Eternally searching. Eternally hungry. Maybe even eternally unsatisfied. When it comes to restaurants, some people seek the Impossible Dream. But is that dream really so impossible? Maybe just difficult. See below:
"Hi Janice: We enjoyed Friday Fish Nights for years at a Snyder restaurant (now closed). It offered breaded fish baked rather than fried on Friday nights. Now I was wondering if you know of any other restaurants that also offer baked fish on their menus."
-- Larry C.
Not impossible at all, Larry. Almost all local restaurants offer baked fish any day of the week. Case in point: Lebro's, 330 Campbell Blvd., Getzville. The fish is the same as the one used in the fry, skinless and boneless haddock. It is breaded with Italian crumbs and either baked or broiled.
Then, of course, there is Hoak's, just a-hanging over the lake at 4100 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg, where there is a huge choice of fish prepared anyway you might want it. You should know, though, that in many places it costs a little more -- usually about a dollar -- to order baked or broiled fish. We're told that's because it takes longer to prepare baked or broiled fish, and on a busy Friday night, time is money.
"Hi Janice, I'm writing to see if you have knowledge of where I can find this very special version of chicken and biscuits that has been on my mind for decades.
"It all started when I worked at the Stroudmoor Inn near Stroudsburg, Pa., one summer. The chef and owner was Rudy Butsch and the food there was delicious. He had this one recipe where gravy was poured over the biscuits. What made it outstanding was that parsley was used to give it a distinctive flavor.
"That was over 50 years ago. Not long after that I had occasion to dine at a Schrafft's restaurant where I ordered chicken and biscuits. To my taste it was identical to the dish Rudy had served. (I recently bought this book that contains Schrafft's recipes, but the chicken and biscuits was not in it.)
"But since that time I've never come across chicken and biscuits that has come close to measuring up. If you have knowledge of a restaurant that serves chicken and biscuits with this distinctive parsley flavor, or a recipe for this version, I would appreciate it if you would share that information."
-- Regards, Bill, Grand Island
Chicken and biscuits is one of those wonderful old-timey American foods and I'm sure Schrafft's did a great job with it because Americana was its forte. (The coffee and pastries weren't bad, either.)
You can get C&B in Western New York, but parsley could be a problem. At the Asa Ransom House, 10529 Main St., Clarence, they use an old family recipe that owner Bob Lenz says is made with sour cream. He'll sprinkle with parsley if you like.
Will you settle for chicken and waffles? Get it at Seabar on Ellicott Street, where it is one of the most popular entrees. The dish does come with maple syrup, which was more typical of the South and is still served in Harlem today. (The cream sauce is supposedly more common in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.)
"Janice: Where oh where can I find a complimentary, old-fashioned relish tray with olives, celery and peppers? Those trays used to come out at all restaurants before your dinner. Now I never see one."
-- Susan C., East Aurora
Eckl's still brings out a beauty (4936 Ellicott Road, Orchard Park). Other than that I'm stuck. Sinatra's, 938 Kenmore Ave., brings out fabulous caponata.
Janice Okun, former food editor for The News, has been out and about in the regional restaurant scene for 40 years. Send your dining questions and comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.