Food Porn: Praxis “1884” by Chef Ross Warhol

When we finished out Farm to Table Dinner and drove away from the Athenaeum Hotel last September, we vowed that we would find a way to come back to the Hotel and enjoy another meal from Chef Ross Warhol (who was a finalist for the International Iron Chef competition in Toronto this weekend). When Ross came over to record an episode of Eat It Up he mentioned having something up his sleeve for the following season and hinted at a possible “pop up restaurant” idea but couldn’t confirm any details. A few weeks ago the the hotel officially announced Praxis, a series of ‘pop up’ dinners that will be offered to the general public.

We attended the first event titled “1884“, the theme of the dinner was based around a hotel menu from 1884 that was gifted to the hotel from Jennifer Johnson from the Johnson Estate Winery. Ross took inspiration from the 1884 menu and applied modern techniques and premium ingredients to put his own spin on the dishes. There are two more events planned, “Community” on August 4th that will be a play on a traditional potluck dinner and “Painted” on August 16th that will feature dishes that will be inspired by various artists.

The minute we heard about the “1884” theme dinner, both Alli and I knew that would be the one we really wanted to try. The Athenaeum Hotel has been housing guests since 1881 and has hosted 10 US Presidents, Amelia Earheart, Duke Ellington, Susan B Anthony and Thomas Edison over that time. Getting a glimpse into the world that those historical figures were dining in and then tasting an old menu re-imagined by one of the most talented chefs in the area made the “1884” meal a no brain-er.

The meal started with an amuse-bouche of a chicken oyster over fresh corn and a veggie puree (pictured above). It was our first chicken oyster experience and we absolutely loved the rich flavor and the contrast of the tender chicken with a nice crunch of the seared exterior. The first of five courses that then arrived to our table was the Soubise Chaud-Froid (pictured in gallery), luckily Ross educated us after the dinner that the it was prepared by slowly cooking down onionsthen adding water, cream and gelatin later. The dish had a savory, almost meaty flavor and left us very surprised that the ingredients were so simple. Along with the soubise chaud froid were sweet marinated beets, asparagus ribbons and fresh green peas.

The second course was probably my favorite, Scottish Salmon with parisienne potatoes, haricot verts (green beans) and anchovy sauce (pictured above, top). I’ve never had salmon with that much flavor, it seemed like it was just infused with butter and could not have been cooked any better. The anchovy sauce provided a nice contrast kick to the buttery salmon and potatoes. I could have had 4 more of these plates. The third course was a Fricandeau of Veal Sweet Bread (pictured above, bottom) with barigoule artichokes, apricot puree and compressed vegetables. The veal sweet breads had the texture of a really good chicken nugget except with a much stronger flavor. Normally, veal (let alone sweet breads) might be intimidating for some eaters but this dish would be very approachable for even the most picky palate.

The fourth dish was Lamb Tenderloin with Apple Galette, Foie Gras Vol-au-vent (pictured in gallery). The lamb was slightly over cooked but the flavor (especially paired with the sweet apples) was still great. The foie gras vol-au-vent (pastry dish) was my favorite part of the dish, over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to absolutely love the taste of foie gras and this dish just continued my love. The rich, buttery foie gras was almost gravy-like was and mixed with vegetables in a flaky pastry shell.

After a bit of an extended rest, dessert arrived. We were served Lemon Meringue Pie and a Mignardise (bite sized desserts) of chocolates. The pie had a heaping pile of meringue (which didn’t quite rise because of the humidity) on top, which had a marshmellow-y flavor/texture.

Overall the meal was really great and luckily we had the pleasure of spending it with a very fun, foodie group of friends in a historic setting that can’t be matched by really any restaurant in Buffalo. It’s worth noting that Chef Ross Warhol is still under 25 and while he’s already winning awards, he’s going to continue to grow and hopefully offer even more of these unique dining experiences in the future. If you want to get a taste of this young, talented chef before he becomes a super star, I suggest you attend one of his other events ($69/$89 per person, w/o or with drink pairings) or attend this years Farm to Table dinner on September 7th ($89).

Photo Gallery:


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