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Perks Café offers simple dishes with decadent flavor

The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners.

Sitting in a sunny window across the street I marveled at the beautiful church in front of me. I’d passed this spot hundreds of times but never took the time to “look up” and admire the architecture of the St. Louis R.C. Church of Buffalo. Built in 1885 it was constructed with Medina Sandstone which can be seen in other constructions around Buffalo such as the Connecticut Street Armory, Buffalo Psychiatric Center, Trinity Episcopal Church and in some of the sidewalks on Symphony Circle. The stone was mined in Medina and transported along the Erie Canal to Buffalo but; it went further still. It can also be found as part of Buckingham Palace and the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Church is named for King Louis IX of France who ascended the throne at age 12 and for his many years of kindness to his people, especially the poor. Known as the “Peace King” he set an example as a ruler who not only gave to the poor but invited them to his table to feast with them. He was the only King of France to ever be canonized. The Feast of St. Louis is celebrated August 25th each year.

Fr. Salvatore Manganello commented about the church, “It’s beautiful, and it’s hard to be humble about it.” For the moment the magnificent architecture stands before me in it’s rough, reddish splendor, made by the hands of master craftsmen who lived over 125 years ago. And I sit here enjoying the view through the window of a new café in the neighborhood.

The first thing you notice about Perks Café (The Downtown Edition) is the space. It’s nearly 3 times the size of their Elmwood location. There’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the Bohemian-style atmosphere of art and music. Whether you stopped in to grab a quick cup of coffee on the way to work, study for a while, meet with friends or nosh a little and listen to some tunes; the staff at Perk’s welcomes you. The overall philosophy of Perks Café seems to welcome the ‘entire community’. There are signs all around the space touting LOVE and ACCEPTANCE and expressing that HATE has no home here. It’s a cool, safe vibe that makes the place feel very comfortable.

Perks’ menus are health and freshness driven with a strong Vegan and vegetarian presence while keeping us carnivores in mind too. They use local sourcing for their ingredients and no matter what your nutritional preferences I believe you’ll find something delicious on their menu. I was cruising by, saw the building, and one of their breakfast items popped in my head. I ‘had’ to have a Bryant Street breakfast sandwich; I just had to. I found a place to park, in I went and a short time later I had the Bryant Street in my grasp. The sandwich ($ 7.15) is made with “Two Eggs, Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, Arugula and Sliced Apples on an English Muffin”. It’s simple, and decadent, and has layers of flavor. It’s a two-napkin sandwich but well worth it.

With it I ordered a pistachio nut muffin that I spied in the pastry case. (Did I mention that pistachios are my all-time favorite nut?) The muffin ($3.00) was a brilliant green inside when I split off the muffin top. I could smell the aroma of Almond paste and, mixed with the pistachios inside; it tasted great.

I finished off my foray into the Perks menu with a Vegan, Dark Chocolate Frappe ($5.75). I negated the Veganicity of the drink (Veganness maybe?) by adding a shot of whipped cream to the top but; I had to have it. The chocolatey, coffee concoction hit the spot perfectly and, yes, for a moment there I did get a brain freeze. But it was cold and delicious on a hot Summer day.

Perks Café has breakfast and lunch menus but most things you can order at any time. They offer a selection of sausage, bacon, meats and cheeses as well as house-prepared Vegan sausage, Cashew cheeses and Vegan butter and cream cheese to schmear on your bagel. Two of my favorite Perks Café dishes are the Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad Wrap ($9.55) made with Chicken, Dried Cranberries, Green Apple, Walnuts, Red Onion, Mayonnaise, Greens, Salt & Pepper; and the Strawberry Arugula Salad ($9.00) made with Arugula, Sliced Apples, Candied Pecans, Dried Cranberries, Strawberries and Goat Cheese.

Perks Café also offers catering off it’s menu. If you’re hosting a meeting or just hosting some friends over for a game on TV or a night of cards Perks Café will prepare breakfast or lunch trays (various sizes) as well as dessert trays and coffee or tea totes for your get together. So, if you’re at the office or just chilling at home you can still ‘Perk’ up your day.

Ambiance: Industrial space with a welcoming Bohemian charm.
Menu: Locally sourced, customer driven and with excellent variety and great signature items.
Service: Staffing is light but they’re speedy. Quality does not suffer. Continued training in progress.

Perks Café | 448 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo, NY 14222 | 716 856 0709

Perks Café | 777 Main Street | Buffalo, NY 14203 | 716 370 0037


Series Sponsor: Urban Valet is a locally owned and operated, full service garment care company that offers a broad range of safe and environmentally-friendly cleaning options. They have three store locations and provide complimentary home and office delivery service throughout the WNY region. Home delivery can be scheduled every week or “on demand.” Urban Valet’s mission is to make life a little easier. Let them take care of your laundry & favorite duds, so you have more time to do the things you really enjoy! For more information, please visit

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Written by Phantom Diner

Phantom Diner

A Buffalo-based undercover restaurant reviewer. In conjunction with Buffalo Rising, this weekly series will present objective, honest reviews of WNY restaurants. What makes a restaurant great? Great cuisine, great service, and consistent delivery.

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