Shango, Sooner Than Expected!

As I mentioned in my last entry, I’ve been meaning to try Shango on Main St. for quite some time. On a last minute decision, we actually went right at 5 P.M. last Wednesday. Having heard only good things about the restaurant, we hoped to have an experience that would live up to our high expectations.

                      

Shango is smartly decorated – as classy as a restaurant of its caliber should be, but still with enough personal touches to remind the diner of Shango’s cajun roots. On the back of each menu was a list of local providers that Shango utilizes in its food, from noodles, to meat, to pop. Service was also impressive: attentive and spot-on throughout the night. Water glasses were kept filled but not at a ridiculous pace and extra bread and oil was brought out as needed.

About the bread: Shango presents a basket containing slices of white bread, cornbread, and whole-wheat bread alongside a dish of spiced oil. The white and wheat breads were very good – especially the wheat bread which was extremely fresh and flavorful. The cornbread, however, was astounding: easily the best cornbread any of us had had at a restaurant or at home.

For an appetizer, we tasted the Caesar Salad and the Pork Belly. The Caesar was fine: properly dressed greens in a tasty vinaigrette, served with shaved parmesan and a delectable parmesan crostini (actually, two: someone snatched one before the picture was taken!). However, the Pork Belly – three ‘slabs’ served over an apple and pepper salad, served with five-pepper jelly – was astounding. The pork belly (the part of a pig that bacon is made from) melted in our mouths without being overly greasy; any grease that did exist wonderfully coated the underlying apple salad. Careful thought and excellent preparation exalted that simple appetizer into something truly great.

Three of us ordered po-boys (sandwiches on crusty French bread) for our entrée: two steak, one catfish. The steak po-boys were perfect… on a level beyond any ordinary steak sandwich. Served with pesto aioli, provolone, asiago, peppers, and onions, they were described as “the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had” – mostly due to the incredible tenderness of the steak. Meanwhile, I ordered the blackened (spicy!) catfish po-boy, topped with mesclun greens, cajun remoulade, and tomato. Likening comments to the steak po-boy, it was easily the best fish sandwich I’d ever had. So far, Shango’s po-boys had been proven excellent, and, served with crisp coleslaw and either truffle fries or sweet potato fries, made us instantly want to return for more. (At a later date, of course! For only $12-14, we were completely satisfied by half of the po-boy and came home with lunch for the next day. Two could easily split one.)

One of us also ordered the black pepper linguini (clearly from Gondola) with lobster tail, sea scallops, and cognac cream sauce; looking at the ingredients now, it seems like the chef was trying to invoke a seafood-based steak au poivre. The dish was described as being perfect in all ways: flavor, texture, and portion (especially the generous lobster meat). As our only dish off of the actual entrée menu, it kept to the high standards of the rest of the meal.

Even though we were nearing “stuffed” by this point, we had to try the desserts after having such an excellent meal up to that point. We tried the molten chocolate cupcake (served with a raspberry sauce) and the pecan pie (served with coconut-rum ice cream and caramel sauce). (Note: the cupcake takes about 15 minutes to come out of the kitchen, obviously being made to-order. We were warned in advance just in case.) Both desserts were familiar and indulgent while being just classy enough – helped by the raspberry sauce and coconut-rum ice cream – to remain in track with the rest of the dinner. Because we (and many others) have seen (and tasted) so many molten-chocolate desserts on previous menus at so many restaurants, the chocolate cupcake didn’t stand out as much as it should have. It was still delicious, though. The pie, on the other hand, was perfect by all standards: the crust was buttery, flaky, and tender; the filling, not cloying from too much corn syrup; and the ice cream, bright enough in flavor to ‘pick up’ the entire dish. The caramel sauce also seemed to have a bit of bourbon in it, playing right in with the caramel, pecan, and rum flavors in the dish. A perfect end to a perfect dinner.

 

Shango Bistro and Wine Bar

3260 Main St
Buffalo, NY
14214

Shango on Urbanspoon

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