The smells don't match the scenery at Market Café. With a modest exterior and a formica-tinged, art-deco theme on the inside, the venue seems like a traditional diner. Yet the aromas sneaking from the kitchen bely a more complex story—one of daily-made flatbread dough, pork burgers stuffed with cilantro, and sautéed tiger shrimp. These are but a few of the protagonists on a continental menu of made-from-scratch plates. The café's stress on in-house prep and signature touches—such as the loin-of-pork sandwich's housemade butter pickles—defies its unassuming design, offering what New York magazine calls "culinary salvation" from the area's standard eateries.
In addition to prioritizing housemade fare, Market Café caters to dietary restrictions. Its gluten-free menus draw from many mainstay listings for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and diners can also sub gluten-free noodles and buns into regular pasta or burger dishes. Much of the café's press homes in on its generous desserts—specifically the chocolate cake, a three-layered slice big enough to split between several people or act as a doorstop until someone gets hungry. The decadent confection pairs well with offerings from the fully stocked bar. Fresh blueberry purée and lime juice mix with gin in the blueberry gimlet, and the Dirty Goose—Grey Goose vodka, vermouth, and prosciutto-stuffed olives—preserves an avian motif that began with dinner's grilled quail served in a red-wine reduction.
Beyond Madiba Restaurant's metal-plated storefront, South African music dances through the air, and hanging masks beam down on an eclectic assortment of chairs and tables. Designed by South African native Mark Henegan and his wife Jenny, the dining room evokes the lively, communal ambiance of a South African shebeen—an informal dining hall where locals gather to eat, drink, and socialize. A chandelier of vintage coke bottles illuminates the mismatched assortment of tabletops, plates, mason jars of water, and bottles of house wine.
In the kitchen, Henegan and his kitchen staff whip up authentic platters assembled with imported and local ingredients that garnered praise from Time Out New York and Gourmet magazine. As slow-cooked oxtail stew simmers in a cast-iron pot, cooks baste meats in the apricot, red wine, tomato, and raisin medley that makes up their signature sauce. Chefs whip up a range of seafood entrees and curries, using fish imported directly from South Africa after granting sets of wishes to three local fishermen.
The restaurant hosts a variety of live events throughout the week, from local South African bands to DJ dance parties. Madiba divvies up a percentage of its profits to benefit several community-outreach programs, aiding people locally and internationally with funds for education, urban farming and renewal, and equal rights.
When he was only 7 years old, Tonnie's Minis founder Tonnie Rozier started cooking confections alongside his grandmother. As he grew older, he realized baking was more than a childhood pastime, and went on to found an at-home baking business. By 2005, he had so many orders that he quit his job to field ever-growing requests for his sweets. Soon, Tonnie found himself filling orders for all corners of the Big Apple, ranging from everyday Brooklynites to Jay-Z and P. Diddy. Today, he leads his crew of confectioners in hand-crafting a menu of notable cupcakes that have competed on Food Network's Cupcake Wars and nourished the studio audience of The Wendy Williams Show in the moments after a massive food fight.
The shop’s rotating list of flavors includes signature carrot cupcakes made with hand-peeled organic carrots by Tonnie himself and moist red velvet dainties crowned with cream-cheese icing. As the seasons change, the lineup shifts to incorporate flavors that represent the time of year, such as Halloween cupcakes, colorful dainties for spring, and morsels with the date of Secretary's Day written in their frosting.
Delish! Cooking School, whose classes were voted as some of the Best of WNY by Buffalo Spree, is known for its quality instruction and taste. Within a comfortable urban space, customers can pick up sweet selections such as fresh fudge, scones, bar cookies, and hand-dipped chocolate. Fresh-brewed espresso drinks accompanied by baked goods or housemade ice-cream sandwiches tempt tongues, while a range of cooking tools, sauces, and spices line shelves for at-home chefs to use in their own kitchens.
Experienced chefs lead cooking classes geared toward the home cook looking to hone skills without memorizing transcripts of the Food Network’s full broadcast. Students sip wine during classes such as The Exciting Foods of Thailand, Casual Italian Supper Party, or The New Vegetarian Cuisine.
The Ravioli Shop's founder, Bill Kenney, feels so much pride in his store’s fresh-made products that if he notices a customer holding an odd pairing of ravioli and sauce, he’ll tactfully and enthusiastically suggest a swap. The rest of the team demonstrates the same dedication to furnishing excellent meals, guiding patrons through a dozen ravioli varieties and five regular sauces with personal advice, a handy online chart, and the ability to decipher the true desires of growling stomachs.
Staffers might recommend pairing their seasonal pumpkin ravioli with a sage and brown-butter sauce or perhaps their decadent lobster ravioli with vodka-cream sauce made with slow-pasteurized cream from a local dairy. In addition to pasta, the staff also bakes fresh bread daily, crafting semolina loaves, baguettes, and six varieties of focaccia early each morning. All ravioli, sauces, and breads are made from scratch, with 100% durum flour and fresh eggs infusing each sheet of pasta and roasted veggies and fresh-ground cheeses providing soft pockets of filling.
Rarely do two burgers at Burke's Restaurant and Bar ever look the same. Not only do diners get to choose from four buns—including pretzel buns and english muffins—but they can also crown their burgers with more than 16 toppings, such as chipotle mayo and Irish bacon. Burgers, however, are just one of many options available at Burke's, whose remaining menu sports everything from chicken parm sliders to Irish chicken curry. Bartenders complement hearty feasts with myriad libations, from 19 draft beers to liquor-spiked milk shakes, which visitors can sip while watching games on 14 flat-screen TVs and two widescreen projectors.