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Food & Drink

Food & Drink: Sampling the new hotness in nearby Cleveland

At Lin Restaurant, a fine introduction to Burmese cuisine: While Burmese cuisine is Buffalo's hidden specialty, with 15 places serving it, my favorite place in Riverside is often empty. Here's why I think you should try the Burmese and Thai offerings at Lin Restaurant.

Given that an annual or semi-annual road trip to Cleveland is practically a Buffalo tradition, I figured I'd scout out some of the outstanding places that have appeared in the last two years.
Places like Flour and L'Albatros for Italian, Momocho's modern Mexican, Greenhouse Tavern and Flying Fig for farm-to-table, and Mabel's BBQ, from Iron Chef Michael Symon, are all still due best-in-show honors. Sokolowski's (Polish cafeteria), Balaton (Hungarian), and Slyman's (old-school piled-high deli) are still Cleveland mainstays.
I come to praise the mid-market newcomers, like Salt+, whose small-plates ethos challenges the "big food is best" paradigm; Larder, where the Japanese mold that makes sake is used to craft crazy-good pastrami; and Dinerbar on Clifton, which has crafted a drinks place onto a fast and flavorsome Greek breakfast joint.
Check out the rundown here. Bonus: checking out the closest Shanghaiese soup dumplings (xiao long bao) to Buffalo available without a passport.
Related: In 2013, exploring what Buffalo's new restaurant wave can learn from the Cleveland scene.
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DINING REVIEW
Next week: While upgraded tavern menus are all the rage with restaurateurs, Winfield's Pub nails it by out-hustling the field, using local ingredients and a huge proportion of housemade ingredients for plates that soar in the sub-$20 space.
CANADIAN CHALET
Just because I've always found Swiss Chalet's Holy Trinity of rotisserie chicken, fries and dipping sauce shrug-worthy doesn't mean I can't appreciate how much the stuff means to people. So when news came that an outlet is opening next year just a mile across the Peace Bridge, it was time to take stock of an international love story so deep that devotees are drinking more than the Kool-Aid.
HOT DISH
Most of the meatballs I'd care to get reacquainted with are Italianesque, but at This Little Pig, chef-owner and smokehound Jeff Cooke not only runs his prizewinning pork orbs through the smoker, he starts with house-smoked bacon as an ingredient.
RESTAURANT NEWS
The new $1.3 million, two-story addition to Charlie's Boat House will be open for Memorial Day weekend. Two-hour waits for tables are expected to be history in the doubled space, but don't expect clear sailing either.
In Game of Thrones terms, when Hofbrauhaus Buffalo was first announced, Tommen of House Baratheon was crowned King of the Seven Kingdoms. Five years later, an official opening date has been offered, prompting widespread scoffing. The suspense in Buffalo will last until August, at least.
Grateful Grind has opened up its coffee-and-sandwiches cafe in the Chestnut Ridge Park lodge in Orchard Park, with the official grand opening set for today.
The Blue Lantern Lounge, a classy little spot in Elma, is up for sale. Donna and Tom Pease are asking for a smidge under $700,000 for the restaurant they opened in 2005.
Defying the laws of economics, a former Burger King on Sheridan Drive is going to become the seventh Mighty Taco location in Amherst.
Food truck Cheesy Chick will be opening Cheesy Chick Cafe, a brick-and-mortar outpost in Williamsville, where Apple Wood Cafe last served.
IS YOUR FEST LISTED?
There are too many summer festivals to keep track of them all. Leave it to the professionals. Here's how to make sure your group's event is included in our Summer Festival Guide.
MORE RESTAURANT INTEL
Known on Facebook for its owner's community-minded spirit, Aunt Robin's Diner also makes an inexpensive breakfast that hits the spot, too.
Chicken, gyro, and white sauce make the backbone of a solid platter at Halal Guys' new Amherst location, franchise No. 298 inspired by the Manhattan street meat cart.
A couple of Tim Hortons locations found out that it's not a smart idea to offer mothers free coffee on Mother's Day and then greet them with: Oh, did you not read the fine print?
SUNDAY SUPPER
What does J.T. Nicholson, executive chef of top-flight steakhouse Sear, cook when he's showing off for friends? Find out May 26 at the latest edition of Sunday Supper at The Black Sheep, when Steven and Ellen Gedra bring in a guest star for the evening.
Here's where to get tickets. Looking at a menu with, among many other items, Grandma Nicholson's Chicken & Dumplings as a first course, Fried Pork Chops and Gravy as a second, and Mason Jar Banana Pudding for dessert, $69.81 including tax and tip looks like a steal.
Email theflock@blacksheepbuffalo.com for more information.
WHAT I'M WATCHING
If you've ever pondered what it takes for meat to sell for less than vegetables, and milk to rival water in price, you might be interested in watching "Right to Harm." It's a film on communities that are paying the price of cheap meat, milk, and eggs by being unable to fight the environmental costs of factory farms on their air, water, and real estate values.
READERS ASK
Q: This week, two more Mexican restaurants were reported to be opening in Amherst. I have nothing against Mexican food. I love Las Puertas. Tacos and burritos, not so much, but they’re OK once in a while.
I really miss the Spanish food at Aro Bar de Tapas and the Portuguese at Bica e Vinho in East Aurora. We recently went to a Latin American food and wine dinner at The Dove, an Italian restaurant, in Orchard Park. It was excellent, and seemed to be sold out.
A: I've been wondering myself why the area can seemingly support countless Mexican restaurants, but almost none of the other Hispanic and Latino cuisines. (A few Puerto Rican places help, but there's so much more.) I don't have an answer, other than to wonder what I could do to get more Spaniards to move to Buffalo.
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Restaurant tips or suggestions gratefully received at agalarneau@buffnews.com.

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