The kids have returned to school, there is a chill in the air, and football is back. That quiet time that occurs between our festival-filled summer and the hubbub of the holidays is here. It’s my favorite time of year, and I’m sure that holds true for many others. One of my favorite aspects of fall is relatively new, in fact in Buffalo, this is only its third season. Local Restaurant Week–a time when restaurants work to woo new guests–is here!
That is the case, at least, for the restaurants I’ll be visiting this time around. It is the way restaurant week started in New York, as a method for attracting new clients to very fine restaurants. Initially, participating restaurants devised a reasonably priced overview of their evening menu and offered it at lunchtime. These establishments, for one week only, chose to downsize their portions, offer a limited menu, and put forward a concise example of their best offerings and overall dining experience. I believe the goal was to appeal to new clientele, and, I suppose in some ways, to entertain foodies on a budget with their more affordable temporary menu. It was huge success, and the concept moved from a week filled with exciting lunchtime offerings to discounted takes on the evening meal served during markedly slow times of the year. Again, it’s been so successful in New York, that other cities–like ours–have mirrored the effort.
Here in Buffalo, LRW asks restaurants to develop a dinner (and sometimes lunch) special that a guest can purchase for $20.10. At lunch and at some of the more casual dining restaurants, that is typically a meal for two. Some of Buffalo’s restaurants do an excellent job of holding true to the idea of putting their best foot forward during Local Restaurant Week, offering guests a serious value with high-quality food and service at a drastically discounted price. A few of the places I’ll try to squeeze in this time around are SeaBar, Sample, Oliver’s, Lombardo’s and Curly’s. The Roycroft and Della Terra are both stunning locations that also look like a great value. Since all of the restaurants have listed their special offerings on the Local Restaurant Week website, it makes it easy to plan ahead, and it would be my suggestion that the wise consumer do a little research.
Interestingly enough, according to the folks over at LocalFoodService.com, the industry organization that has taken over the nitty gritty aspects of organizing and running Local Restaurant Week, several of Buffalo’s restaurants are more than 25 years old, with Santasiero’s celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. So get out there and support the local independent restaurants of our region! Remember that they are not only major contributors to our region’s economy, but they have been (and will continue to be) an important part of our cultural identity.