Farm to Table Fairytale in WNY

“Okay, I feel like I’m in a Hallmark movie.” – @chessabond

Any second, Reese Witherspoon was going to walk in to the party donning a stunning makeover from her neighbor and lock eyes with the strapping man who moved back to his hometown to care for his Mother and run the family farm while building houses with his bare hands and donning a dirty-yet-clean unbuttoned plaid shirt with his best jeans for the night.

Farm to Table, Medina NY

Now the exterior scene is set for the 3rd Medina Farm to Table dinner that shuts down Main St. every summer and fills the air with laughter, music, and wine bottles popping.

We’ve told you once, we’ll tell you twice- Beau and I hail from Niagara County originally and take it pretty seriously when something incredible is happening up in ‘the country’ towns. It’s equally important to pay attention to our hometowns if they are making an effort to preserve and start something new in order to thrive and grow. We truly never knew about this humble, delicious event until we met up with Scott and Alix of the Shirt Factory Cafe (and boomerangs of WNY, who host the blog In a DC Minute). We had followed one another for a while on social and when the two took over the Shirt Factory Cafe in Medina, they invited a small handful of influencers out to test an upcoming Toast Bar they’re releasing and to talk about how Medina is changing. (see our visit to their cafe here!)

After conversing about childhood, hometowns, farms, city life, teaching, food, social media, and the interesting fact that Buffalo is pretty behind regarding the use of their micro-influencers…Scott and Alix invited us to the Medina Farm to Table Dinner that was developed this year by Zambistro (the original inception restaurant of the event), Mile 303, Mariachi de Oro, Sourced Market & Eatery, and Shirt Factory Cafe. All are local Medina restaurants collaborating to put on a 200 person dinner in the middle of the Main St.. The Orleans Renaissance Group hosts the dinner and it typically sells out in under 2 hours. You can get your tickets next year at MedinaAlive.com

Lobster & Corn Hush Puppy, Zambistro

Okay, so you’ve been to a farm to table event. So have we. But not like this. Medina literally shuts down their street and lines up two huge, long tables which are set with wine glasses for pairings, silverware, simple yet stunning Joanna Gaines-style fresh flowers, live music from Dark Road Duo and Road to Azure, and an entourage of servers delivering food to you as chefs and winemakers stand by your table to share the ingredients and design of each course. There are 200 people here- more than your usual event- and each restaurant serves up a different course which ultimately proves the massive collaboration. We were seated with Scott and Alix who graciously and brilliantly gave us the history and connections of all the owners, chefs, building owners, and family involved. We needed a map! Another influencer, Francesca Bond- a writer for Step Out Buffalo, The Buffalo News, and her own blog Vintage Lillies – sat across from us. To our immediate right were total strangers who became friends by the end of the first course.

Corn, Beets, and Some Berries Walk In To A Bar, Mile 303

Everyone was so damn friendly and happy, how could this not be a movie? All proud (and rightly so) of their town, this event, and having visitors come in to see what it is all about. The scene was perfect since Medina has kept their original buildings and did not fully give in to urban renewal. The canal sat within feet of us and we noticed that almost all of the storefronts were occupied whether it was restaurants, barber shops, paint studios, or the local lady who sews anything you require. Of course we found one degree of separation or at least the knowledge of one anothers’ town- like the older gentleman diagonal from me who lived on a road in Newfane across from my childhood home, the gal who grew up in Albion and knows the old cobblestone homes of the Bacon Family on my maternal side, and retired teachers who knew some people we name-dropped from Lockport and Medina. The beauty of strangers sitting side by side as the sun glistened atop architectural peaks at sunset.

Mariachi de Oro

The food was incredible. Fresh, delicious, beautiful. Almost all ingredients used were also from the local Canal Village Farmer’s Market in town. (*squee!* we love it!) We had no idea this town boasted such a culinary surprise. Wine pairings were collaborations with other Niagara and Orleans County makers like Schulze, Chateau Niagara, Leonard Oakes, Freedom Run, 810 Meadworks, and Liten Buffel. Hearing from local owners and Scott himself, the returning generation is working toward reviving this town little by little and opening their doors and arms to any and all who are curious to explore.

