What can one say about eating their way through Buffalo in 2014? While not everything we tried was good, the vast majority was – we do try to avoid places we’re pretty sure we won’t like. This year has probably seen the biggest restaurant boom in a 100 years. The number of good restaurant options and impressive dishes we can’t stop thinking about that were available in 2014 is exciting.
Maybe you can tell we love food. We based this list simply on memorability- taste, creativity…the impact it made on our brains, and stomachs. The dishes we’re sitting here talking about a year later, mouths watering. In truth we could go on and on. Maybe we should do this monthly? It’s a good time to be in Buffalo.
Here are our favorite dishes of 2014 (grandma’s not included).
Frog Legs, $ can’t remember/doesn’t matter/not expensive/worth it
While the frog legs weren’t from our reviewed meal at Black Iron Bystro, they were by far the most interesting thing I’ve encountered on their special menu. Let me say this, I’ve had frog legs before and I’ve had frog legs after and none were executed as flawlessly as these. Paired with lemon ricotta and a sprinkle of capers and corn, the legs were exceptional. If these were on the standard menu, I’d visit even more often with them in mind.
*The Farmhouse Frites are addicting – I don’t care if truffle is out. Try them NOW.
Chanterelle Mushroom Tartine, $14
Brioche covered with mushrooms in a walla walla onion cream topped with the freshest farm egg you’ve ever seen. This is so rich you actually feel rich after eating it. Which is to say you feel great. It’s that rich. The combination of dessert bread and cream coated mushroom tops under runny yolk is kind of legendary.
*This dish is from a meal other than our initial review linked here.
Slow Cooked Beef on Weck, $11
Slow cooked Beef Short Ribs with gravy (fries on the side) on weck. Sure, it sounds so simple. I plan to do it at my next party and tell people it’s my invention. But it was just so good…
Porchetta Sandwich, $7
Very few things on earth are better than a well-made Porchetta. Throw it on a good bun with arugula and you get a sandwich made for the gods. Speaking of, thank god for food trucks posting pictures on social media which is how I was alerted of this mid-summer special.
Eggs & Potatoes, $10
Painted Meadow wine poached egg, roasted potatoes, Flat #12 mushrooms, miso broth, pesto, pickled ramps. Fresh, perfectly prepared ingredients listed above taken to a new level. Does food/anything get any better than this?
Lamb Burger, $9.50
Fresh ground lamb with cumin and coriander, topped with feta cheese, pickled cucumbers, carrots and red onions. When I think of this paired with the Ommegang’s Game of Thrones Fire & Blood it brings a tear to my eye.
Beef On Weck Roll, $13
Rice wrapped in beef carpaccio, stuffed with medium rare strip steak, topped with house-made horseradish mayo, sea salt and caraway seeds. I’ll say it again – this roll alone is worth a trip to Seabar.
#8 Banh Xeo, $9.95
Vietnamese pancakes. These savory fried pancakes, some call them crepes, are made with rice batter and wrapped around bean sprouts, pork, prawns and shallots. A little light fish sauce and some bean sprouts pickled, cucumber, carrot strips and greens on the side – it’s just so different, like a pancake salad – love it.
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Venison Sausage, $14
Just the right seasoning gives this venison sausage a great depth of flavor. Sliced and served on a bed of braised red cabbage, the combination is old world perfection.
These are sweet plantains served with some kind of spicy vinegary side sauce. The sweet and sour mix is heaven. Three bucks? Where do I sign up for a daily delivery?
Pulled Pork Open ‘Rogi, $6
A deconstructed pierogi made of field greens, carrot and radish slaw topped with meystard-braised pulled pork pierogi filling and served with dill vinaigrette. The distinct dill flavor paired with the crunch of finely diced slaw parts and moist pork is my kind of “salad”.
Paccheri with Boar Ragu, $18
The house-made paccheri (large tube pasta) is simply dressed with a tomato based wild boar sauce and perfectly highlighted with cracked green olives. This is why the whole world loves Italian cuisine.
Beer Battered Stuffed Peppers, $7.25
While the deep fried part sounded a bit over-the-top on the menu, it turns out it was right on. Perfectly battered and fried, the light crispy shell holds everything together and sets them apart from others around town. These are some of the best we’ve had in WNY.
The Korean Kalbi Beef Steamed Bun with Mild KimChee, Siracha Mayo, $10
I’m no steamed bun expert, but these are something I can’t say I’ve had elsewhere in Buffalo. The combination of bun, beef, kimchee, Sriracha mayo, jalapeños and cilantro transported me to what felt like a different world. I’ll tell you one thing – it didn’t feel like Buffalo, but I’m so glad it was.
Rainbow Trout, $20
This whole roasted trout comes with gilled pear salad and Manchego cheese and looks and tastes like it was caught down the road only to be cooked up minutes later and served to our table minutes later. It’s simplicity and seemingly limited preparation makes it a home run for people who like to enjoy the actual flavor of seafood.
Smoked Corn & Pickled Pork Arancini with Roasted Jalapeño Crema, $4
This unique spin on an Italian side was infused with a smoky flavor from the corn, a hint of heat by the peppery crema and pickled pork(!) producing flavors I never saw coming from a crispy ball of rice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, say yes to BMFT arancini no matter what the hell they’re putting in/on.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, $7
Considered by many as the best dessert in Buffalo. This sticky toffee pudding is sinfully good. The description “English date cake, whipped cream” doesn’t do it any favors, but trust me if you order this gooey, creamy, sweet bowl of heaven and hell you won’t be sorry. Cue eyes rolling to the back of my head.
Pork Burrito, ~$7
LLoyd Taco Truck (any)
I know everyone wants their burrito the way they want it, but here’s the thing, you should get it the way I want it instead. Get pork or beef (way more flavor here than chicken), rice, beans – the whole nine. Then add crema, pickled reds, lime and cilantro and order it medium. Ordering it medium is very important because it makes the whole thing saucier and elevates the flavor even more. And don’t you dare kick one ingredient off that burrito, cabbage included. It’s perfect. It’s also been called “bad ass” by one of my favorite Lloyd employees.
Cold Noodle Bowl, ~$12
Thick udon noodles. Vinaigrette. Spring veggies. Chashu pork. Bean Sprouts. A cold bowl of noodles never sounded so good. This beautifully slippery, summer dish was super satisfying on a hot day in Elmwood Village.
Plate of Pickles, $7
Pickled kraut, beets, green beans, delaware grapes, carrots, leeks, squash, cucumber, turnip and more. You name it, Elm Street pickled it and put it on this plate. Eating my way through this dish was more fun than I’d like to admit. It embodies my favorite food trend of 2014.
*From a meal other than our initial review linked here.
Short Round Link, $8
Fresh, housemade Korean Short Rib Sausage, kimchi, sambai and pickled vegetables. Satisfying, interesting, flavorful. Everything I love on a bun.
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