Back in March of 2009, when our blog was only a couple weeks old, we were caught off guard by Local Restaurant Week and ended up scrambling to visit 2 restaurants at the last minute (Tempo and Black & Blue). When September of 2009 rolled around with 2009′s Fall Restaurant Week, I thought we were more prepared but still Alli and I again only tried out two new restuarants (Hutch’s and Prime 490).
It took us a full year but we were finally ready this time around. We looked over the line up of restaurants and we sat down and figured out what days of the week we could pull this off and where we really wanted to go. After a year of writing about eating at restaurants, we’ve actually crossed off a lot from our “wishlist” but I was surprised by how many restaurants we still haven’t tried. So we made a game plan to visit 5 different restaurants over the course of 6 days (we decided to take Sunday and Tuesday off, for health and financial reasons). Here is how each restaurants went:
Monday March 8th – Mythos
Our first restaurant was Mythos, a Greek restaurant located on Elmwood. We chose Mythos because of it’s proximity from our house (almost walkable), the fact that we probably wouldn’t need to make reservations, and for the simple reason that Alli was dying for some lamb. They had a really nice offering for restaurant week, including a 4 course meal of an appetizer, salad, select entree, and a dessert. Alli ordered their Mediterranean Dips platter for an appetizer which covered some of my favorites, specifically a delicious Kalamata Olive Tapenade. Alli also ordered their Rack of Lamb which was 4 large pieces of lamb that were cooked to a tender perfection, nice and pink on the inside. The Mousaka was basically a Greek version of Lasagna with layers of Eggplant, Potatoes, Zucchini, and Ground Beef topped with a layer of Bechamel Sauce. I’ve never had anything like it, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I normally hate traditional Lasagna, but the cooked eggplant and zucchini with the creamy-ness of the Bechamel sauce was fantastic.
The interior of Mythos is really nice and you actually don’t get that typical “Greek restaurant” feel; they create an atmosphere of fine dining with really nice booth seating and dim lighting. Our service was top notch and we really could not find a thing to complain about. If you are looking for a good souvlaki, however, I still would recommend Ambrosia that is located across the street. That’s only because I haven’t tried Mytho’s version but I definitely plan on going back to try more of their menu. If you are looking for maybe something more adventurous and a nicer setting for a date, I would highly suggest Mythos.
Wednesday March 10th – 31 Club
Our second meal was at the 31 Club, located on Elmwood only a couple blocks away from Chippewa. I know the 31 Club isn’t the biggest secret of Buffalo, but it really is a hidden gem. Located in an area where fine dining really isn’t expected, 31 Club is one of the nicest restaurants I’ve ever stepped foot into. The interior is gorgeous, their bar is very welcoming (and I would be just fine eating off their “late night” menu from the bar) and they have a very attentive staff. Their Restaurant Week deal was a 2 course dinner, an appetizer (soup or salad) and one of their entrees. Alli and I decided to add something extra and try their Duck Fries because we are both notoriously suckers for French Fries. I can honestly tell you that they were the single greatest order of French Fries that I have ever eaten in my life. They were fried to the perfect level of crunchy-ness (if thats even a word) and combined with the flavor of of the black truffle salt and duck fat, they might have been the single greatest thing I ate during Restaurant Week and maybe of 2010.
The rest of our meal was very good but my entree of crusted White fish on top of potatoes and broccolini did not wow me over like the Duck Fries did. The Whitefish was flakey with a crispy skin but tasted like it was literally layered in salt, so much so that I couldn’t finish it. Regardless I would definitely consider going back for another visit, their regular menu prices are not unreasonable (20-35 per entree+sides) and they offer a very nice Sunday Brunch.
