Buffalo's biannual week dedicated to local restaurants is back again, as Local Restaurant Week runs April 16-22 at more than 200 eateries across the area.
News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau laid the framework and provided useful links here, while Refresh Editor Scott Scanlon took the health-conscious approach, for which I'm grateful - I don't feel as obligated to include rabbit food now.
One twist to this list of 10 meals is there's no restaurant repetition from the fall 2017 suggestions. The Buffalo area is blessed with a wonderful variety of cuisines and concepts, so why not spread the love? (Not "BuffaLove," as I'm philosophically opposed to that term. Go ahead, call me a Debbie Downer.).
Our choice: Black Iron encourages community with its two-entrees-for-$40.18 special, which includes an appetizer to share. With all due respect to escargot, the jerk shrimp nachos (with black bean con queso and blue corn tortilla) sounds like a no-brainer for the appetizer and, spoiled with a choice of two entrees, we'd hit the chicken and waffles (chicken thigh, lemon-ricotta waffle and spicy maple syrup) and the scallops, served with polenta frites, greens and tomato jam.
Read Elizabeth Carey's interview with Black Iron Bystro owner-chef Bryan Mecozzi, below.
Our choice: Opening late in 2017, D-Tour prides itself on martinis but also slips in an interesting food menu. If we were to choose the three-course Local Restaurant Week special, we'd try the buffalo meatballs - sourced from local bison, which does exist - with marinara sauce, port and crispy shallots and garlic, although the broccoli rabe salad sounds Refresh-friendly.
For the main course, the dry-aged pork chop with Japanese sweet potato, mustard greens, bacon and chile-apple compound butter sounds big on flavor and a dish that would be hard to duplicate at home. Sealing the deal is a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream - simple but delicious.
Look at the new bar-restaurant's regular menu.
Our choice: Amherst's Kyoto should satisfy different desires during Restaurant Week, as eaters can embark on a sushi frenzy, dine like Japanese royalty or mix and match hibachi and sushi.
We'd start with a spicy crunchy tuna roll, then give a nod to the emperor by choosing lobster tail and steak for our hibachi. How long would the emperor be able to tolerate the sake squirt bottle? Bet you've never considered that question.
Our choice: Credit Gypsy for an outside-the-box Local Restaurant Week special menu. Start with a pastelillo - a Puerto Rican fried pocket stuffed with either chicken, cheese or vegetables - then advance to the West Side Cheesesteak (peppered pub steak, peppers and onions, cheddar and steak sauce on Luigi's bread, served with french fries) for comfort-food heaven.
Finish the meal with a drink - like Gypsy Juice, which goes down dangerously smooth - or papanasi, a Romanian doughnut with cottage cheese, fruit preserves, almonds and powdered sugar.
Read more: Gypsy Parlor's brunch game.
Our choice: My Tomato Pie caught our attention for a few reasons; the first is a Friday-only deal where two eaters can each enjoy a fish fry for a total of $20.18. It runs 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. April 20, satisfying those who get the late-night fish urge or who miss Lenten sacrifice.
If you're the type to avoid the risk of reservations or restaurants swarmed with Local Restaurant Week fans, a lunch trip to Amherst for two side salads and one large specialty pizza for $20.18 might be an underrated option.
From the list of specialty pizzas - page 6 of this PDF - we're torn between Antonio (white pizza topped with steak, caramelized onions, sweet peppers and mozzarella) and Cruciano (red sauce, breaded chicken, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella and Romano), coincidentally also a fantastic plot line for Italian theater.
Read Andrew Galarneau's dining review from 2016.
Our choice: Restaurant Week can be a smart time to test out a fine-dining restaurant, and Rick's on Main is one of the Southtowns' finest white-tablecloth establishments.
As Galarneau noted in this review, Rick's starred when it came to steak, so the grilled New York strip steak ($30.18, with garlic and herb compound butter, garlic mashed potatoes and house vegetables) or the grilled beef tenderloin medallions and three prawns ($40.18, with brandy peppercorn compound butter, potato croquettes and house vegetables) stand out.
Entrees come with rolls and butter, as well as a choice between a Caesar salad, field greens salad or the soup of the day.
Browse Sharon Cantillon's photos from inside Rick's on Main.
Our choice: Here's a Local Restaurant Week menu where several choices sound smart. For variety's sake, we'd start with the pulled pork poutine (slow-smoked pulled barbecue pork and cheddar cheese over french fries), then move on to a lighter entree - the scallops and risotto, with seared scallops, lemon risotto, roasted tomatoes and baby arugula.
The flashy dessert is the Sweet Banana and Strawberry Mess, a sweet concoction of vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, fresh bananas and strawberries topped with housemade whipped cream. But you can always take the (mini) cannoli instead.
Our choice: Is it OK if the dessert is the highlight? It might be at Shango. Start with the light spring greens salad, but then let the Main Street Cajun/Creole restaurant do what it does best, exemplified in the penne dinner, with shrimp, bay scallops, andouille, peppers and onions, in a Cajun cream sauce. Braised pork osso buco is not a bad choice for the entree either, especially if you're a bit adventurous.
But, oh, boy, the dessert. The pumpkin chocolate chip bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce sounds life-altering, leaving the fried apple pie in the dust, in our minds.
Our choice: A fine-dining, riverfront restaurant inside a hotel makes the list? Sure, why not? Parkway Prime in the DoubleTree has trotted out an elegant menu with interesting options.
For the first dinner course, we'd choose the shrimp tostada (poached shrimp, black beans, white cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos and chipotle cream on a fried tortilla) - with apologies to the stuffed avocado with "Boom Boom Sauce" - then continue with a crispy Southern salad (romaine, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onion, corn salsa, black beans, tortilla straws with a chipotle cheddar dressing).
A smart entree selection would be the Smoker's Plate, which includes house-smoked brisket and a quarter chicken, jicama slaw, avocado and grilled corn on the cob. (Points docked for spelling "chipotle" as "chipolte" on their menu. Major food pet-peeve.).
Learn more: Parkway Prime was a vendor at Niagara Falls Arts and Cultural Center's Art of Beer, from which you can see Smiles here.
Our choice: The brilliance of a buffet is that you're not limited to a dining itinerary. Snag a few pieces of fresh Tandoori naan accompanied by raita (a refreshing dip with yogurt, cucumber and mint) for your first plate, then split your second between heaps of chicken biryani and chicken makhani (butter chicken) over basmati rice.
For a sweet ending, pop one gulab jamun (a delightfully sweet and syrupy fried milk-based ball) and close with a little kheer (Indian rice pudding). There's no shame in foregoing the third plate, but hey, it's a buffet.
Read more: Andrew Galarneau dabbled in Spices of India in 2013.