‘Eh, the drive is far.’ Oh boo hoo, people. You’ll miss out on a lot of things in WNY if you have that mentality still. If you stop and think about it, we have so many towns and communities within a small radius that are hidden gems and are begging to be polished and history to be re-learned. Our renaissance isn’t just in Buffalo- it’s in our whole region of Buffalo Niagara. The trickle effect of success is seeping out beyond the downtown walls and incredible. 

Berry Chocolate Cake, Shirt Factory Cafe

We’ll be talking about the Medina Farm to Table Dinner for a while. That’s how memorable and fun it was. We are so glad we have teamed with Scott and Alix and look forward to the next adventures we can uncover in Medina…and within other towns. We are glad to have met the charming Francesca Bond who is a young lady going places with her writing and immense experience at such a young age. We are glad to have met the locals of Medina, swap travel stories, escape a wine fiasco, and give a standing ‘O’ to the chefs and servers at the end. Keep exploring and keep learning- it’s how our part of New York is going to thrive.

Chicken 3 Ways, Zambistro

The perfect blurry night selfie with Scott and Alix

Date Night: The Best View of Buffalo Is Here

@sbronkie1@sbronkie1

Last Friday night was date night, as always. It’s one of my favorite nights because it is usually a guarantee that Beau and I will go out to eat somewhere new. We are tired from the week, know we have a packed weekend, and realize we will only have a couple of hours to hang out before it’s witching hour…aka- bedtime for 10 month old parents.

I secretly like when Beau makes reservations and doesn’t tell me where. Chloe would be coming with us (the norm) and he said we would be downtown. Hmmm. Then he said Panorama on Seven inside the Marriott Harborcenter. Wahoo! I had only been to events in their rooms the past two years so I was excited to eat there FINALLY. But with Chloe?

Right off the bat, Panorama was accommodating. We chose our table on the semi-quiet evening and they had a high chair for Chloe. A baby in a nicer place? You cray, Buffalovebirds. Yes and no. Chloe is a super chill and happy baby so we have been able to take her everywhere without a peep. Will that change? I’m sure. But for now we’re using it to our advantage. The lights were dim and the view of Canalside was so fun. You can see the ice skaters on the rink- it’s like watching one of those Christmas snow globes your grandma had where there’s little tiny ice skaters on a pond.

@panoramaonseven

We first ordered the Butternut Bisque and a Beet Salad. Well, dang. Simple and delicious. Chloe got to try the bisque, which she approved of tenfold. She ate most of our beets, which is fine. Baby munchkin prefers eating what we do now. Her book was in hand and she grinned ear to ear when we gave her bits of dinner.

Beau had the Prime Rib Grilled Cheese and I opted for the Bolognese- both of which were wonderful. Our server Yonis was excellent- always checking in on us and making sure any food Chloe was going to test did not have pepper or spices in it. We didn’t even ask- he just took the reigns. Service!

We ordered a side of Sweet Potato Mash for Chloe, which they even garnished for her. She had been quiet and smiley the whole evening. If she could have, she would have eaten the whole bowl of mash. It was delicious, we don’t blame ya kid.

Get it, girl

We made brief conversation with an older couple nearby who commented on how well-behaved Chloe is. (Yay, now don’t fail us Chloe!) Our tiny trick we do now when we are out to eat with her is requesting the bill right before we are finished. Beau makes sure to explain everything is great but we just prepare to exit before any malfunction. LOL Yonis scurried, mentioning he had something to bring for us.

Out comes a to-go box of their Sponge Candy Cheesecake for us to take home. Omg, someone knows the secret to our hearts! It was so nice of Panorama to send this off with us! I could tell Beau was thinking he could eat all of it before I even took a bite. There were pieces of sponge candy and dried cherries inside too and we informed Chloe she couldn’t have any. Luckily, she’s language-less right now.

