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Mercado moves within striking distance of Indiegogo goal

Unlike its monthlong Kickstarter campaign that fell well short of its $150,000 goal, Mercado has raised more than $63,000 toward its new $70,000 objective in fewer than 10 days.

According to the fundraiser page for Mercado, which intends to be a "revolutionary" market headlined by nationally acclaimed chef Scott Kollig and supported by hand-picked vendors such as Lloyd Taco Trucks, the initiative remains $6,709 short of its goal with less than two days to go.

Reaching the financial goal isn't of paramount importance with this Indiegogo campaign, however, as Mercado will keep the money raised regardless of whether $70,000 is eclipsed by 11:59 p.m. on April 16 -  the chief difference between the Kickstarter and Indiegogo platforms.

As News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau explained earlier this month, Mercado - the brainchild of Jeremy Horwitz, a former Buffalo food blogger - will use the crowd-sourced money as "seed money" that will be pooled together with sums from other sources to satisfy the project's total cost, which Mercado publicist Nanette Tramont expects to range between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Major questions remain unanswered, though, which lends intrigue to the closing days of the campaign.

Will the local vendors remain as eager to be involved once the second fundraiser concludes? Will Mercado scale down its project since raising the original goal of $150,000 appears unattainable?

- Ben Tsujimoto


Brodo restaurant, a soup star on Main St. in Snyder, closes for good

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Brodo has closed. 

The restaurant, at 4548 Main St. in Snyder, was known for its soup offerings.

Owner Elaine Greco said she was retiring to spend more time with her family. She offered her loyal patrons her sincere thanks.


Black Swan, replacing Cozumel, bringing modern lounge setting to Elmwood Ave. this summer

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Black Swan, the restaurant replacing Cozumel, plans to open this summer with a sophisticated lounge-style place with small plates and craft cocktails.

Owners Monique Fortunato-Lester and husband Bryan Lester, a partner at Vera Pizzeria, are busy working out the details at 153 Elmwood Ave. “We’re hoping to be open by July or August, mid- to late summer,” she said.

“We’re creating a place for the young professional population of Buffalo to dine and drink, Fortunato-Lester said. “My husband and I travel a lot, and we’ve noticed that this whole lounge philosophy is really big in places like New York, Chicago, Toronto, and there’s nothing like it in Buffalo right now.”

What’s the lounge philosophy? “What we want to do is create a place that’s really relaxing, chic, and modern, where you can sit back on a comfortable couch and enjoy a cocktail,” she said. Black Swan will be putting comfortable outdoor furniture on its spacious patio, Fortunato-Lester said.

It’ll seat about 40 in the lounge, 15 at high tables in the bar area, and another 12 at bar.

At present the menu includes small plates and gourmet bites.  They’re not sure about full entrees. They’re poring over every detail, she said. “Our couches are going to be custom made for comfort and style.”

Fortunato-Lester said Black Swan will aim to fill a gap in the city's restaurant offerings. “There’s really no place in Buffalo where you can go and kick back in a lounge setting and enjoy gourmet food and craft cocktails like that.”


Ristorante Lombardo April 30 wine dinner to celebrate Niagara Wine Country vintages

Niagara WIne Dinner-page-001

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

While Michael Chelus of Nittany Epicurian was writing about Western New York wine for the New York Cork Report, he came to the conclusion that Niagara and Lake Erie wines included some under-appreciated specimens.

So he decided to talk to local chefs about how those wines could be shown off in their best light. The result is a wine-pairing dinner at Ristorante Lombardo on April 30 featuring some of the best Arrowhead Spring Vineyards and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery have to offer.

If people like it, there may be more, he said.

