Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Buffalo Burger Co.

I go cross border shopping about two or three times a year and when I go to Buffalo, I always, and I mean always, have lunch at The Olive Garden. Yes, I know the pasta is gross; don't worry I don't ever order that. They have some $5 or $6.99 'All you can eat soup, salad and bread sticks' thing that rocks. The white, doughy bread sticks and bottomless salad bowl with those light green hot peppers and canned sliced black olives. I love it. And the soups are good too.

Anyhow, enough about that. The point to this story is that for once, I had lunch somewhere else (it took some convincing). The Buffalo Burger Co. is right across the street from The Walden Galleria and right behind The Olive Garden.

Holy hamburgers! This place was awesome.

There was beef, Kobe beef, buffalo (otherwise known as bison here in Canada), elk, ostrich and wild boar. They say that "wild meats make delicious eats". I completely agree.

The Kobe beef was 8 ounces of tender, meaty, greasy, tastiness. The patty was thick. The bun had a shiny top, a grilled middle and was glistening with butter. The toppings were correct and in the right order: red onion, dill pickle, lettuce (romaine not some BS green) and a slice of tomato. There was a gazillion cheeses to choose from but I added American cheese because, well I was in America, and because it is my favourite burger cheese. I was not disappointed; it was a bubbly, oozy sheet of orange loveliness.

The buffalo patty was dry but buffalo is like that. It is a lean animal with barely any fat. A lack of fat means it's much healthier than a cow but it also means it's not as juicy or flavourful. I'm cool with it. I'm just pleased to see the farm of animal patties that is being offered.

I guess to compete with The Olive Garden, they have made their shoe string fries bottomless. After eight ounces of meat, I can't even finish the first round let alone request another basket but I like the idea.

Great burgers and skinny, crispy fries only get that much better with the 'Happy Hour' special: from 3pm til 5pm all domestic draft is $1 and domestic bottles $1.50. My eyes grow so wide and my grin so big and he asks if I'm Canadian.

I chuckle.

"Did my excitement over cheap beer give it away?"

"No, your accent did."

The Buffalo Burger Company
2013 Walden Avenue, Cheektowaga, NY
Takeout or Dine In
Open Daily
Cash, Debit or Credit
One Kobe, one bison, two orders of fries, one draft and one bottle with taxes approximately $28.00 US

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spoon and Fork

At Spoon and Fork, 1233 The Queensway, you can dine one of two ways: order a la carte off their regular menu or do the ‘all you can eat’ version from their special menu ($24.95). The latter should be entered into with caution as there are rules that must be followed...or else.

Rule Number One: You have to eat everything you order or you will be charged at regular price

Rule Number Two: There is a two hour dining limit.

Rule Number Three: Please do not order excessive food.

We decide to feast because we are starving and capable. We divide ourselves into two teams of two and decide to go page by page in the ordering process. It becomes a sort of game, a kind of challenge between what we want to eat and what we can eat.

Spoon and Fork is not the first of its’ kind; there is plenty of 'all you can eat sushi' in Toronto but none have the look of this restaurant. The dining room has that resto lounge feel. The ceiling is tall, the light fixtures are cool, and there is lots of black, a little bit of purple and a few candles. It’s Buddha and Zen and Vegas and Club all rolled into one. It is the fanciest ‘all you can eat’ that you are going to eat.

At Spoon and Fork, the focus is not just Japanese, it is equal parts Thai with a dash of Chinese. The dishes are small and shareable. They are also chipped, not properly expedited; splashes of sauce make them look dirty and they are literally dumped at your table like some sort of feeding frenzy.

To recall every dish would take this piece into another dot com so I will just give you the high and low lights.

Be sure to sample any of the tempuras as the batter is properly light and crispy. The peppery fried calamari with sweet chilli dipping sauce is another ‘do’ as is the curry pumpkin soup. Things get a little too Americanized with a scallop Rockefeller that takes an overdone scallop and smothers it in potato and cheddar cheese. Another downer is the agedashi tofu; lightly fried but also light on taste. The Thai dumplings are mushy and a smoked duck salad shows the meat more as a corned beef than a smoked duck.

Page two is dedicated to sushi. This is good because there is a lot of choice. This is bad because its’ quality is a small step up from Bento Nouveau.

A Thai green curry is surprisingly spicy. The chicken is tender and juicy and I like the chunks of fresh vegetables and the firm steamed rice. I get out the spoon for this one.

The beef teriyaki is nicely grilled, medium rare and tender. A jarred sauce is the only component holding the dish back. A Bangkok Street Style Pad Thai is overly salted and overly cooked but I’m just happy that it is dry. I do not like a ketchupy, saucy Pad Thai.

Desserts are not included and we are honestly way too full to proceed.

The last thing I need are some deep fried bananas.