As we packed up Chloe, I ran in to a co-worker and his friends so we said hello and did intros. He brought his crew to eat at (716) and brought them up to Panorama to show off the view. Rightly so, cause it may be the best in Buffalo right now. During daylight, you can see the city, Canalside, and the water. Love.

Before heading out, we inquired about their meeting spaces since Beau hosts clients and colleagues for events periodically at work. They have their M Lounge which is more casual for Marriott guests and beside their large event venues they have a great Boardroom capable of holding 12-14 people. Great view to show off to people!

We had a truly wonderful experience at Panorama and that was makes us want to return again and again and also to share with people what it is like. It’s a great spot for date night, hanging out for a drink or two with friends at the bar, and if you have a super well-behaved Baby then absolutely. (*if Chloe was not that way, we would not be taking her to places. not everywhere is for the two foot tall humans)

Chloe waiting for the elevator. Clearly something is funny.

Thanks, Panorama! We had a great night and can’t wait to visit again!

DETAILS:

Panorama on Seven // inside Harborcenter Marriott // 95 Main St. Buffalo

Parking: use valet! A tip given to us for next time. We had parked inside the Harborcenter ramp ($3)

Great for date night, friends, brunch // Business casual & clean

Follow them on social: @panoramaonseven

@stepoutbuffalo

Chocolate Date for the New Generation: Platter’s Chocolates


We love chocolate. Lots of it. So when we were invited to go hang out at Platter’s and experience their place, there really was no question on if we should go or not.

We noticed Platter’s Chocolates new digs up on Niagara Falls Boulevard in November of 2016 when they opened their new shop. Located in the old Wurlitzer building, they’re more than just a spot to grab some candy- it’s become a full-on destination filled with a modern industrial design and cozy hangout areas for anyone to chill at. Platter’s started with a husband and wife team in 1938 who created their chocolate in their home. After retiring in the late 60’s, a former neighborhood kid bought it in 1972 and kept the tradition while growing at the same time. The family continues on with making it bigger and better!


Saturday afternoon we headed up to North Tonawanda with BabyLovebird Chloe in tow, expecting to peruse shelves full of chocolate. But hold the phone- this place is WAY more than we thought it would be. We were greeted by bright and bubbly Nicole, one of the managers and also part of the owner’s family. Their new location has coffee, lattes, teas, Perry’s ice cream, sundaes, candy, sponge, smoothies, chocolate…it’s a complete surprise when you walk in!

we’re suckers for some good plants

 

 


The space is huge and has nook areas with seating, fireplaces, tv’s, and large windows that look in to their candy and chocolate factory. (of course there are still shelves filled with chocolates and gifts to grab) We both opted for coffee- one iced with Toasted Marshmallow and another hot with orange chocolate- and Beau HAD to get the orange sponge sundae.

 

 

Poor Chloe!! Sorry, baby, you can’t have any yet!The place was bustling; filled with kids and families…a mom and her two college-aged daughters…an older gentleman sitting and reading the paper with his coffee…it’s a new generation of chocolate shops.

While there is no sponge production to watch right now (since it’s humid in the summer!), the machines and operations were all quiet. But come fall, the place will be making and baking like crazy. You will be quite surprised how large their 24,000 square-foot space is and the various types of machinery they use (some even from Germany!).

You can see inside their production room!


Now you can’t pass by Platter’s- you have to go see for yourself! (psstt! It’s only minutes away from the Boulevard Mall) It is too charming not to go again and again and again. We are looking forward to visiting soon to watch the Platter’s and the Chocolate Factory work their magic come sponge season!

