Nittany Epicurean’s Top 5 Meals of 2014

2014 was a great year for food and dining in Western New York. In looking back over the year, I truly enjoyed some of the best food I’ve had in the area in quite some time. I’ve reviewed all the pieces I’ve written in 2014 for my blog (The Nittany Epicurean) and put together a list of the Top 5 Meals of the year. Here they are in no particular order.

The first of the top meals of 2014 took place at one of my favorite places – Carmelo’s in Lewiston. In the middle of August, Chefs Carmelo Raimondi and David Murphy brought us plate after plate of incredible food. The meal included a simple, spectacular and nostalgic salad of freshly picked cucumbers and tomatoes that were harvested the day before our dinner.

cucumbers

Fresh Picked Cucumber & Tomato Salad

The meal also featured some amazing salumi that was beautifully plated with house pickled ramps and housemade pickles.

venison

Venison Prosciutto with house cured pickles and ramps

This was a classic meal at one of Western New York’s best restaurants. You can read all the details here.

The second top meal of 2014 came on my wedding anniversary in September at another one of my favorite spots – Elm Street Bakery. The meal featured all kinds of good things, including a wonderful cake from Chef Luci Levere.

cake

Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

The meal also featured the single-best plate of food I ate all year – a Wood Roasted Spiced Half Chicken.

chicken

Wood Roasted Spiced Half Chicken

This meal was just one of the great ones we’ve had at Elm Street Bakery since it started its dinner service with Chef Brad Rowell in March. It’s become my favorite dining spot in the Southtowns and one of the best in Western New York. You can read all the details of our anniversary meal at Elm Street Bakery here.

Another top meal of 2014 was very recent. In December, my wife and I finally had the chance to check out Chef Mike Andrzejewski’s Bourbon & Butter in the Hotel at the Lafayette. The menu from talented chefs, Christopher Daigler and Bruce Wieszala, features numerous small plates designed for sharing and several entrees. There wasn’t a bad plate that we ordered that evening. The meal featured a  gorgeous plate of plancha-grilled octopus.

octopus

Plancha Grilled Octopus with chorizo, Nano Riso rice, sweet chilies and vinegar.

The menu also featured an amazing dish of smoked pork belly.

belly

Smoked Pork Belly, truffled hash, crispy poached egg and maple.

All the details of our first trip to Bourbon & Butter can be found here.

In 2014, as part of my blog, I organized a series of dinners aimed to encourage education, appreciation and awareness of the great local wines being made in our backyard. The series is entitled, “Vine & Dine – A Celebration of Local Wine & Food”. The first dinner in the series that took place at one of the best restaurants in Buffalo – Ristorante Lombardo – landed on this list of top meals. It featured an amazing Prime Ribeye Fiorentino and shaved asparagus salad from Chef Michael Obarka.

asparagus

Shaved Asparagus Salad with preserved lemon, baby pea shoots and Maggie’s round cheese.

 

steak

Prime Ribeye Fiorentino with Florentine herb crust, Capezzana Olive Oil and pee wee potatoes.

Each course of this stellar meal was paired with great wine from Arrowhead Spring Vineyards in Lockport and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina.

You can read all the details of the first Vine & Dine dinner here. (An honorable mention to this list of Top Meals of 2014 was the second Vine & Dine dinner at Carmelo’s, which you can read about here.)

The last Top Meal of 2014 was at one of Buffalo’s best fine dining spots – Tempo Restaurant. This meal was comprised of course after course of great food from Chef Paul Jenkins. Case in point were his Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Saddle and Venison Stuffed Quail.

rabbit

Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Saddle.

 

quail

Venison Stuffed Quail.

All the details of this fine meal at Tempo can be found here.

So there you have it. A great year of dining and food in words and pictures. I look forward to what 2015 will bring. Stay tuned here as we’ll have our first stellar meal on What’s Going On In Buffalo? in the next few weeks. You won’t want to miss it!

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