A long-dormant property in Wheatfield near the Niagara Falls International Airport has been reopened as an ambitious from-scratch restaurant.
Taylors’ Tap and Grill opened Friday at 2279 Niagara Falls Blvd., the site of Dad’s Restaurant, last open in 2004.
“I’ve been doing this 20 years, but this is a new thing,” said Jeff Taylor, former owner of Justin Tyme Café in Niagara Falls, one of the partners. “We have an executive chef, and he’s doing the whole menu from scratch.”
At Taylors’ Tap, that means baking bread and rolls, making stock and sauces, and eschewing frozen convenience ingredients that are the building blocks of many tavern menus. “There is no frozen food on our menu, other than the ice cream,” Taylor said.
It’s an 80-seat restaurant with a full bar and 40-seat patio, which is becoming a beer garden. Open daily from 11 a.m., serving lunch, dinner and a late-night dinner menu. The phone number is 216-6078.
Executive Chef Shea Miller most recently worked at Union Jack’s in Washington D.C., he said. But he started his career at Houston’s, part of the Hillstone restaurant group. “We’re trying to offer people value on a plate, with extremely high-quality food. The portions are large; there’s a lot of bang for the buck here,” Miller said.
There’s still a lot of premium ingredients on the menu. Burgers are a custom blend of chuck, brisket and short rib, Miller said.
Prices top out at $22 for the Angus hanger steak with Maytag blue cheese and whisk-bacon jam, and the Parmesan-crusted grouper and Key lime butter. The house poutine is hand-cut fries cooked in duck fat with cheese curds, Nueske bacon and duck confit in housemade demi-glace, for $8.50.
Is that too fancy for Wheatfield?
“I’ve told all the servers that if a guest is on the fence, tell them to order it,” said Miller. “If they don’t like it, I’ll come out and talk to them, and make them something that they want.”
Chef Mike Andrzejewski is planning to overhaul his Hotel @ the Lafayette restaurant in August, introducing a lower-priced menu of smaller plates and market-driven entrees served in what has been the lounge of Mike A’s at the Lafayette.
The restaurant will remain open for lunch and dinner throughout the process, he said. The restaurant’s current main dining room, a two-level space overlooking Clinton Street, will become an event space, with its own bar, he said.
The restaurant will also have a new name, which hasn’t been confirmed yet, he said.
Padded banquettes and new lighting fixtures will be part of sweeping changes turning the lounge room into a main dining room. It will have 50 to 60 seats, plus room to eat at the bar.
Under current Chef Chris Daigler and his assistant Brian Keindel, the menu will be “a little more accessible,” he said. “We want to encourage people to eat more different flavors rather than a lot more, period.”
Most dishes will be about $10-$20, with bolder flavors and culinary techniques aimed at encouraging people to assemble adventurous meals and share, he said. The lineup of larger entrees will change week to week depending on the marketplace, he said.
The Art Deco bar will remain, and beverage director Tony Rials’ craft cocktail creations will still be key to the restaurant’s character, Andrzejewski said. “What Tony’s doing deserves to be featured just as much as the food.”
The changes should take effect in the beginning of August. “We hope to have a soft opening the first week of August, and a grand relaunch around Aug. 10,” he said.
Moving: After remaining empty for years after Mode closed, the corner of Elmwood Avenue and West Utica St. is getting a new restaurant.
New to the site, at least. Saigon Café, the Vietnamese restaurant near Forest Avenue that will be replaced by Louie’s Texas Red Hots, plans to open at 520 Elmwood Ave.
Saigon Café should close by the end of July and reopen at the new location in September, said manager Bryan Duong.
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