When making our Buffalo Eats Approved list, we realized there were a lot of restaurants that were long overdue for an updated review. Considering there will soon be an avalanche of restaurant openings this Summer/Fall, it’s a good time for us to catch up on our backlog. These next couple of days we’ll be writing about two such restaurants that deserve an updated post, Craving and Carmelo’s.
Buffalo’s restaurant scene is still coming along with its use of social media. Having the ability to post menu items on platforms like instagram, twitter or facebook can swing a diner into making or changing reservations. Chef Adam Goetz and his crew have done a really great job posting each day’s specials, mouthwatering pictures and in some cases, showing how a dish was created from start to finish.
I’m not sure where we originally were going to eat on that Friday night a couple weeks ago, but when we saw the Chef’s Daily Cravings (their daily specials), Alli and I changed our plans. That day the menu featured a lot of T-meadow pork and wild ramps, two things that we now love dearly. We made reservations immediately.
We sat down, ordered a couple drinks and decided to not even open the regular menu. That’s not a dig at the menu at Craving, not at all. It’s pretty extensive and has a lot of wonderful dishes like fried chicken, stuffed dates, pork loin and incredible house-made pasta. But what Chef Goetz is really excelling at right now are the daily specials. We ordered solely off their specials menu because we wanted to try something that wasn’t going to be around next week (or even the next day) and we wanted to take advantage of the seasonal ramps.
We followed our standard plan of ordering several small plates and a single entree (or two). After watching Chef Goetz expand the charcuterie program over the last six months, we knew that we’d be ordering that day’s board. Featured on the board were saucisson, lonza, coppa, speck and mortadella. It was a nice variety of textures and flavors. Our favorites were the thinly sliced melt-in-your-mouth coppa and the mortadella. Filled with pistachios, it was incredibly smooth and almost juicy. We were also fortunate to try the last fried head cheese from the previous night and it single handedly changed my view on head cheese. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the texture but when it’s breaded and deep fried, it’s a thing of beauty.
The T-Meadow pork liver pate was spread on house crostini and then topped with candied pine nuts and grapes, which both helped sweeten the rich pate. Delicious. The Pigs in a Blanket were filled with ground T-Meadow pork lemongrass sausage and wrapped in ramp leaves. The sausage remained juicy and had just a touch of bitterness from the cooked ramps. The real star of the show was the Scotch Egg. The exterior was thinly breaded but very crispy, the T-Meadow sausage was tender and the egg was still soft. Considering we were really craving a proper scotch egg since visiting London, this really scratched that itch. If you ever see this mentioned as a special, stop what you’re doing and go order one.
The Potato Gnocchi was just as fantastic as the last time we tried it and maybe a little better with the addition of savory oyster mushrooms and bitter ramps. The texture was light and insanely smooth and they were cooked perfectly, just slightly browned on the outside. Honestly, this is maybe the best gnocchi in WNY.
We continued our pasta journey and tried the Ramp Farfalle and Ramp Cavatelli. If you follow Chef Goetz or Craving on social media, you’ll know that next to his obsession with charcuterie, is pasta making. And he’s damn good at it. Each dish featured freshly made pasta that was cooked perfectly. The Ramp Farfalle was topped with fresh house made cheese and was mixed with yellow tomatoes that gave the dish some sweetness and acidity.
The Ramp Cavatelli was probably our favorite of the night. The pasta was a mixture of ramps and ricotta that paired remarkably well together. It was topped with roasted ramp bulbs and finished with a Parmesan broth that added a little salty kick which really compliment the whole dish wonderfully.
The evening was intense. Somehow, we found ourselves again sitting in the Craving dining room deliciously full and ready to fall into a food coma. You can of course visit Craving and order off the regular menu and have a good meal, but I highly suggest that you follow what the Chef and staff are doing every day and go out of your way for the specials. It is impossible to be disappointed.