Earlier this month, I was heading to Buffalo, New York with just enough free time for a meal. Per usual, I did extensive research and found the number-one-rated restaurant in Buffalo, Martin Cooks, on TripAdvisor. I was intrigued by reviews touting “Foodie Heaven,” “Perfection Every Time,” and “Most unique dining experience in Buffalo.” To see that the lunch was actually affordable with all these great reviews solidified my decision.
My dining companion and I arrived around 12:30 for lunch and as soon as we walked in, we looked at each other and said “yep, this is going to be awesome.” The building looks industrial and Brooklyn-y and is actually home to a few other restaurants as well, with apartments on the floors above. I found out later that day that one of my Twitter buddies lives in the building. What I would do to live in this building now that I’ve experienced Martin Cooks…
The brick walls, the exposed pipes, and the open kitchen make for a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. We decided to sit on the stools at the bar so that we could watch the chefs at work. I asked the gentleman who brought us our menus, waters, and meals if he was Martin, he quickly said, “No, Martin cooks!” and gestured toward the open kitchen to Martin. “You want to talk to him? Go ahead and say hi.” We walked a few steps into the kitchen and exchanged a few words but Martin was quite busy seasoning a beautiful porchetta so we went back to our stools quickly and gushed about how great this place was, even before we had a chance to try anything on the menu.
The menu had a handful of delicious-sounding items as “Apple, Bacon, Cheddar, and Peanut Butter Sandwich,” “Acorn Squash, Quinoa, Swiss Chard, Red Onion, Bacon,” and “Meatloaf Patty Melt with Smoked Onions, Swiss & Cheddar Cheese.” We wanted to make the most of our experience, so we decided to get three meals and share. When we ordered, I started to say, “Can we please share…” and the gentleman serving us said “You don’t want to share” in a teasing manner. I quickly continued, “but what if we get three meals??” and he smiled and said he would allow it.
“Our Signature Green Pancakes with Raita & Harissa” came out first, separated kindly onto two plates. What made them green was spinach, jalapeño, green onions, and cilantro. They came with a yummy white yogurt sauce (the Raita) and a chile pepper paste (the Harissa) as well as some more greens on top. The pancakes were phenomenal. We each had to force ourselves to stop eating 3/4ths of the way through to save room for our other two lunch items but I wanted badly to go on. The limitations of my stomach are more of a detriment to my life than anyone realizes.
Our next two dishes came out at the same time. The “Braised Short Ribs with Rice & Pickled Vegetables” were so tender and perfectly seasoned, but as I’ve had short ribs a number of times, I did not find them especially different than others I’ve encountered.
The “Porchetta on Ciabatta & Fried Egg” was just to die for. There was also a hint of spicy mustard on this open-faced sandwich. This was now four major food items together that I love but had never had even two of at the same time. This dish was just gorgeous and I felt bad cutting it (poorly) in half to break the yolk and make a mess of it. I made sure that even after I couldn’t fit anything else in my belly, I took one last bite of this one.
I am 100% returning if I find myself in Buffalo again, especially given that the menu looks like it changes frequently. A meal like this stays with you, and not just for the afternoon afterward when you feel like you’ll never be able to eat another thing for the rest of your life.