At Dapper Goose, Black Rock Spot Draws Loyal Herd | Restaurants
For six years, the Dapper Goose has been a neighborhood spot that is the pride of Black Rock.
The cozy restaurant across from Amherst Street and Casey’s Black Rock is a special event space, a zone of respite, release and reward. Part of what makes the Dapper Goose an odd bird among high-end dining establishments is its stability.
Keith Raimondi and his wife, Peggy Wong, moved from Philadelphia to Buffalo in 2015 to open a restaurant, with chef Jesse Ross and bar manager Tim Leary following them from the City of Brotherly Love to Queen City.
Together they gave the Dapper Goose an admirable consistency record. The Broken Garden Tools cocktail ($12, made with gin, celery, parsley, lemon, Moroccan spices) first won my heart at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The healthiest tasting cocktail I’ve ever had is the same vibrant emerald elixir today, because it’s still Leary’s hands at work.
When we last met in late spring, half the menu consisted of familiar dishes from day one. All have been refined and reformatted, however, allowing Ross to maintain a thriving business in the blackened green bean plates ($14). Now the dish hides the charred onion aioli at the bottom of a wide bowl covered with beans aggressively seasoned with black pepper and other spices, then blackened in a searing pan, adorned with crispy toasted nuggets.
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For all its finesse, the place is wary of the premium ingredients that make their dishes shine. Allow me to honk.
It begins with the daily bread. All breads, rolls and pastries are homemade. Most include a useful sourdough starter ration, the one Ross brought from Philadelphia, and which has continued ever since.
A sourdough ball proved the base of Ricotta Toast ($13), another original dish that has stuck, in various forms. Ours was a sweet-savory-grilled snack of roasted yellow beets dressed in orange miso and black sesame seeds, tufted with a chiffonade of fresh mint.
Another sourdough slice carried the Beef Tartare Toast ($17). The diced Plato Dale beef over horseradish aioli, topped with shredded corned beef heart, pickled onion and salted egg yolk, was a soulful symphony in animals. Cut into four, it was just enough beef.
Most of the beef is from Plato Dale, the birds of Erba Verde’s Korean Fried Chicken. Part of the reason Dapper Goose dishes hit harder is because they’re made of better stuff.
Ross’ veggie classics are as popular as ever. The charred broccoli ($14) over romesco, roasted red pepper sauce gets bursts of sweetness from the smoky grapes, balanced with bitter endive and toasted almonds.
Fried cauliflower ($13) with a hidden Green Goddess dressing underneath, transforming its face from plain to festive into a hearty bite. Why didn’t that famous salad ice cream get a wider comeback, but as long as Ross keeps whipping up parsley, mint, dill, basil and capers in a green gym and aromatic, I’ll sweep right and left, and no matter what, the last stain has to be removed.
The mushroom arancini ($15) with hummus proved lighter than the usual fried risotto balls, with pickled beech mushrooms providing a woodsy acid to lighten the richness of the fried rice. Fried Brussels sprouts ($14) in a cashew Caesar dressing are tossed with diced apples and fish sauce croutons made with more sourdough ball.
Grilled octopus bites ($18) are offered with grilled broccolini, on a house XO sauce, a nice pas de deux of sea and land. It’s a thick, brick-red sauce made with chilies, ginger, cured ham and dried scallops, a taste bomb that tingles the umami sensors of your tongue.
Appetizers typically include house-made pasta, like tagliatelle ($29) in crispy pork fat breadcrumbs, as well as cured pork funk of pancetta, over Jerusalem artichoke sobise, a type of sour cream. onion. It was a welcome indulgence, shared among friends.
Smoked Duck Leg ($28) on a polenta cake with a mole delighted with lush dark meat backed by even darker chili spice notes, with a shiver of pickled onions. A cheeseburger ($19) made with Plato Dale beef, strong cheese, dill pickle mayonnaise and fries is always a party burger.
The Korean Fried Chicken ($32) is a Dapper Goose signature dish, half a chicken fried and glazed in a bright, spicy, smoky, and sweet sauce with a backbone of gochujang, Korean fermented chili paste. Served over kimchi fried rice, with a handful of cucumber pickles, this is one of Buffalo’s most fearsome birds.
If you want a sweet exclamation mark at the end of your meal, may I suggest the olive oil cake ($8) with lemon curd and whipped cream? Its lush cakey qualities make it the perfect foil for sunny citrus pudding and luxurious, airy dairy.
With its targeted menu of cocktails, wines, and food, the Dapper Goose isn’t trying to please everyone. It doesn’t have to be, however, since he has found his faithful flock.
491 Amherst Street, (551-0716, thedappergoose.com)
Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; closed Sunday to Tuesday.
Price: small plates, $13 to $20; large plates, $19-$32.
Vibe: Quiet Satisfaction
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Gluten-free options: many options
Outdoor dining: rear terrace
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