The dinner is 6:30 p.m. April 30; call 873-4291 for reservations. It's $85 plus tax and tip. The menu is below:

preserved lemon, baby pea shoots, Maggie’s round cheese
with SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE, Leonard Oakes 2012

ricotta, mushrooms, amarena cherries, brown butter
with PINOT NOIR BARREL #44, Arrowhead Spring 2012
& BLAUFRÄNKISCH, Leonard Oakes 2012

fennel, toasted coriander seed, burnt orange
with RIESLING RESERVE, Leonard Oakes 2012

goat cheese polenta, blackberry gastrique
with ESTATE SYRAH, Arrowhead Spring 2010
& ESTATE SYRAH, Arrowhead Spring 2011

Florentine herb crust, Capezzana olive oil, pee wee potatoes
with ESTATE MERITAGE RESERVE, Arrowhead Spring 2008
& ESTATE MERITAGE RESERVE, Arrowhead Spring 2010

nut brittle, wildflower honey
with VIDAL ICE WINE, Leonard Oakes 2012


Owners of East Aurora's Medici House opening Theas, an Ethiopian restaurant, next door

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Named after a type of Ethiopian wolf, Theas will offer Ethiopian cuisine at 634 Main St., in East Aurora.

Opening April 21, it'll be next-door neighbors to Medici House, the former Tantalus, longtime flagship of East Aurora restaurateurs Laurie Kutas and John Rooney. 

After cooking Ethiopian at home for years, and getting it during their travels to Washington, D.C., Toronto and other destinations, they decided it was time to offer the African cuisine to the Southtowns.

Rooney said nothing will change at Medici House. The pair has long harbored dreams of an Ethiopian place, and with two Ethiopian places open in Buffalo, it seemed like the right time. "We felt that the community is accepting it, so it's probably our time," he said. "We're not getting any younger, either." 

Theas will offer lunch and dinner seven days a week, 40 to 50 seats, and a full bar, he said.

The menu will be vegan and vegetarian intensive, with extensive vegetable, greens and legume offerings in addition to meat dishes, Rooney said. (He noted that Theas is already fully reserved for the opening day, April 21.)



Watch how paper-thin dough for every Balkan Dining Bosnian pita is made to order



By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The pita is the most remarkable item for sale at Balkan Dining, a little Bosnian place in Tonawanda, at 687 Kenmore Ave. It starts with a sort of handmade phyllo dough that is made fresh for every pita, whether it's stuffed with spinach and cheese, spiced beef and onion, mushrooms, or potato.

News photographer Sharon Cantillon captured the dough-making process in the skilled hands of Aida Hamzic. Check out the whole article here.

What will one cost you? Twenty minutes of your time, for it to bake - and a measly $5.


BreadHive, cooperative bakery selling sourdough, real NY bagels, sets April 12 open house

BreadHive sourdough

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Buffalo has a long history of hippie bakeries, including Yeast-West Bakery, a cooperative bakery whose popular whole-grain bread and other products found welcome buyers from the Lexington Coop to Tops supermarkets before closing in 1996.

Last week, loaves of crusty hearthbaked sourdough bread started appearing on Lexington Coop shelves, along with displays at Snyder’s Farmers & Artisans and Guercio’s & Sons. BreadHive has brought the cooperative bakery back, buoyed by local consumers’ increasing willingness to seek out local, organic food.

“We’re offering something people are very interested in – ‘authentic’ bread that tastes really good,” said partner Allison Ewing. A grand opening, offering a peek inside their operation at 123 Baynes St., samples, and drinks, starts 5 p.m. April 12.

BreadHive’s products are available at those retail locations, or through buying a bread subscription. Those start at $20 a month, for a loaf a week, which customers pick up from the bakery. It’s about six blocks north of Five Points Bakery, which has been setting a new standard for handmade bread on the West Side since 2009, albeit entirely made from whole grain. BreadHive will use some white flour, but mostly whole-grain, and it's all GMO-free, unbleached, unbromated flour, said partner Victoria Kuper.

Ewing, from Atlanta, Emily Stewart, from Nashville, Tenn., and Kuper, from Rochester, sought to tap into the community’s cooperative bakery history before starting their business.

“Early on in our process we made a point to round up as many members of Yeast-West Bakery, and sort of pick their brains,” said Ewing. “What was successful? What would they do differently?”

