Best of WNY 2011: Eat This V



Best Plating
Mike Andrzejewski of Sea Bar
They say we eat with our eyes before our mouths, and no chef in Buffalo understands that crucial relationship better than Mike Andrzejewski of the newly renovated Sea Bar. The contemporary interior of this hip downtown restaurant acts as an ideal gallery for "Mike A’s" elegantly plated dishes. Refinement and restraint are words that must be employed when describing his approach, and they work harmoniously when coupled with his mindful use of color and texture. This seriously beautiful food never fails to live up to the promise of its showy appearance. 475 Ellicott St., 332-2928

 

Best Up-and-Coming Chef
Ross Warhol
Warhol came up in the kitchen of the Southtowns’ best restaurant, Daniel’s. From there he went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, where he graduated at the top of his class. Additional training came in the form of internships at the other-worldly Ubuntu in Napa Valley, the exalted el Bulli in Spain, and at Chicago’s crown jewel, Alinea. Now Warhol has returned to WNY as head chef at Chautauqua’s grand Athenaeum Hotel. We’re thrilled to have him back amongst the fold, where his vision and talent will tickle the palates of locals for (we hope) many years to come.

 

Chef Who Should Host His Own TV Show
Chef JJ Richert of Torches
There’s more to Richert than his tattoos, piercings, and well-known penchant for lighting things on fire. In addition to turning out eclectic contemporary cuisine at his restaurant, Torches, he also works as a chef instructor at Auburn Watson Culinary Arts Center, a platform chef at the Taste of Buffalo, and has just completed his third season as a Nickel City Chef. Coupled with his approachable personality and commanding stage presence, Richert’s ability to instruct and inspire make him our clear choice for this category. 1141 Kenmore Ave., 447-7915

 

Most Fun Place to Eat
Sample
Love cocktail parties? Us, too! Trouble is, few of them have excellent food and killer cocktails. That’s where Sample comes in. Grab a table with a group of friends and enjoy gossip and handcrafted cocktails with a few tasty selections from the “shared plates” portion of the menu (lamb kroftes, mussels with fries), or sit alone at the hopping U-shaped bar; it’s just a matter of time before you and the atmosphere warm up to one another. Only here can you order a personalized selection of hors d’oeuvres to pair with your favorite mojito. The summer patio offers the opportunity to observe Allentown’s colorful street life. With a group or all alone, the next time you’re looking for a little fun, head over to Sample, a place where the party never stops. 242 Allen St., 883-1675

 

Best Waitstaff
Rue Franklin

From the moment you set foot inside this downtown gem, you are enveloped in a cocoon of meticulous, unobtrusive service. The waitstaff is only part of it, but it is an essential part. You may not know their first names, but they will advise you if needed, refill your water invisibly, and in every possible way make an already superb dining experience even better. 341 Franklin St., 852-4416

 

Best Farmers’ Market
Elmwood-Bidwell
One of WNY’s few producer-only farmers’ markets, this bustling urban bazaar foretells the beginning of summer and the end of fall in a way no weatherman ever could. Foodies in the know will quickly spot local chefs roaming the stands, selecting squash blossoms, rainbow-hued carrots, and hard-to-find greens. Handcrafted edibles such as local bread, yogurt, cookies, sausage, and juices are also readily available. Where our grandmothers spent Sunday afternoons in the churchyard, eating white cake and sipping coffee from foam cups with the neighbors, the new generation prefers to catch up at the farmers’ market, stroller or dog in tow, reusable bags in hand. www.elmwoodmarket.org

 

Best Martini
E. B. Green’s Steakhouse
The setting is classy and comfortable, and the famous sunken bar has plush chairs for relaxed lounging. The well gin is Gordon’s, an excellent brand. The olives are ice cold, plump, and delicious. The elements of the ideal martini are a matter of eternal controversy, but we’re sold on this steakhouse and this cocktail. Two Fountain Plaza, 855-4870

 

Best Manhattan
Mothers
The key to a good Manhattan is balance, and the barkeeps here strike the perfect balance, both in style—nothing flashy here, just a crew of true professionals—and in performance: They go easy on the mixers, allowing the spiciness of the rye to come through. Prefer bourbon? So be it; ask Sam to make your drink, and he will temper the caramel notes just right, delivering Buffalo’s best sipping experience. 33 Virginia Pl., 882-2989

 

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