It’s not easy to make something taste remotely like lush, beefy gravy without the use of meat or beef broth. But Chef Kate Elliott, who has recently taken over the kitchen at Merge, has done just that. More acidic, a bit lighter and vastly more complex than your typical brown gravy-laden shepherd's pie, her vegetarian rendition of this comfort food classic is sure to please anyone seeking a healthier option. But don’t allow her ability to prepare vegetarian dishes worth writing home about lead you to classify this restaurant as strictly vegetarian.
Merge promotes ethical eating, and so in addition to a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options, the menu boasts dishes featuring free-range chicken, wild caught salmon and, when in season, local organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Beer and wine are available, and with any luck, the full liquor license they’ve recently applied for will be in place soon.
Located on Delaware Avenue, in the block between Virginia and Edward, Merge has found an eclectic and dedicated following. During the day they function as a lunchtime cafe with a menu featuring hot items such as soup, pannini and wraps (falafel and eggplant wings, anyone?), as well as a refrigerated case of grab-n-go items like fresh juices, salads and hummus. In the evening they cater to the dinner crowd, with a bistro-style setting. At night, Merge transforms itself into a hotspot where DJs spin, bands play, artists hang their work and Gen Y kids hold meetings about social media and other such twenty-first century stuff.
If, like many others, you’ve always thought of Merge as strictly vegetarian, or too pricey for lunch, stop in soon. You’ll find your preconceived notions were slightly off the mark.
Merge, 439 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14202