After research, they decided to incorporate as a cooperative, offering shares to partners. So far, 29 people have invested $1,000 or more for a minor share in the bakery, which includes a year’s worth of bread, and a small return on their investment, among other things. (There is room for more investors, if you’re interested, Ewing said.)

The flagship product is sourdough bread, fermented with wild yeast overnight before it’s baked, in the pain de levain style. You can’t find anything like it in city limits, and East Aurora’s Elm Street Bakery is the closest outlet with that sort of bread, Ewing said.

But close behind are the New York style bagels, presently only available at Farmers & Artisans. The partners know that advertising New York style bagels means they will have to face the challenge of satisfying the pickiest bagel eaters in town. “Bring it on,” Stewart said.

Fermented then boiled, the bagels are labor intensive, but that’s what it takes. “I lived in New York for several years before coming here, and I definitely mourned the loss of a really great, traditional style New York bagel,” said Kuper. “When we were doing test batches we’d bring them around, and people would just bite into a chewy outer crust and soft, chewy interior, and they would breathe a sigh of relief and start telling me about their childhood in Brooklyn.”

Photo: BreadHive sourdough, by Anna Miller


Restored Ulrich's 1868 Tavern expects to welcome diners, drinkers again in late May

Sal Buscaglia works on restoring Ulrich's

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

After extensive repairs designed to highlight and preserve the building’s historic details, Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern is on track to open in the second half of May, said Salvatore Buscaglia, who is opening a new restaurant in the historic building.

“I haven’t subcontracted out any of the work,” said Buscaglia, who is a finish carpenter by trade.

Buscaglia, owner of Snooty Fox Lounge on Delaware Avenue, will run the restaurant at 674 Ellicott St. He's leasing the space from owner Tom Eoannou, and has undertaken extensive repairs to plumbing and other building systems. The restaurant should seat 100 on the first floor, in the dining room and restored bar, he said.

Polish sausage, sauerkraut, burgers, healthy salads, pastrami and Italian classics will be on the menu, he said. Plus potato pancakes, of course.

There will be beer, as befitting the city's oldest tavern. One of the upgrades will be a new chilled 10-line draft beer system. "We're going to get it done right," Buscaglia said.

Above: Buscaglia works on a light fixture. Photo: Mark Mulville / The Buffalo News




Artisanal food center Mercado Revolution takes Indiegogo route after Kickstarter drive falls short

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

After seeing its $150,000 Kickstarter pledge drive reach about three-fifths of its goal, Mercado Revolution is not giving up. Organizers have downsized its fundraising goal and relaunched it as an Indiegogo campaign.

Pledges will go to the project whether it reaches its $70,000 goal or not. It probably will, since by Monday, it had reached about $40,000, with 10 days left.

Proposed as a gourmet food court populated by local artisanal foodmakers and local restaurants, Mercado Revolution was announced with a Kickstarter funding invitation March 4. Before time ran out, 425 backers pledged $89,780 of its $150,000 goal.

Local partners announced so far include Lloyd taco trucks, Lake Effect Ice Cream, The Pasta Peddler, and The Bavarian Nut Company. Plans also include a pastry shop by Chef Monica Amtower, formerly of The Inn at Little Washington and Cafe Boulud, said Mercado spokeswoman Nanette Tramont. Local blogger Alan Bedenko said he will be part of an authentic Neapolitan pizza effort.

Creator Jeremy Horwitz plans to use the pledges as “initial seed money that will be combined with owner funding and funding from equity backers and banks to reach the total cost of the project, which is estimated at between $1 million and $1.5 million,” said Tramont.


A glimpse inside Thai House, serving up Burmese and Thai gems in Depew

Owno koksware at Thai House by Sharon Cantillon

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Thai House (5246 Transit Road, 601-7865, gives Asian food fans a terrific choice in Depew, as I detailed in yesterday's review.

Here's a photo gallery from News photographer Sharon Cantillon that gives you a glimpse inside the place, and color photographs of some of the dishes in the review. Above is the owno koksware, chicken soup with noodles, coconut milk and hardboiled egg.


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