Si, Si, Cecelia's
Cecelia‚Äôs Ristorante & Martini Bar is prepared to guide their guests through the tastes of fall with their brand new fall menu. Although it is getting a bit too cold for the patio, the hardy food inside will warm things right up.
I started out with the Harvest Salad ($8) and the ‚ÄúLumpy‚ÄĚ Crab Cakes ($9). The Harvest Salad was served with a rosemary citrus vinaigrette, and topped with apricots, beets, pine nuts, walnuts, dried cranberries, and other assorted dried fruits. The slight bitterness of the baby spinach counterbalanced the sweetness of the dried fruits and the zest in the vinaigrette, resulting in a great, flavorful salad. The pair of ‚ÄúLumpy‚ÄĚ Crab Cakes was pan seared and served with a spicy chipotle aioli. The crab cakes had great texture and color, but the spicy chipotle sauce made the dish. If your taste buds are sensitive to spicy food, go easy on the spicy chipotle aioli because it definitely packs some heat.
My guest and I took the opportunity to sample a couple of cocktails. The martini list was full of fun surprises, along with the must-haves and the classics. The Chocolate Espresso Martini came highly recommended. I‚Äôm not one to mix my liquor with my coffee products, but it was pretty impressive. Although, I admit it would have been better had I saved it to pair with my dessert. The Lemon Drop Martini was a great drink, but I must say that my favorite one was the Pomegranate Martini, made with Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka and Triple Sec, and served in a sugar-rimmed glass ($8).
The entr√©e of Braised Lamb Shank ($20) is a must! Lamb always has the effect of warming a person up (or as my mom likes to put it ‚Äėit warms the blood‚Äô), and after cooking for 9 ¬Ĺ hours, it surely does. The dish comes out steaming and it definitely makes a statement with its presentation. The color of the dish is wonderful. The lamb, the potatoes, the slow cooked bits of carrots, the mushrooms and the herb garnish bring the hues and the taste of fall to the dinner table.
Even though a steak knife was brought, it left clean; the meat simply fell off the bone, juicy and flavorful. A simple dish with a complex taste, the flavor of the lamb was exquisite. The lamb is paired with whipped Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a side of Wild Mushroom Bolognese, which add to the fall feel of the dish. The mushrooms also soak up all the juices from the slow-cooked lamb and are simply wonderful. This dish is full of heart and it does not feel rushed at all. It comes out perfect, as if the chefs had been preparing it all day, just for you.
The desserts here are amazing, so make sure you save room for them. I highly recommend the Cassata Cake and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse. Linda Pierri, mother-in-law of owner Dave Barbara, makes all the baked desserts for Cecelia‚Äôs. The Cassata was rich and wonderful without being overwhelming in sweetness; the cake layers were moist, and the cake had great texture and taste throughout. The peanut butter chocolate mousse was served like a slice of cake. Compared to the Cassata, it was a little bit sweeter. I recommend pairing this with a nice cup of coffee, but for a person with a sweet tooth, this is a fine way to end a great meal.
The fall menu at Cecelia‚Äôs is impressive, and its location on Elmwood Avenue makes it a convenient stop for some great food and great martinis. General Manager, Kelly Donaher, informed me that Cecelia‚Äôs also offers a very popular Sunday Brunch. The atmosphere was cozy and the service was great. Do not miss the Braised Lamb Shank; this entr√©e alone is worth the trip.
Cecelia‚Äôs Ristorante & Martini Bar
716 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222