On March 31st, Bistro Europa will close its doors and the staff will begin the transition to their new and improved location at 376 Connecticut St. The name Bistro Europa won’t make the move with the Gedra’s. When they open up the doors in May/June at their new West Side location, the restaurant will be called The Black Sheep Restaurant and Bar. It’s going to be bigger (almost double their seating capacity), will allow the staff to have more room to breathe and will offer the possibly of a charcuterie and bread shop in the future. And, believe me when I say, if you’ve never had Ellen’s bread, you have not lived.
Alli and I have been really busy lately (hence the lack of new restaurant reviews…don’t worry, we’re working on it) but we knew that we needed to experience a proper “final dinner” at the original location before they closed. We are very excited to see what the Europa staff will do with a larger location, but there is something about this tiny little restaurant that we’ll miss. We love the intimate atmosphere, the mismatching glasses and plates and the donated pig themed items dotting the bar. It’s easily one of our favorite restaurants in Western New York.
We made reservations for a Saturday night dinner and arrived to a packed restaurant at 9pm. Instead of trying to hang off to the side and wait for a table, we grabbed two seats at the bar. It’s arguably the best bar dining experience in the city. The bartenders are always up for good conversation and nothing can top being able to hear Steve scream/sing/yell from the kitchen. Our fingers are crossed that his voice will carry into the dining room at their new location.
If you’ve been to Europa before, you know they always offer a range of unique dishes using a large amount of locally sourced and house-made ingredients. The same vision will carry over to The Black Sheep, and probably on an even grander scale, which can only mean there are amazing things to come.
Alli and I decided to go all out and we ordered a bit of everything. The charcuterie board is a must and was fantastic. Steve’s Lardo is perfection and I wish I could always have a tub of it in our house. The liver pate and coppa were also quickly devoured. The Pork Skin Fritters lived up to their name; warm, deep fried balls of pork skin that were a perfect combination of fatty, crunchy and salty. I can still taste the pickled black radish that was served on the side. We each ordered a T-Meadow Farms Pork Taco. You can’t go wrong with anything involving T-Meadow pork, especially on a homemade corn tortilla.
Sous Chef Mike Thill stepped out of the kitchen and delivered a bowl of their Smoke Chorizo, Squid and Manila Clam Fideos. The flavor of the broth was intense and if I had eaten the entire bowl, I probably could have (and should have) walked back home. It’s a hearty bowl filled to the brim with chorizo, squid, clams and thin noodles. It’s perfect for our still chilly Buffalo nights.
Of course, there’s more. Alli ordered some Veal and Pork Bolognese with Gnocchi and I went with the Grassland Farms Duck Breast. It was probably the best duck that I’ve ever had. I was almost completely full at this point and could barely move, but I still ate every last piece (I know, I really am terrible to my body sometimes, but it’s worth it). It was cooked to a spot-on medium rare with a crispy and slightly charred skin. Alli fought me for the last couple of pieces. It was really a wonderful climax to an already outstanding meal.
Of course we ended the night with Sticky Toffee Pudding. I understand that Ellen Gedra is a dessert goddess and her other offerings are unique and delicious, but we can’t see the words sticky toffee pudding on the menu and not order it. I’ve said this before, but it’s honestly the best dessert you can get anywhere in WNY. I’m not positive, but I expect it to be on the menu at The Black Sheep. If it isn’t, I predict massive protests.
It’s an end of an era at Bistro Europa and while I’m a little sad, I look forward to telling future generations of food lovers about the meals I had at their ‘first’ location and feeling like I have some street cred. They will be serving dinner for 11 more days (including tonight) so if you haven’t made a reservation yet, time is quickly running out. The menu is likely to change in the coming days, but you will find plenty of delicious options and might get lucky and Steve singing from the kitchen one last time.