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Torontonian heading to Buffalo for the 1st time - suggestions, please?

This place, Lagehouse 95... just recently opened right next to the arena. Have not tried it, but it is the closest option. Btw...arena is now called the First Niagara Center (or Centre! ;-)


I Think I'm Done With Katz's For A While...

AAArgh! Just when I thought I was out....Thanks for the report RGR. Still tough to purge the last few experiences from my mind, but again, you are someone I trust implicitly (especially after your spot-on Sarge's recommendation) so maybe...... BTW, shocked looking at your photos how (relatively) empty the place looks, compared to my last few visits. That alone would probably raise the overall experience score a couple of notches for me! Thanks so much for the follow-up report!

Jul 14, 2010
Howgart in Manhattan

I Think I'm Done With Katz's For A While...

Hi RGR...OP here...had to let you know that I am back in town this weekend, and in fact did try Sarge's this afternoon for lunch. All-in-all, a very nice experience.
Had the chopped liver app and of course, the Pastrami on rye. Don't have chopped liver all that often these days, but thought this to be a very good version. Creamy, mildly flavored (as I prefer) with nice onion and tomato garnish. Very satisfying. So, "how was the Pastrami?" you ask.

I thought the Pastrami was very good, certainly one of the best pastrami sandwiches I've ever had. Nice ratio of fat to lean, soft, tender, and noticeable spicing throughout. For $12.95, thought it was a lot of sandwich for the money. Sandwich was accompanied by a bucket of sours and half sours, as well as cole slaw. A really satisfying meal, yet...

If it seems as if I am not "over-the-moon" raving, you are right. I suspect the reason for this is that while eating the sandwich today, it was the first time I came to the realization that one of the things I really liked about Katz's, was the thicker, hand sliced meat. Didn't ever think it would wind up being a big deal, but somewhere mid-bite, it dawned on me that, while Sarge's serves a superior Pastrami sandwich, it didn't quite make me swoon the way I remember the Katz's version doing in its heyday. I think the cut is a big part of it for me, but I also think that "back in the day" the cut as well as all the other variables came down on Katz's side. Now, I know that's like saying that I preferred the "69 Mets to the current version...those days are long gone, and (I suspect like Katz's heyday) never coming back. So I guess it's foolish to pine for the "Pastrami of my youth" but damn...those are some powerful memories!

BTW, really loved the whole Sarge's experience. Great old-time deli vibe, without any attempt at affectation. Just a good, solid place to go have lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Walk in, no hassles, no lines, place is clean, sanity abounds....ahhhh...compared to Katz's these days, a true oasis! I will also note that at mid-day on a Saturday, I was one of three tables eating. Hope they are doing ok, in that these type places are, I fear, a dying breed. (Noticed that a couple of the other restaurants nearby were teeming with 20 and 30 somethings...maybe a generational thing? Do younger folks eat less deli than older?)

Anyway, I am extremely pleased to have tried Sarge's, and I thank you RGR for another spot-on recommendation (as per the usual!). Next time back, should I be in a Pastrami mood, I will eagerly return to Sarge's.

May 29, 2010
Howgart in Manhattan

I Think I'm Done With Katz's For A While...

Heartily agree with the "not as good" part. Certainly not what I would call "very good". In further retrospect, it's hard for me to characterize my sandwich and overall experience there on Saturday, as anything other than "terrible". (And again, as a lifelong Katz's fanboy, I am truly saddened).

Mar 29, 2010
Howgart in Manhattan

I Think I'm Done With Katz's For A While...

Thanks for the recommendation RGR...have been following your sage advice for years on this board, and I very much respect your opinion (by the way...got to EMP for the first time the other night...I know it's a fave of yours, and all I can say is OMG!!!!!) Will definitely give Sarge's a try on my next visit. Thanks for the tip!

Mar 27, 2010
Howgart in Manhattan

I Think I'm Done With Katz's For A While...

...Based on my experience there today and on my last 2 visits.

I grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island, and moved away from the NY metro area some 30 odd years ago. Growing up, we went to Katz's often. It was always a treat, and I used to dream about the Pastrami. I worshipped Katz's.

