Thursday, April 28, 2011

Buffalo: A foodie's paradise.

When I was living in California, I would tell my Angelino friends that Buffalo has a better food scene than L.A. They of course looked at me like I belonged in a padded cell, but I stand by my statement. Does Los Angeles have amazing food? Absolutely. More great restaurants than Buffalo? Probably. But the ratio of good restaurants to bad here is off the charts. Really bad restaurants just don't exist in Buffalo, because they wouldn't survive. Maybe it's the less-than-stellar economy in this city that causes Buffalonians to be extra picky about where we dine, or maybe it's just that we are a city of foodies. The point is that you'd be hard pressed to find a really crappy restaurant in the city limits.

I'm no food critic, and I may not be able to wax poetic about food in a way that will make your mouth water like some other local bloggers (Buffalo Eats, Buffalo Chow) but I think it's about time to tell you about some of my recent food experiences.

To say that I like sushi would be a massive understatement, so I was really excited to stop into SeaBar with some friends during local restaurant week earlier this month. The sushi special included chef's picks of maki rolls, nigiri pieces, and a handroll as well as some sesame noodles, all of which were excellent. The fish was all really fresh; the rice and fish just about melted in my mouth. I don't think I needed a drop of soy sauce. To me, freshness is the only factor that separates good sushi from bad sushi, and SeaBar definitely has the best sushi in town.

In retrospect, I should have taken pictures of my food, but I was too busy devouring it.
This image is courtesy of

Another recent restaurant event was this week's Dining Out For Life. Local foodies were encouraged to dine at any of the 100 participating restaurants, who then donated 25% of that night's proceeds to AIDS Community Services of WNY. When my co-worker told me that he was going to be the Dining Out For Life "Ambassador" at The Blue Monk, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally eat there. I've loved the Monk since it opened. Hell, I was excited when I first heard about plans for the place back when I was still living in Los Angeles! I've been a regular at the bar, enjoying their superb beer selection since day one, but I had still never eaten there.

Boy, was I missing out. On Tuesday I shared a flat-bread pizza, an order of mussels, and fries with a friend. Awesome awesome awesome. I could have ate the whole pizza (okay two of them) myself. The Gorgonzola, which I don't usually love, contrasted the fresh greens beautifully. Our mussels, cooked in Ommegang Witte (one of my favorite beers) with leeks and lemon were done perfectly. Not chewy, not mushy, but just right.(Goldilocks moment!) Being pescetarians (vegetarians who eat fish,) we opted for the vegan fries instead of the duck frites, but they were still excellent. So excellent in fact that they were gone before the mussels ever made it to the table. Obviously we ordered more. Not one of the 7 of us that ate together were disappointed. Even my brother, an eater who uses the phrase "it was just okay" pretty often, gushed about one of the best burgers he'd ever had.

I remembered to take a picture this time.

Great. Like I needed a reason to spend more of my time and money at that place. (Totally worth it!)


  1. Hi Rachel,

    I write Buffalo Chow and appreciate the mention. Lived in Southern California for 6 or 7 years and honestly there's no comparison. As much as I love my home town (here), I can say with all honesty that there were fourth-rate sushi places in SoCal that put Buffalo's best Japanese restaurants to shame. First-rate sushi in L.A. was very close to the best stuff I've tried in Tokyo, and I've been to some of the best places there. Ditto on gastropubs. Buffalo has one. SoCal has too many to count, and some great options.

    And there are a dozen cuisines, maybe three dozen offshoots, that you'll find in SoCal but not here. Wish I could say the same thing in the other direction, but there only a handful of dishes - not even entire cuisines - done only here and not there. Angelinos are right to be proud of the cultural and culinary diversity they have fostered.

  2. I in no way meant to imply that L.A. doesn't have awesome food. Some of the best food I ever ate was there. But so was some of the worst.

  3. One of the best foods I've try in Buffalo, NY during our summer vacation is the Sizzling Beef Tapa with Onion and Chili Sauce at the Rose Garden Resto!