Food Porn: Daniel’s Restaurant

UPDATE: Since our post, Chef Daniel Johenghen has sold the restaurant, it’s still operating under new management.

I’m not sure how this happened, but we’ve never had a meal at Daniel’s. Alli and I have wanted to visit this quiet restaurant in the village of Hamburg for years but we usually got distracted by something new. When Alli’s parents suggested taking us to Daniel’s to celebrate our two year anniversary, we were really excited. Since we started the blog, we’ve had plenty of friends and fans telling us how great the food and service is. We’ve talked to talented Chefs like Ross Warhol and Brad Rowell who have spent time in the kitchen and knew that Chef/Owner Daniel Johenghen was once the Executive Chef at Oliver’s, a Buffalo institution.

We made reservations for a Wednesday night and were shocked when we walked in to see a restaurant that was mostly full. Considering they don’t have a very aggressive social media/marketing presence, its impressive to see a restaurant still have a such a dedicated following.

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Fine Dining
  • Cuisine: Fine Dining
  • Location: Hamburg
  • Prices: Appetizers $7-19, Entrees $22-45

The restaurant doesn’t have a bar, so I wouldn’t suggest arriving too early or showing up without a reservation. They do offer a nice wine selection, a few bottles of beer and made me a pretty good Old Fashioned. The restaurant is built within an old house, which means that you can drive right by Daniel’s and have no idea you missed anything. It’s not very large but the tables are far enough apart that we had plenty of space to ourselves. It’s definitely on the fancier side and the service is very impressive and attentive, but you can still get a way with wearing a pair of nice jeans.

We started our meal with a couple appetizers. We ordered their Soft Shell Crab ($13) and Seared Foie Gras ($17) off the evening’s specials menu and the Whole Milk Mozzarella salad ($10) off the regular menu. The soft shell crab was plated on top of fresh pasta and covered in garlic butter and capers. It was cooked perfectly as each bite burst (literally) with flavor. The capers were a really nice addition that added just enough acidity to cut through the rich butter. I ordered the foie gras and promptly ate the entire thing by myself. The seared foie was on top of a dense brioche and the covered in an ice wine reduction and caramelized apples. The dish had flavor extremes, the greasy/burnt (in a good way) brioche and foie was very rich while the ice wine and apples were very sweet. I devoured the entire thing happily, but I would have loved some more foie gras and a little less apple. Alli and her Mom both enjoyed their salads, the ingredients were very fresh and light and they didn’t skimp on the large pieces of creamy mozzarella.

For our main courses we all ordered something different to sample a nice variety of the menu. Alli’s Dad took a gamble and ordered the Roast Lobster Tails ($42) that were served on top of angel hair pasta and soaked in vanilla bean butter. In my opinion, it was the best dish of the night. The lobster had been pre-cracked, soaked in the butter and was just perfect. My father-in0law is normally a picky eater but he raved the entire night about how good his food was. I ordered the Seared Fillet of Halibut ($32) with lump crab, asparagus, and potatoes coated in a pink peppercorn sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly, tender enough to fall apart with my fork but still juicy. My only complaint was the dish was a little heavy on the salt. Alli loves a good steak and ordered the Grilled Tuscan Style Ribeye; the large piece of beef was cooked perfectly and was very flavorful. Alli’s Mom ordered the Stuffed Chicken dish with leeks, tomatoes and goat cheese. The chicken was fresh and juicy but took a backseat to the really flavorful veggies inside.

Somehow, we found a little more room and ordered two desserts to finish the meal, Profiteroles and Almond Cookie with Vanilla Ice Cream. The profiteroles reminded me of tiny little cream puffs except they were filled with caramel ice cream and coated in a chocolate sauce. We didn’t get to try the almond cookie and vanilla ice cream because Alli’s parent’s devoured it quickly, obviously enjoying every bite.

The entire experienced lived up to all the hype, the service was some of the best we’ve had in a while and almost every dish we ordered was executed flawlessly. The regular menu is great on its own but the extensive specials menu is really what you want to focus on and where most of our favorite dishes came from. Daniel’s isn’t exactly a “hip restaurant.” The clientele is slightly more mature and the restaurant is made for a nice quiet night out. But if you are looking to spend a night out with a special someone or celebrate a birthday or anniversary, this should be near the top of your list of options. If you are trying to be budget friendly, their three courses for $40 offering (Tues-Thurs) won’t break the bank.

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