Thursday March 11th – Papaya
Meal number three brought us to Chippewa and Papaya. Papaya may win the Buffalo Eats award for “Most times I’ve made plans to go and then eventually canceled or bailed out”. I’ve been planning to go to Papaya for literally years but for some reason have never eaten there until this week. I was excited to go because of how long we’ve waited to try it out and because I was dying for Duck. Their offer was a 2 course meal (an appetizer or sushi roll and an entree) with a glass of wine. Alli and I both ordered Sushi rolls, Alli ordered a crab roll and I ordered their Tobiko Ahi Tuna Roll. It wasn’t the best sushi I have ever eaten but what really won me over was their duck that actually came out on a sizzling plate (I tried to capture the steam coming from the plate in the photo). The Duck was pretty fatty (in a good way) and so so juicy and covered in delicious caramelized onions and cooked broccoli. I could have used more (that’s usually the case) but the serving size was very filling, and for $18 would be a great entree on any night.
We walked away from Papaya being pleasantly surprised and had maybe the quickest service out of any of the 5 restaurants we visited (which was a nice surprise as they were packed and very busy). Papaya has a really interesting menu of Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese (sushi) as well as some safe offerings for those less adventurous. However, if you’re going to Papaya I suggest you stick with their authentic cuisine. Former staff member Mike highly recommends the Butter Fish and Alli enjoyed the Chicken Pad Thai (as did I the following day as leftovers).
Friday March 12th – Fiamma Steak
Our fourth day really tested the patience of Alli and myself. Up until Friday we had some awesome service at our restaurants and none of the restaurants felt like they were trying to “sell” us on getting something off the regular menu while ignoring the restaurant week deal. That was until we went to Fiamma Steak. It actually started really nice, we sat down very early and didn’t have to wait at all for a table. The place was filled with young attractive people, always a good sign, and Alli and I were really looking forward to our meals. The only problem is our service was horrible; our waiter was extremely nice (actually, almost too nice to the point of faking it) but he definitely made it a point to recommend almost every dish on the regular menu and did not even mention the restaurant week deal. What really made us upset, though, was how unbelievably long it took us to get our food. I am not even exaggerating when I say that there were four parties of diners who sat down and ordered well AFTER we did and every single one of them received their meals at least 15 minutes before we did. In actuality, most of those tables actually paid and were on their way to leaving just as we were receiving our dinners. On top of that, our waiter went missing for extremely long periods of time and did not seem to care if we needed more drinks or how our food was. It was almost to the point where we wanted to get up and leave.
Ignoring the service for a moment, Alli ordered herself their Buttermilk Fried Chicken and I ordered the Lobster Milanese (which basically a flattened lobster tail), both of which appeared to have been specifically put on the menu just for restaurant week and not something they regularly offer. The food was good but nothing special, normally a la carte it came with a side and we both ordered appetizers. Alli ordered their French Onion soup which wasn’t that amazing and I ordered their Fall Harvest Salad which was actually really really good. It’s sad when you go to a restaurant with such high hopes and expectations and the best thing you walk away from was a really good $6 salad. I would definitely try Fiamma again as I understand that one day of really bad service shouldn’t be a reason to completely ignore a second trip plus I would love to try something that is normally offered on there regular menu. That said, however, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
Saturday March 13th – The Place Restaurant
By Saturday Alli and I were exhausted and really really full. We had eaten at 4 really nice restaurants and sure we had our disappointments but that stretch of fine dining over 5 days was by far an all time record for ourselves. So when we originally had planned to go to a 5th restaurant that was also “high end” we actually canceled our reservation and decided to go somewhere low key. Thank god we did. Place is a restaurant right off the Elmwood strip that seems like someone took a pub from South Buffalo and dropped it in the Elmwood village. For their restaurant week offering they had a dinner for 2, that came with a soup or salad and a choice of several entrees. Alli and I both chose their 12 oz Sirloin Steaks and their diner style (slightly thicker and crispy) French Fries. It was a fantastic meal, it was exactly the low key and cheap yet delicious experience we were looking for after meals at restaurants that require reservations. I love fine dining but sometimes I love a juicy 10 dollar steak and french fries and Pabst Blue Ribbon (ON TAP!) in a cozy bar/restaurant on a side street of Elmwood. If you are looking for a really good, cheap meal please check out The Place Restaurant on Lexington (right across from Kuni’s), they have the typical menu of bar food of Chicken Wings, Sandwiches, and yes some Strip Steaks all for 6-15 dollars. Plus, everyone I know that goes there raves about their homemade soup selections…