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Restaurant notes: OR by Falafel Bar, Fierte, Moriarty Meats

Oded Rauvenpoor, the Israeli chef-owner behind the late, lamented Falafel Bar, is opening a new restaurant on Sheridan Drive.

This time, it's personal.

OR by Falafel Bar will offer more "multi-ethnic dishes with focus on food common to the Middle East region – not just Middle Eastern, but Mediterranean, African style food, with flavors authentic to my roots," Rauvenpoor said. "This is more about my flavors, what I think about the food."

In Hebrew, "or" means light or brilliant, he said.

Rauvenpoor is currently painting the space at 3545 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, formerly Himalayan Kitchen. "We're renovating it, and hope to open in two months," he said.

In addition to favorites from Falafel Bar, he'll do more of an Israeli and Middle Eastern model, he said, with a la carte meats and starches, and lots of little tapas or mezze plates. With an oven called a taboon, similar to the Indian tandoor, OR will offer fresh housemade pita bread.

Shashlik, a skewer of young chicken dark meat marinated in crushed onion and turmeric, will be grilled and served on fresh baked laffa bread. Grilled onion, grilled tomato and sumac finish the plate: "Simple, flavorful and light."

Cauliflower and eggplant will be presented in various forms, and Arab-style desserts, all handmade, he said.

"This one is different. This is about the new road," he said. After 15 years of Falafel Bar, he fell ill, lost his business and saw his marriage end, he said. He returned to his native Israel for a year, "to take care of my body and my mind."

He returned with plans for a restaurant that would better showcase the heart of his cooking. "This one is more of a boutique Israeli establishment," he said. "I want to represent a new start, and merge the old with the new."

Rauvenpoor said he was kicking off the new restaurant with a series of $25 sneak peek dinners, offered to people who respond to a Falafel Bar post on Facebook.

Virginia Place reboot: Good luck trying to pigeonhole Fierte, the new restaurant opening across Virginia Place from Mothers.

The restaurant, in the former Twilight Room space at 26 Virginia Place, will combine aspects of sports bars, craft cocktail enclaves and dance clubs, said owner Brandon Charles Carr. He hopes to be open by Valentine's Day.

"We intend to be a chameleon of everything," Carr said. "That's why we think we're going to be successful, because we don't want to pigeonhole ourselves in any one category."

With a projection screen and two large TVs, "if there's big sporting event we can be like a sports bar," said Carr. "During dinnertime we'll have house cocktails, real high-end stuff, drinks made in New York City like negronis, Manhattans, drinks like that." At night, a DJ will offer music, with areas for dancing.

Carr, who described himself as an entrepreneur, said it was his first restaurant. Extensive renovations have introduced new plumbing, sinks, and chandeliers, he said. "We're transforming the place while keeping the original brick and wood."

Its food menu will be "comfort food gourmet," he said, built on panini sandwiches, versions of Hot Pocket and Toaster Strudel-like eats, and ramen. Not the Japanese-style broth with chewy pasta, but the instant noodles familiar to college students.

The restaurant's chef will offer elevated versions, like cheese and sriracha hot sauce, peanut butter and broccoli, and Cincinnati chili style.

"It's types of foods that everybody loves, that are very inexpensive," said Carr, instead of spending an "arm and a leg." The aim is "simple foods served on silver platters, dressed up and nice. Where you can have a meal for under $15 that everyone loves."

In addition to DJs, the restaurant will offer live music, with a jazz and blues night once a week, he said. "We want it to have literally every aspect of every bar it can be. We want it to be right in the middle area."

"We're saying this is an alternative bar."

Meat on Grant: A specialty butcher selling locally raised meat, including French cuts, has opened on Grant Street.

On Saturdays, Moriarty Meats welcomes customers to 23 Grant St., the former Frank Zarcone & Sons store.

Each Saturday, French-trained butcher Thomas Moriarty aims to offer a local animal and other meat, plus freshly made sausage. On Jan. 20, selections will include cuts from a grass-fed steer from Dunkirk's Stand Fast Farms, and white, unsmoked kielbasa.

"The central feature of the week is the local whole animal, and then we fill in the case around that," said Caitlin Moriarty, the butcher's wife. "Whole animal butchery is a lost art that Tom is bringing back to the area in contrast to just boxed meat."

Other offerings include frozen organic chicken and ready-made meals that will change frequently, like pork rillettes, beef bourguignon, pork vindaloo or "Sunday sauce."

"Every week it's going to be a different offering across the board," she said.

The Moriarty difference includes the ability to ask the butcher questions, including getting advice on how to prepare specific cuts, she said.

Hours: Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Closed: Jimmy John's sandwich shop on Elmwood Avenue closed at the end of December.

The restaurant, located in the mixed-use building at 766-770 Elmwood Ave., was the only outpost of the 3,000-store nationwide sandwich chain in Buffalo. It opened in March 2016.

There is a location in Amherst, at 1300 Sweet Home Road.

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