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Restaurant notes: Community Beer Works, Tandoori Hut, Venus

Community Beer Works is expanding its Niagara Falls brewpub project after development partner Savarino Companies bought an adjacent building.

The Buffalo-based craft brewer now expects to open its first full-fledged brewpub on Niagara Street this fall.

In November 2016, Community Beer Works announced plans to turn the former Press Box space at 324 Niagara St. into a brewpub serving beer made on premises and in the company's Buffalo facility. It would be the city's first brewery in more than 75 years.

"When we originally conceived the project, we had one building we were going to use," said Community Beer Works' Ethan Cox. "Being able to spread out across essentially three storefronts makes it much easier, and allows (Savarino) to put apartments above it, which makes the overall project more feasible."

There was one big drawback, though: "It forced us quite literally back to the drawing board."

The Niagara Falls brewpub will still hold about 100 in the dining room and bar, with counter seating for quicker meals. A small three-barrel brewing system will produce about 40 to 50 percent of the house beer, and a full-service restaurant is being designed with Toutant's James Roberts as a consultant.

There's still lots of work to be done, Cox said. The buildings have to be refurbished, then outfitted for commercial and residential use. "I hope to have real construction by March or April," Cox said. "That's admittedly aggressive."

The place will be designed to appeal to locals, and not rely on tourists, said Cox. The current menu sketches center on midcentury comfort food, with family-style casseroles, and dishes like beef Stroganoff and chicken cacciatore.

Don't expect $18 venison burgers. "We want it to be approachable and familiar," Cox said.

Experimental and limited release beers plus plenty of basic core Community Brewing options will be available to drink.

Community Beer Works expands again

Meanwhile, Community Beer Works' new main brewery in Buffalo, at 520 Seventh St., is set for an April opening. Its production facility and barroom at 15 Lafayette St. remains open throughout.


University Heights Indian: A new Indian restaurant opened last month in the University Heights space formerly occupied by Sandwich Envy and Eddie's Chophouse.

Tandoori Hut started serving food Dec. 12, said owner Baljinder "Bob" Singh. The tiny place seats about 20. It's offering a daily lunch buffet ($9.99), a Thursday night dinner buffet ($12.99), and an a la carte menu.

That menu includes a broad selection of pan-Indian favorites. There's tandoori chicken ($10.99) and fish ($14.99), lamb biryani ($13.95) and spicy chicken vindaloo ($12.95).

Snacks include samosa chaat ($5.95), a deep-fried potato-stuffed pastry covered with cubed potatoes, spices and sauces, and gobi Manchurian ($6.95), fried cauliflower in a Chinese-inspired sweet and sour chile sauce.

The buffet at Tandoori Hut, the new University Heights restaurant, is diverse and delicious. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Vegans and vegetarians are particularly well served, with more than 30 vegan or vegetarian dishes on offer, including vegetable byriani ($11.95) with peas, cashews and raisins, and tofu achari ($11.95), soybean curd in pickle sauce.

Its menu also includes 18 types of made-to-order bread, from puffy deep-fried puri ($2.50) to keema naan ($3.95), stuffed with lamb, and peshawari naan ($3.50), with coconut and dried fruit.

A recent visit caught the restaurant in buffet mode for a special party, but I was offered a seat. Fresh naan bread, accented with garlic and cilantro, showed up shortly thereafter.

Fresh-baked naan arrives for every Tandoori Hut buffet customer. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Once the steam table was filled with dishes, I filled my plate and was delighted to find the flavors vibrant, the array diverse and delicious, as in the lead image above. Chicken dishes were tender and fried pakora vegetable fritters were crispy, as they should be, even on a steam table.

The naan offered enjoyable contrast between browned edges and buttery softness. No alcohol is available. A mango lassi ($2.99), or yogurt shake, was tangy, sweet, and intensely fruity, one of the best examples I've tried.

Tandoori Hut stays open late Friday and Saturday, until 2 a.m. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Saturday. Phone: 931-9343.

Tandoori Hut opened in December 2017. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)


Downtown Venus reopens: Venus, the Mediterranean restaurant on Pearl Street, reopened Jan. 2 after an April fire.

The restaurant, 452 Pearl St., is back to offering Greek and Lebanese dishes, plus local favorites like wings and subs.

Beef souvlaki and chicken shawarma sandwiches ($5.59) are menu mainstays. Another popular order is Greek fries ($5.59), steak fries topped with garlic sauce, Greek dressing, tomatoes, onions, and feta cheese.

To celebrate its reopening, the restaurant is offering free Greek fries with any order through Jan. 7, owner Jack Adly said.

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 854-1489.

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