Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tabree


Doug and I visited Tabree the night before I threw a big dinner party.  I wanted to escape the house for a great meal and some last minute inspiration before heading back into my own little kitchen.  


I had first heard of Bruce Wieszala, chef at Tabree, because of his appearance on Good Eats.  In my small world, it was mind blowing that someone who cooks food here in Buffalo had also cooked food with the love of my life, Alton Brown.  Ah, I'm so easily influenced, but the truth is Bruce has gained so much respect and notoriety in this area in a relatively short period of time.  His name is mentioned in the same breath as so many of the other outstanding chefs who are cooking impressive and delicious food in Buffalo.

Tabree, on Main Street is nestled next to the little Snyder library.  In the summers, their patio is open and I particularly enjoy sitting outside in the sunshine shoveling my face full of deliciousness as I watch healthy, attractive suburbanites jogging by.  Who's enjoying themselves more, really?  The answer is me.

We started with the asparagus soup and it was the smoothest soup I've ever had.  I know, it's a weird descriptor, but think about it -- Often, the asparagus isn't pureed fully and there is a stringy or slightly gritty texture to the soup.  This was silk.  It's also a very pretty presentation with the long slice of asparagus waving through it, the droplets of oil and sprinkle of coriander(?).  Outstanding.


As an appetizer, we ordered the crab cakes which came out light brown and crispy.  The herby sweetness of the crab cake went really well with the tartness of apple and fennel slaw.  Plus, there was quite a lot of crab packed in there.


At the time of this meal, I had been craving banh mi for weeks.  When I saw it on Tabree's menu, I hesitated because I simply wasn't there for just a sandwich.  Alas, I had to give in to the fact that this was literally calling my name.  And I am so glad I did.

The meat was tender, like pork belly.  It fell right apart with every bite (IMO, that' so important with thicker meats on a sandwich) and the viscous meaty-sweet sauce kind of soaked right into the top of the bread without making things soggy, it was so good.

Side note: I am reasonably certain that I will try any food that is put in front of me.  New foods and new flavors excite me and I can't think of a flavor that I actually hate.  But there are three things, three basic flavors, that I just have not been able to bring myself to love (...yet).  One is anise.  Jingle cookies are my worst!  Another is indian curry.  Though I have friends who are bound and determined to change my mind on this.  And the last is cilantro.

Now, I don't mind a hint of cilantro, but I always find that it overpowers a dish so easily.  I must have a cilantro-sensitive palate because I've asked people to explain to me this awful fad of adding fistfuls of it to any and every dish... and they look at me like a monster from another universe.  I am an outcast in a cilantro loving world.

So, after this lengthy justification, my point is that I had a few bites of my banh mi as served and then took out about 3/4 of the cilantro from the sandwich.

One of my favorite parts of the banh mi is the pickled veggies.  There weren't a ton on this one, so I thought it was missing some of that crunch that I really like, but when I did get bites with the veggies they were extra pickley (delicious!), so I understood why the sandwich wasn't overloaded with them.  I opened up my sandwich, spread the veggies around evenly and returned to enjoying every single bite.

If this sandwich looks yummy to you, and it should, stop in at Tabree and also check out Buffalo Eats Banh Mi Throwdown.



Doug ordered two appetizers as his entree.  A salad and a smoked shrimp dish.

The beet salad was served with arugula, micro greens and feta.  It was seasoned and dressed lightly, but there was plenty of flavor.  The beets were chilled and the feta was, truly, the best feta I can remember eating.  I would love to know what kind it was or where it came from.


His second dish was BBQ smoked shrimp with lentils.  It was an interesting combination of flavors.  The lentils were mildly seasoned, a good beany base that complimented the sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, but the star was definitely the smoked shrimp.  It really held that smokiness and were tender and nicely cooked.



A delightful consequence of living walking distance from Tabree means I have visited the restaurant again before posting my last meal.  Out of my now five visits, this most recent meal was my absolute favorite, namely because I was able to check an item off of my food bucket list (!).

My girlfriend Clark and I stopped in and ate at the bar.  We enjoyed a rose, saw some familiar faces and caught up with an old friend and each other.  We got to hear more about the plans that Tabree's owner has for a new oyster bar in Williamsville and it was a fun night.

The patrons were treated with a bar snack.  Crispy puffed crackling (fried pork skin).  It was salty and crunchy and fun to snack on.  I certainly don't have the skill that Bruce does, but crackling would be a fun experiment to try at home.


I ordered the octopus with chorizo sausage, beans and greens and a sherry vinaigrette.  The octopus is first cooked in a sous-vide and then lightly charred on the grill.  I was very surprised at how tender it was and even though I kept imagining the tentacle coming to life in my mouth and sucking on my uvula (not dramatic at all...) I would order this again in a heartbeat.


Now for the piece de resistance!  On the menu was headcheese, a rather misleading name for a terrine made from the head meat of a pig.  Last year I read a photojournal on the process of making headcheese.  The pictures were beautiful and intriguing and the article resulted in me adding headcheese to my food bucket list.  I, of course, now can't find the article again to share with you but this one is good too.

The meat was similar to pulled pork, but the terrine was more of a solid unit like when you use your fork to pull apart the dark meat on a turkey thigh.  It was then breaded and deep fried and truly delicious.  I savored every bite.


See you again soon, Tabree.  I expect you'll somehow be serving a delicious pork hoof next time I'm in!

18 comments:

  1. love the description, I feel like I am eating the food! but Alton Brown, really? your husband is much cuter.

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    1. I've loved Alton for longer than I've loved Doug. ;)

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  2. Nick just had headcheese in Germany. His description was "its like a log of canned cranberries, but tastes like meat." I think I prefer your description a little more.

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    1. I want to start using descriptive language like that. ;)

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  3. Airwecka - I went last Friday. Ate at the bar. The open-faced BLT with tempura soft shell crabs with fries and dipping sauce was amazing. I posted pics on my Timeline and shared on Buffalo/Niagara Foodies. David (supplier of oven-roasted cranberry sauce)

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