Some people spend their lives seeking riches; some look for eternal youth. But there are many whose desires are much more modest. A certain dish or food exerts a mysterious pull; they spend time, effort and sweat in search of it.
Those are the people we focus on today:
"Hello Ms. Okun,
"I don't know if you can help me, but I am looking for the best Key Lime Pie in Western New York. It is my favorite dessert and after experiencing it in Key West, it is hard to find one that's close to it. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for your time!"
-- Gregg G.
The news isn't great, Gregg. You will probably never find Key Lime Pie in Western New York that is as memorable as the ones you tasted in the Keys.
The pie, as you probably know, is made from a certain species of yellow citrus fruit that grows in the South. When you eat it there, it is fresh-picked.
The juice is shipped north, of course, but often it is not the same.
Also, a lot of what we love in our food is flavored by the memories that are associated with it. That is part of the reason why people want food just like Mom made, or, in this case, pie that tastes like the Keys.
But, failing the soft breezes and the swaying palms, try a slice at My Tomato Pie, 3085 Sheridan Drive, where the pie, said to be homemade, is a specialty. At Zebb's Deluxe Grill and Bar, 2875 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst, and 3349 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park, the recipe is said to be directly from the Keys.
You might consider trying some riffs on the flavor. At Chow Chocolat, 731 Main St., and/or 715 Elmwood Ave., there sometimes can be found a Key Lime Bonbon, though the proprietor points out it is a warm weather flavor, so call ahead (843-4388).
And finally, many bars serve Key Lime martinis.
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"I am a longtime reader and fan. My brother-in-law loves salmon. His birthday is this week and we are planning to take him and his wife out for dinner. He took me to "The Rue" (Rue Franklin, 341 Franklin St.), which is my favorite. Do you have a suggestion as to where we could take him for salmon that has the same ambience as the Rue?"
-- Jack W.
It is hard NOT to find salmon on a menu, Jack. Salmon is as ubiquitous as zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. It is on most menus because, like tilapia, it is one fish most people like. And then, much salmon (not all -- ask) is farmed, so the supply is constant and can be purchased advantageously.
But if you are talking ambience, Buffalo Chophouse is glamorous, exciting and expensive, and they'll do you a grilled filet with baby vegetables and cream dill sauce.
At the Bonefish Grill, the ambience is more chainlike and hectic, but you can get simple grilled Norwegian Salmon or Salmon Rheas with lime tomato garlic sauce, both delicious.
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"Sorry to bother you, but do you know of any restaurants in Western New York that serve roast lamb on their menu?"
That's a tough one, Anonymous. Lamb burgers you can find (Soho Burger Bar, 64 W. Chippewa St.); Lamb Souvlaki is in any Greek restaurant; Lamb Chops (or the rack) are everywhere.
But roast lamb, as in leg of lamb, on a regular basis? Try the Elmwood Lounge, 522 Elmwood Ave. -- but ask them to leave the mint jelly on the side.
Have a comment, question or complaint about area dining? Share your opinions with longtime News restaurant reviewer Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll respond in this column.