Even though we took a two month hiatus from blogging, we didn’t take a two month hiatus from eating. We originally thought we’d focus on cooking at home, scale back our events and just relax. That didn’t really happen. We tried new restaurants, were invited to several press tastings, did a little ‘celebrity’ judging and kept track of what was going on in the food world.
This week we are going to write a couple blog posts with short descriptions of some of these meals. Instead of taking several weeks to write full on reviews for each restaurant/event, we’ll write a couple sentences about some of our more memorable meals. After this week, things will start to go back to normal and we’ll write full reviews and maybe we’ll even start bringing our SLR to restaurants.
Savor Restaurant. Last month, Alli and I were invited to a special dinner by the fine folks at Savor Restaurant, which is located in the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. I’ve met the Executive Chef Calvin College and I’ve heard only great things about the campus, so I was excited to finally see the facility in person.
The dining room and open kitchen look fantastic, you’ll quickly forget that you’re actually sitting inside a college campus. For adventurous eaters who would like a unique dining experience, they have a Chef’s Table near the kitchen (I believe the only one in WNY). The restaurant was closed for our event and we were fortunate enough to share our meal with some of the area’s most talented chefs and some of our closest friends.
We enjoyed a five course menu with wine and beer pairings that showcased the modern cooking techniques that are being taught in the classrooms of the institute. The pineapple sphere was a playful nod to restaurants like el Bulli, the pear salad had some bold flavors but remained light and refreshing and the hanger steak was cooked perfectly. I’d like to revisit the restaurant in the future and either try something of their a la cart menu or bring a group to sit at the Chef’s table to get a closer look at the kitchen.
YOLO. Before I stepped through their doors, I wanted to hate eveything about YOLO. The name is dumb and I’m not a huge fan of eating in restaurants that looks like a night club, but the lunch I had in January was actually…wait for it….OK. During a bad snow storm, my coworker and I drove down Transit road to the small strip plaza that houses YOLO. The restaurant is gigantic; there is a small dining room in the front of the building, a long bar and a gigantic dining room in the back that was closed off. Shockingly, at noon on a Wednesday in a snow storm, we had the entire place to ourselves.
Their lunch menu is a little ridiculous. The actual lamented sheet was at least 3 feet long and contained a little bit of everything. After spending some serious time looking at the list of options, we decided to try a couple sandwiches and an appetizer platter. The appetizer plater was pretty decent. Their crab cake actually had a fair amount of crab inside and the mushrooms were fresh and had a nice bite. The steak sandwich was fatty (not in the good way) and over cooked but their Ahi Tuna sandwich was great. The fish was lightly seared on the outside and tasted great with chipotle mayo on top.
Despite the name, YOLO actually served some OK food and I’m sure some people love the restaurant. Maybe the setting works better at night when you’re having dinner or drinks. Or if you want to go out to eat with a large group of people, this place can pretty much hold as many as you want. I don’t plan on ever going back, but it’s not as horrible as I anticipated.
Nickel City Chef. I have traveled to an awards show, attended private press tastings, have been featured in the media and even won some awards thanks to Buffalo Eats. But I have to say that judging Nickel City Chef last month was one of my proudest moments since starting this blog five years ago. I was honored to judge the first event of Season 6 that featured Chef Adam Goetz from Craving battling Chef Jeffrey Cooke Jr. from Osteria 166. On top of the great matchup, I was lucky enough to judge with our good friend Chef James Roberts from Park Country Club and new friend, Jeff Besinger of Buffalo Spree.
I was pretty nervous when the event started, talking about food in front of 100+ people is weird, but I eventually embraced the experience and become more comfortable. I lucked out, each course I tried (featuring Winter Carrots) was fantastic and it was easy to talk about the food. I’ll never forget Chef Cooke’s carrot/fudge dessert or Chef Goetz’s carrot stuffed lamb loin with carrot spaetzel. Ultimately Chef Goetz won the challenge but the event left me wanting to revisit both Osteria 166 and Craving the very next day.
Blue Table Chocolates. This may sound like a humble brag, but we get offered free food samples on a semi-regular basis and most of the time the food isn’t that great. So when I got an email about free chocolates, I considered ignoring it. Thank goodness I didn’t because Blue Table Chocolates are some of the most delicious and gorgeous chocolates I’ve ever had in Western New York.
Owner Ben Johnson (Buffalo Foodie article coming shortly) sent Alli and myself a box of six and after the 2nd chocolate we were fighting over who would eat the remaining four. The chocolates are stunning by themselves and the design of the packing and flavor charts is smart and attractive. My first thought after finishing that sample was “I can’t wait to buy these as gifts for friends.”
Follow them on facebook to keep up to date on future giveaways and where you can find their chocolates. I’m hoping they’ll be found in local stores in the near future.
We’ll be going back to our regularly scheduled programming next week with maybe some new bloggers contributing. If you like to eat food, take pictures of food and like writing, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have you.