I have continued to visit over the years, and whenever I have gone, I have always made the pilgrimage to Katz's. Still loved the whole experience as well as that crave-worthy Pastrami. It still was good for me, and exactly as I remembered from my long-gone youth...up until last September. On that visit, I remember my Pastrami sandwich seeming a bit smaller than normal, and something seemed "off" to me. Didn't think much about it, and returned on my next visit. That was in December.

I was in NY doing a site selection for an International conference I was to hold here in March. Had two folks from the UK with me, and the whole trip, I kept talking to them about Katz's Pastrami. We finally got to go there the day before we were to leave town. Got there around 2:30 in the afternoon, and holy cow...the place was completed swamped. Many tourists with cameras, no room to even walk down the front to get to the slicers, people lined up out the door, not realizing there were multiple lines, In a word, it was bedlam. (Having gone there for many years, I was used to crowds, but this was at a whole different level.) Nonetheless, we waited and eventually got our sandwiches. Went and sat down, and the first thing I noticed, was that the sandwiches somehow seemed smaller than usual. (I had 50 some odd years of experience walking out of there pretty stuffed after a Pastrami, fries and a soda. This time, I easily finished my sandwich, and did not feel anywhere as stuffed as usual. My guests felt the same....both in terms of the size and quality of the sandwich) Again, the sandwich seemd to be somewhat "off" not just in size, but also in texture and flavor. It did not seem to have the intense flavor I had come to know so well, and the meat seemed somewhat tough...a shocker in that I recall the Pastrami typically melting in my mouth.

Which brings us to today. Walked in, and was again met with a completely chaotic scene (Perhaps they could have someone up front doing some "line management?) Finally got to the counter, got my Pastrami sandwich, and had to struggle mightily to even get away from the counter and walk to a table. Was going to get a Dr. Brown's, but it was so insane, I just went and got a glass of water instead. It was annoyingly crowded. Then, I probably walked around for a good 10 minutes before I was able to find an open seat (I was alone). Had to clear my own space, and do my own wiping down. Seems like at some point, Katz's became a tourist destination, rather than a place to go get a sandwich. Maybe this has been going on for a while, but honestly, I never really much noticed it up until this year!

So after all that, I proceeded to bite into my sandwich, and for the first time ever in my life I thought " 'ya know, this really isn't very good." It made me very sad. The meat was incredibly tough and most annoyingly, filled with gristle. Not the lovely soft fatty parts that are normally there, but hard, tough, gristle. Throughout the sandwich. In virtually every slice of meat (I know, 'cause I opened it up to and started tasting slices of Pastrami using my fork.) It was the first time in my 54 yers that I actually pushed the sandwich aside, and thought "I really don't want to finish that." And I didn't.

So when I think about my last three visits, I feel as if there has been a gradual, yet noticeable decline in this once iconic and venerable institution from my youth. As I said, it made me sad. I've been following the Katz's debates on CH for yers, and honestly, up until this past year, have always been in the "it's as good as ever camp." I can no longer make that claim.

Now, I know, it's all subjective. I am certainly not saying I am right here, or that others who see it differently are wrong. No, rather I am saying that as a life-long staunch admirer and defender of Katz's, it is no longer currently working for me. If it still works for you, that's terrific (and again, it's entirely possible that I just happened to hit 3 bad random days in a row...3 data points certainly do not constitute an iron-clad case.) All I'm saying is, I think it's time for a break for me. Perhaps I'll try again in a couple of years.

Mar 27, 2010
Howgart in Manhattan

Diners in Buffalo, NY

Lake Effect Diner has gotten a bit of press lately with regard to the owner's emphasis on using local foods, curing his own bacon, etc. Links below for articles in "Buffalo Rising" a local blog collection. Included is a description of a recent visit from Guy Fieri of Food Network. Have eaten here a few times...food's good...not life changing, but solid.



BTW....Not too far away from LED, is Amy's Place...a funky "diner-ish" joint located in the University District. Really good breakfast items, solid Mediterranean choices, good veggie items, and some good (and unique) sandwiches. Kind of a "crunchy" atmosphere, but food and service are both solid. Enjoy your time in Buffalo!

Amy's Place
3234 Main St. Buffalo, NY

Is SAMPLE in Buffalo still good ??

Here's a link to an article from Food Network Canada's site earlier this month. The article mentions Sample (in a positive light) as well as a couple of other Buffalo choices. Enjoy.