Details

  • Platter’s Chocolates / The Wurlitzer Building, 908 Niagara Falls Blvd. / North Tonawanda, NY 14120
  • 716-693-5391
  • M-F 7am-10pm…Saturday 8am-10pm…Sunday 10am-10pm (they’re open late!!)
  • grab chocolate gifts, watch them making sweet treats
  • perfect for family, kids, solo, casual first date, dessert, coffee date
  • Platter’s Chocolates Facebook

 

  • The Orange Chocolate custard with Orange Chocolate Fudge and Orange Chocolate Sponge! Whoa. So damn good!


    they even have teamed up with the new events space inside the Wurlitzer building to have their Chocolate and Sponge at weddings held there!

Eckl’s Family Date Night

We feel like bad Buffalonians! We had never been to Eckl’s and we were reminded to check it out when we finished devouring our Beef on Weck at their Taste of Orchard Park tent. Known as one of the top places in WNY to get the beef, we also discovered that they are LITERALLY right down the road from where we live. How have we been so clueless?!

there is another side to the menu, too!
Ok, so we went and we’re not on the naughty list anymore.

It was a family affair- meaning Chloe was included. The munchkin is such a piece of cake (knock on wood) that she has been bellying up to restaurants with us recently. Baby-friendly ones of course. **a list of those places will come soon!**

BabyLovebird, Chloe
The hidden gem is legitimately hidden….on Ellicott Rd. in Orchard Park, off of Route 277. It’s inside one of the oldest homes in OP- 201 years old!- and has that homey feel once you step inside. Many tables, wood panel walls, sectioned rooms, and a bar where everybody knows your name. (we bet you’re singing the ‘Cheers’ theme song now) The restaurant has occupied the building since the early 1900s and officially became Eckl’s in 1934. They’re known for their top-of-the-line Certified Black Angus top round Beef on Weck.

Everyone waiting on us was extremely friendly and cheerful, which always makes or breaks a meal. As usual, we tried numerous plates….then came the beef.

beef on weck
The cool thing about the beef is that it’s cut thicker and has very little, if any, fat on it. We can understand why they’re known for this. We’ll be back.

Details:

Eckl’s 4936 Ellicott Rd. Orchard Park, NY 14127 // 716.662.2262 

reservations for over 6 people Sun.-Thurs. // no reservations Fri. or Sat.

family friendly / fun date / kid approved / comfort food

relish tray…old school!

we are kinda obsessed with beef on weck egg rolls that keep popping up around town

bacon-wrapped scallops

potato pancakes

Daddy Beau & Chloe O.

 

Family Date: BabyLovebird’s First Restaurant at Yoshi

Somehow, we are lucky. Chloe is a super happy, chill, go-with-the-flow baby. Up until she was born we ran through one major scenario (at least it was major to us): Could she handle public places? No= If she goes ape, we take her out. Yes= cool, let’s do this.

yoshi
Chloe is now 4 months old and we made the decision that it was time…time to take her for our fav cuisine: sushi. We’ve been itching to check out Yoshi since it opened late winter 2017. Located on the popular Elm St. in East Aurora, when we got wind that one of the chefs was a previous Seabar dude there was no question we knew this would be great. We passed by it ALL THE TIME when we were grabbing juices at Kornerstone and brunch at Elm St. Bakery…so we went for it. WITH CHLOE.

uh oh, here comes a baby…walking to Yoshi
I called for a reservation (just in case!) and asked my new-Mom question, ‘Is this cool for babies or…no?’ We were told it’s totally fine and that made us feel a little better. Our decisions on where we hit up now depends on if it can handle a small fry. (It’s our opinion to take the babe to appropriate places- no telling you what’s right and wrong here about babies in public) Upon arrival, the sun was shining and Yoshi’s outdoor space was full; inside was quite busy and luckily they saved us a table that had a perfect nook to keep Chloe and her seat in. The vibe inside is cool- modern, clean, light.

Yoshi’s menu is packed with sushi, sashimi, rolls, apps, and specials. Lunch is available during the day, too.

