Nov 10, 2013 1
Originally published in Forever Young magazine, August 2013
The Western New York area is filled with beautiful farms that produce a stunning bounty of vegetables, fruits, livestock, dairy, and more year-round. What you may not realize is that the restaurant industry is taking note and capitalizing on consumers’ desire to enjoy the seasonal harvest by passing the freshest local ingredients on to its diners. There is a growing number of farm to table dinner options in our area, and the late summer and early fall are primetime for their menus to shine. Farm to table restaurants are those with a desire to serve locally raised and sourced items that have menu items featuring ingredients from nearby farms, while farm dinners showcase local ingredients in a meal served right on the premises of a farm.
Located on Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood Village, Bistro Europa is a cozy and eclectic Buffalo restaurant specializing in European favorites with a focus on local and seasonal, sourcing a spectacular amount of ingredients from local farms. Owners, Steve and Ellen Gedra, prepare nearly everything from scratch, in-house. Some local farm partners include Weiss Farm, Dan Tower Farm, T-Meadow Farm, Painted Meadow Farm, Oles Farm, Singer Farm Naturals, Winter Farm, and Native Offerings. The restaurant focuses on simple and delicious dishes, from pierogi and bolognese to the ever-enticing sticky toffee pudding. Small plates range from $3-17 and entrees begin at $20.
For $150, Bistro Europa pairs with Oles Farm to host farm dinners with everything used in the meal besides the salt coming from the farm. Past menus included three starters, seven options served family style, as well as beverages and dessert. Transportation to and from the farm is included as well.
Carmelo’s menu says the following: “no farms, no food.” The neighborhood restaurant in Lewiston makes no secret of the fact that they believe eating fresh, seasonal ingredients heightens one’s awareness of the bounty our region has to offer. The small restaurant offers exceptional service and fresh, quality food. Chef and proprietor, Carmelo Raimondi, carefully prepares an ever-changing seasonal menu to utilize the area’s latest and finest ingredients. Even the cocktails, wine, and beer have a local slant. For antipasti, salumi misti is a dish featuring T-Meadow Farms’ cured meats, pâté, and pickled mushrooms. The chef’s pasta, risotto, and polenta are all exceptional, as are the locally sourced meats. Antipasti starts at $5, primi dishes average $19, and secondi courses are about $25 each.
The Aroma Group, which includes Caffe Aroma, Vino Aroma, and two locations of Trattoria Aroma (one in Buffalo and another in Wiliamsville), holds an annual Aroma Farm Dinner Series. This year’s lineup features a trip to the Niagara wine country for a day of private wine and barrel tastings, vineyard walks, farm fresh food, and live music. The multi-course dinner takes place at Eveningside Vineyards, located at 4794 Lower Mountain Rd. in Cambria. The next two dinners will be held on Saturday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 14, both leaving from Trattoria Aroma restaurants at 2:00 p.m. Reservations are required. And transportation is included. Tickets are available via Brown Paper Tickets and a link is available on The Aroma Group’s website: www.thearomagroup.com.
The latest restaurant to join the area’s farm-to-table scene is Bloom, a restaurant in the Athenaeum Hotel at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, which opened earlier this summer. Bloom was designed to provide an exciting experience in locally sourced dining and Chef Ross Warhol delivers with an impressive menu boasting ingredients exclusively from area farms. Farms featured include Busti Mills, Green Heron Growers, Painted Meadows, Lapps Dairy Farm, Abers Acres, Rahal Farms, Haff Acres Farm, and more. Every Friday and Saturday, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Bloom is open to the public. Guests may select an à la carte dinner or try the seven-course chef’s tasting menu, which changes slightly throughout the season in order to feature fresh, seasonal ingredients as they are harvested from local farms and the hotel’s own garden. Entrees start at about $32 and the chef’s tasting menu is available for $120.
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of farm to table dining is the dynamic nature of the cuisine. With seasonality as the focus, the constantly changing menus showcase both the latest to ripen and the last to be picked from the farm. Chefs can dazzle diners with their creativity as they prepare meals that let the local bounty shine. Perhaps most importantly, farm to table restaurants and dinners offer a warm way to learn more about where our food comes from and how we can better use local ingredients in our everyday lives. If you appreciate a bit of an educational experience while enjoying delicious cuisine, farm to table dining is for you. Don’t delay, though—the menu is evolving every minute, and you won’t want to miss what the season has to offer right now.
One Ames Ave.
Note: Bloom is no longer open.
484 Elmwood Ave.
425 Center St.
Trattoria Aroma on Bryant
307 Bryant St.
Trattoria Aroma on Main
5229 Main St.