3260 Main St, Buffalo / (716) 837-2326
Price: $$$ / Cuisine: Southern, New Orleans
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 10pm; Friday & Saturday: 5pm – 11pm, Brunch: Sunday: 11am – 3pm, Happy Hour: Monday – Friday: 5pm – 7:30pm
FACEBOOK / RESERVATIONS
Before Toutant there was Shango. Shango New Orleans Bistro and Wine Bar, offering up great home-style, New Orleans inspired, southern cuisine. Shango opened in 2005 replacing the family restaurant Coffee Bean Cafe. It is owned and operated by Chef Jim Guarino who (with his father) recently opened Oshun on E. Huron (Washington/Genesee) downtown.
Shango is the Yoruba god of lightning & thunder (Africa – Caribbean – New Orleans). Oshun, goddess of many things including water, is the principle wife of Shango.
But enough about mythology, food and dining is where the rubber hits the road. As any true bistro should be the atmosphere at Shango is relaxed, the food much more serious. While Toutant has received a lot of attention lately (deservedly so), Shango has been holding down the fort in terms of Southern cuisine here in WNY for years.
Shango is one of my favorite restaurants in WNY. Simple, unassuming, comfortable with great food and a superior beer list. That pretty much pushes all of my buttons. I wish it was open for lunch, closer to my house, and I could order everything on the menu… without over eating (ya, I know).
As mentioned above the inspiration is New Orleans – plenty of seafood, plenty of southern, plenty of good. I’ve heard great things about the po-boys (oyster, catfish and blackened steak ~$14), but have yet to get one. In addition to their regular menu they had a specials menu that offered a cheese plate, oysters, two appetizers and two entrees.
Beyond food they offer excellent selections of beer and wine. The beers on tap were: Sierra Nevada Witbier w/grapefruit, Ithaca Cayuga Cruiser Berliner-style Weisse, Community Beer Works Frank, Southern Tier Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout, Abita Pecan Harvest Ale – WOW! They also have some cool options by the bottle. The wine list offers some great options at various price points, many you won’t find elsewhere.
We stopped in on a Saturday to a good crowd. We had a reservation, which I highly recommend, but they had room for walk-ins. Shango might be easy to miss in an unassuming block across from St. Joseph’s church near UB south. The block will get a little more noticeable when SATO opens their new Ramen joint soon.
You enter into a bar lounge area with the bar in the back and a private room beyond that. The restaurant is set up in an H pattern with most of the dining in the right half. This room is set with tables, booths and one “special” cubby area. Parties over 10 or 12 will likely have to split up because of the way tables are configured.
The place is decorated comfortably with tile floor, wood trim, brick and richly painted walls. The front of the dining room has a windowed garage door and small porch beyond. It was closed during our visit probably due to high temps.
We sat at a booth and dove into a beverage immediately. I tried an Empire IPA and my companion went with a Abita Pecan Harvest Ale ~$6. Both were excellent.
I’ll come right out and say, for two people, we ordered a lot of food. This is strictly for the benefit of our readers. Any pleasure we derive is ancillary.
We started with:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, white rice (cup $4.5, bowl $7.5)
A must. This has big, deep flavor with a very dark rich roux. Almost coffee like is the best way I can think to describe it.
Pan seared Kurobuta Pork Belly – with fennel apple slaw, five pepper jelly, pickled onion $9.
Some of my favorite belly in town – the slaw, onion and jelly take this luscious swine part to a whole new level. I could eat this all day.
Grilled Ahi Tuna Tacos – pickled peppers and onions, Creole mustard slaw, remoulade – $10
Big hunks of tender, rare tuna with a great sauce and fixin’s. Loved it. This could easily be a meal.
Adding to our gluttony our waitress brought out a nice selection of breads.
For our entrees we ordered:
Buttermilk Fried Free Range Chicken with cheddar cheese grits, bacon braised southern greens, Andouille sausage gravy – $20.
I was surprised to find that these were boneless chicken breasts. These were dripping with juice and flavor, and a nice crunchy batter on the outside. I’ll never look at the lowly boneless breast the same again. Loved everything – do not overlook the bacon braised greens – yum!
Creole Bouillabaisse – shrimp, scallops, crab, mussels & catfish, seafood tomato broth, fennel, peppers, onions, red potatoes.. 24
A seafood-lovers dream come true. A large bowl of fresh fish etc., some potato added for good measure in a magnificent broth that is light yet full flavored at the same time.
Parmesan Rosemary Fries -$6
Just in case we were still hungry (we weren’t). These were good.
We tried a Nelms Road Merlot ($34) from Washington state that had a nice smoke, earthy flavor that paired well with the meal.
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