Beau started with sashimi:

I got this, guys
We split the Pork Gyoza (more, please!) and an Anaconda Roll (which sparked us to mutter Sir Mix-A-Lot lyrics under our breath because 1990s kids).

pork gyoza // anaconda roll
So how was Chloe doing? She was great! And even topped off her bottle feeding while laying in her seat. A few whimpers began and we silently panicked. Oh no, was she going to be a Debbie Downer? A quick escape with Dad to burp outside and all she needed after that was to sit on Beau’s lap the rest of the meal. This baby wants nothing more than to chill at the table with people and be part of the action. Okay, kid.

whoa, are you seein’ this, Mommy?
Our second round included the Scallop Crudo (topped with an edible flower, which Chef Kenneth Legnon let us know they get all of theirs from Buffalo local Vertical Fresh Farms). Well, these were delicious! Thinly sliced…with blood orange and puffed rice.

scallop crudo
We finished off with the Short Ribs which melted off the bone. Now THAT was hard to share…the Chef came over to say hello and talk about some details on our plates, giving us a better look in to the artistry around Yoshi’s menu. We expressed how excited we were that the Southtowns finally had a sushi place near us that stood out and rose above. Definitely will be on our go-to places from here on out.

short ribs
As for Chloe O.? BabyLovebird was quiet and observant the whole way through. Her first [inside] restaurant experience was a win and now we can ‘test her out’ at other spaces. Date night hasn’t died- it’s just a little cuter.

 

Get the Details:

Yoshi // 33 Elm St. East Aurora, NY 14052 // 716.714.9372

Tues-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm & 4:30-9:30pm // Saturday 12pm-10pm // closed Sunday

park on Elm St. or appropriate lots nearby (AFTER hours, please!)

great for date night, lunch date, date with friends, bringin’ chill kids, sushi date

*walk around East Aurora afterward! You can check out Roycroft Campus and pick up some local art, catch a movie at the vintage Aurora theatre, or nosh on chocolates at Mambrino King!

hey, guys!

hid the baby // stealth-mode

Quick Date: Hali Boyz Mexican-American Grille

Hali Boyz is one of those rare places we find ourselves completely SALIVATING over the next day.

Two brothers from LA, Malak and Nour, came to Buffalo and opened up shop on Amherst St. after discovering Buffalo could really use some authentic and unique Mexican food. The cool thing about these bros is that they’re half Mexican and half Lebanese which, in our opinion, means it’s no joke when it comes to food and making sure their customers are happy.

Hali Boyz is located at 338 Amherst St. (in the former Lucy Ethiopian which is now at 916 Tonawanda St.) and is filled with cool urban graffiti, hi-top counter seats, and three tables. It’s a walk-up order counter and you kinda start to glaze over in choices when you read the menu. You want everything. When in doubt, ask the brothers for a suggestion. They led me to the Torta. Always a classic.

hali boyz menu and walk-up counter


urban graffiti


Made on spot, they crafted my carne asada torta- mixed with beans, onions, cilantro, mayo, and queso fresco. Always wanting to ‘eat how the locals do’, I asked if I was to add anything. The answer: do you like spicy? The response: hell yes. Red salsa it is.

Not playing around. Legit heat. And that is fine by me. (you can opt for less kick if need be.) The torta? *the angels of heaven sing a chord* All of the flavors compliment one another and you feel satisfied after- and this is the part where you want another one the next day.

carne asada torta *nomnomnom


This was a solo date for me and I can’t wait to bring Beau here- he will flip with happiness. Beau was a Cali boy having lived in LA and worked at a local cantina. Hard to impress. The brothers knew what I meant by this- ya gotta find the real goods once you move away from the authentic place! And here it is- in Buffalo.

Get the Details:

Hali Boyz / 338 Amherst St. Buffalo / parking across the street in the Polish Cadets lot (yes, it is free!)

eat in / take out / late night

perfect for: date night, lunch date, solo date, kid-friendly, quick bite, date with friends

Sunday-Thursday 11am-10:30pm / closed Friday / Saturday 11am-11:30pm

Black Rock neighborhood / authentic Mexican-American

 

-Lindsay