Here in Buffalo, Autumn has begun to leave its mark upon our city. A cold breeze frequently strikes us from across Lake Erie. The leaves have started falling, stained the color of bechemel sauce. When I think of fall, I think of pumpkins in October and roast turkey and squash at Thanksgiving. It’s honestly my favorite time of year, and culinary-wise, it presents an amazing reticule of dishes. As it grows colder, we appreciate the warmth and fulfillment that comes from the rich combinations of comfort food and slow cooking. Especially here in Buffalo, where our community embraces its blue-collar heritage with a slightly upscale twist to rustic cuisine.

Normally we’re known for our famous chicken wings, but Buffalo is undergoing a micro-renaissance in our restaurant community. The enjoyment of eating upscale food at lower prices is something that really comes out this time of year. Just the other day, I enjoyed lamb lollipops in a brown sugar caramel sauce with quartered yellow potatoes and grilled onions at The Wine Thief. It was elegantly plated and deliciously simple. Paired with a bottle of Merlot, it only ran me a shade under twenty five dollars. Over at my restaurant, Encore, we offer a variety of seasonal specials that have a home cooked feel. The Octoberfest braised short ribs with cumin glazed carrots and eastern spices offer a savory blend of sweet, slow cooked meat and crunch of carrots. The cream of pumpkin-butternut squash soup is hearty, sweet, and intriguing, and when paired with a peppercorn caramel glazed fillet mignon with fresh haricot verte on a basil and sweet potato puree, still won’t push a budget.

Just down the road on Allen, Fiddleheads Cafe presents a unique twist to venison, with its raspberry-truffle glaze on a bed of fresh watercress and mushroom risotto. If that’s too upscale for you then just a short cab ride later will bring you to Kenmore, where the famous Marco’s Italian Deli resides. Marco’s is known for using high quality Boar’s Head meats and offering one of the largest sanguich (yes, thats sanguich, not sandwich.) selections I’ve ever seen with over 100 different succulent choices. My personal favorite is the Stugots, with its thinly sliced roast beef, cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle aioli, and grilled sweet peppers. Sound expensive but can be easily stuffed down anyones gullet for just under ten dollars.

Buffalo has suffered for a long time economically, but that hasn’t stopped any of us locals from really getting the most out of the seasonal fare. Its our love of food and drink that motivates us, and its the variety of delectable choices that distinguishes us. Soon Buffalo will come into its own, with good food leading the way.