bar at Lockhouse Distillery, 41 Columbia St.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday, open for Sabres games and events. Closed Monday.

At Lait Cru Brasserie, big flavors from small menu

Amherst Asian supermarket: A sprawling Asian supermarket stretching across half of a former Walmart opens Thursday, offering everything from 50 kinds of rice and live fish to a $12,000 tea desk.

Rockey Ren says the covers come off the stone lions out front of Asia Food Market at noon Thursday, opening the store under their mystical protection, as per the Chinese custom.

While Asian ingredients, produce and packaged goods are available at smaller stores, the supermarket at 2055 Niagara Falls Blvd. gathers a vast array under one roof, next to a massive parking lot, and adds items unavailable elsewhere.

Ren, a native of China's Fujian province, has similar stores in Rochester and Syracuse.

The stone lions will be uncovered at noon Sept. 21. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Vegetables, dairy products, meat and more will make Asia Food Market much like a regular supermarket, except one where the Asian aisle never ends.

The market's produce and dairy section was yet to be filled on Sept. 19. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Shoppers will be able to pick out a black bass and have the fishmonger clean it for them on the spot, at about $8 a pound before cleaning. Dungeness crabs (about $12 a pound) and other live seafood bob in long rows of plastic tanks.

Black bass, cleaned to order, are part of the live seafood offerings. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Scores of teas, 52 kinds of rice and 10 kinds of coconut milk are just the beginning.

Ren plans to add a bakery and Chinese barbecue counter to the store, but probably not until next year. There are more projects coming to the dark side of the former Walmart, including a food court.

Owner Rockey Ren has plans for the rest of the former Walmart, including a food court. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Furniture and home goods, beauty products and cosmetics, each have their own sections. The furniture includes a tea desk set, which runs about $12,000, including chairs. A digital voice announces when the water is boiling, a discreet drain whisks away overpours, and there's a built-in sanitizer.

Plans for the store have been under way for about five years, Ren said. A deal for a previous property fell through, but the former Walmart was right for the project.

When Asian people come to his store, "they can feel like they are in their own country," he said.

Asia Food Market opens Sept. 21 in Amherst. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com and follow @BuffaloFood on Instagram and Twitter.

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