Buffalo, NY Dining

Ah...got it. Thanks. FWIW,,,reading the bios on The Buffalo Chow site...it appears that at least one of them is a Bflo native, and returned back here after living elsewhere. I like that the reviewer has both experience and perspective that allows for comparison to versions of similar food from outside Western New York . I also appreciate the photos.

I also think the guy who does the review seem generally, to have a pretty good understanding of many different types of cuisine and restaurants, and (IMO) writes well (Whereas I find the Rappaport user- submitted reviews can be pretty hit or miss.) In any case, it's great that there are two sites with such extensive coverage of The WNY food scene. I use both as resources.

Buffalo, NY Dining

Not quite sure what you mean here

Buffalo, NY Dining

Here's another site you may find useful.....http://buffalochow.com/

Top 5 Burgers

I think City Hall around the corner from Odeon blows 'em away. Had the burger at City Hall last night...albeit a bit pricey ($15) it's an incredibly flavorful Pat LaFreida short rib and brisket mix, served on a home made onion bun. Came perfectly done as ordered (medium rare) with a slice of onion, lettuce, and tomato on the side. Comes with fries, cheese is optional. A truly tasty and delicious burger.

Jul 11, 2008
Howgart in Manhattan

Barcelona: Reliable Chow/Drinks Near Camp Nou?

Hi All...Will be attending a football match in Barcelona in early February. Can anyone recommend a reliable spot near the stadium (preferably walking distance) to chow down and have a few drinks before the match? Not looking for anything real formal or fancy. A place to grab some decent tapas and a few beers/glasses of Cava would be perfect. Thanks.

Jan 01, 2008
Howgart in Spain/Portugal

Bacon in Buffalo

No Niman Ranch..only Nodine's

China Daily article reaffirm's Jia Jia Tang Bao's xiaolong bao supremacy (Shanghai)

Just got back from Shanghai. Based on this recommendation (and attached article) I had the xiaolong bao at JJTB on my last day. In a word, incredible!

The description in the article is pretty spot on. Had a basket of the plain XLB, which set me back 6 RMB (about .78 USD) for a basket of 12. Every order is hand made (by said team of young Chinese women referenced in the article...a real hoot to watch) and comes out fresh and steaming hot. Having tried several other spots around the city during my week there, these were clearly (to me) the best of the lot. Delicate, filled with highly flavored soup, and amazingly light in texture, these were by far the best I've ever had. After finishing my steamer basket, I regretted having ordered only one, as I was on a tight schedule to catch a flight, and had to leave.

Be aware that English here is limited (no English signs/menu, and one guy who was very helpful, but appeared to be the only one who spoke English...he also disappeared right after I ordered!) but if you are a fan of xiaolong bao, I'd urge you to give this place a try.....boy are you in for a treat. Thanks again Gary for this spectacular recommendation!

upscale dining in Buffalo, NY

Agree with Left Bank rec. above (Full disclosure....I am friends with the owner)however I'm not sure I'd describe it as "upscale"...more of a comfy bistro/urban feel.... Here are some other spots you may also want to try.....

Rue Franklin is a very good French restaurant located on...Franklin St. Great service in a charming room.

Olivers, located on Deleware Ave. has been around forever, and has great food and really nice ambience.

A bit out of town, but Daniels, located in Hamburg NY (about 15-20 minutes south of downtown Buffalo)has tremendous food and is a true "fine dining" experience

Hope those help!

DeMarco's re-revisited

I agree completely with the OP...it's been about a year, but the last time I was there, we ordered both a square and a roun d (in the retsaurant) and it was terrific. As the OP stated, a very good approximation of the real thing. By all means, go to the restaurant, order a square, get past all the service issues, and sit back and enjoy a great slice.

Sep 29, 2006
Howgart in Manhattan

Great New Find In Paris---5th Arr. (Long)

Thanks all for the kind words. I have lurked on these boards for years, only posting occasionally. But I have learned so much from all the folks here (including many of the folks who responded to my OP)that I just wanted to give a little something back to this great community....so a big thanks to everyone!

Jm, I'm afraid my list is kind of boring, and contains mostly the usual suspects (many, in fact gleaned from this very board). I'm kind of a creature of habit, and when I find places I like, I tend to keep going back. So, I'll list some of my faves (in or near the 5th) but I suspect the list will dissapoint you. Nonetheless, here goes:

Le Reminet
Chez Rene (always feels like I've come home!)
Ze Kitchen Gallerie (always interesting and exciting combination of ingredients)
Le Boquinistes (touristy, but reliable)
Benoit (for their great cassoulet)
Restaurant Le Christine (part of the hotel)
Le Comptoir
Atelier Maitre Albert (good, simple rotisserie)
Brasserie Balzar
Le Petit Pointoise
Maree Verte
Chez Paul (good and different specials and wines from the Jura region---very "homey")

As I said, not really exciting, but I've come to like each for various reasons. If anyone has others in or around the fifth I need to try,please let me know what I'm missing! Once again, thanks to all!

Aug 18, 2006
Howgart in France

Great New Find In Paris---5th Arr. (Long)

I was in Paris over the weekend (usually get there 3-4 times/yr.)staying at my favorite hotel in the 5th. Saturday happened to be my birthday and I was alone, so I asked one of the folks at the hotel for a dinner recommendation. I said I was looking for something nice but not real high-end (which, being August, was mostly not an option anyway).

The gentleman I asked recommended a brand new place that had been open less than 2 months, and which was literally a 2 minute walk from the hotel (The hotel is very near Le Reminet, where I usually make a stop. But again, being August, they were closed). He described it as a "Gastronomic Restaurant". I decided to give the new place a try, and was very pleasantly surprised with the results.

The name is "La Partage" Restaurant (La Partage meaning, the owner informed me, "The Sharing"). It is located at 17, rue Frederic sauton (about a one minute walk from the corner of Boulevard St. Germain and Rue Lagrange). It is a tiny sliver of a place, with maybe 12-15 tables. The interior is very nicely done with light wood tones and mirrors throughout. The owners obviously put a lot of care and thought into creating a refined, but very warm space.

The menu was very well thought out with probably 7-8 entrees (starters or appetizers) and 7-8 Main Plates. I chose the foie gras as a starter and the Duck Breast "steak" as a main plate.

The meal was preceeded by a very nice "amuse bouche" trio of a tasty gazpacho in a shot glass,a mushroom tapenade on baguette, and a slivered and seared eggplant dish. All were terrific.

The foie came with a very interesting banana compote on the side and several pieces of excellent toasted baguette. It was rich, smooth, creamy, and the compote added a unique additional kick.

The duck (cooked medium rare) was served perfectly done. It was encrusted in a light rub (sorry, unsure what it was) and served on top of a very light (in texture) curry-based emulsion. The flavors were perfect,and I really loved how they all blended together. Accompanying was a bowl of lightly whipped and fluffy sweet potatoes. With the meal, I had a very nice, reasonably priced bottle of Burgundy. By the time dessert rolled around, the Burgundy was mostly gone, and for the life of me I can't remember what I had for dessert (I remember liking it very much though!). Excellent digestifs completed a perfect evening. Total bill including a bottle of wine and several expensive digestifs was 120 Euro.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the service. After the meal, the chef came out an sat down to chat for a while. He asked my opinion on everything from the wine to the main dishes. He could not have been nicer, and really gave me the impression he cared, telling me "next time you come back, let me know you're here, and I'll cook whatever you like." Wow!

The other service highlight was a woman who said she was an owner (not sure if she was the only one) and was also working that night as a server, busser, etc. She hailed from Spain, and had moved to Paris to pursue an acting career, while also fulfilling her dream of some day opening a restaurant. Several times during the meal she stoppped by to chat (each time asking if she could join me at the table)and one time she sat down and serenaded me with a very sweet(and thankfuly soft) feliz cumpleanos (happy birthday)sung in Spanish (I had mentioned to the chef in passing that it was a great way to celebrate my birthday). I am not usually one to engage in lots of conversation with restaurant service (just prefer the typically European model where they are there to serve a meal and not be your best friend) however, this woman was so throughly charming and engaging, that I just couldn't resist. As the name she chose for the restaurant implies, "Sharing" is what this place is all about.

By all means if you are in this area, I would urge you to try this place. It has all the charm and good cooking of Le Reminet, and the owners are so nice, that I am really pulling for them to succeed. All in all, it was a perfect way to spend a rainy birthday eve in Paris.

Aug 15, 2006
Howgart in France