Jamaican chef offers jerk chicken to Larkinville
Since last week, downtown lunchers have followed the beguiling perfume of chicken on its smoky ride to jerk glory to Larkin Square, where Bratts Hill has set up in the former Filling Station space at 719 Seneca St.
After three years of pop-ups, ticketed events, and limited-edition dining, Jamaican chef Darian Bryan has a restaurant, giving more people a chance to try his cooking. Expect oxtail dinners, jerk chicken alive with habanero-allspice tendencies, and escovitch fish, with a vinegary bell pepper topping.
Bratts Hill is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. “No Saturday, no Sunday, for now,” Bryan said, and no online ordering, yet.
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Specials will change by the week, Bryan said, with upscale dinner service slated to start mid-July.
Bratts Hill management will be a family affair. Jessica Bryan, his wife, will be general manager. Bryan’s sister Nemia Smalls, who moved from Virginia , will be running the Bratts Hill kitchen, he said. His mother is on her way from Jamaica, as well.
Bryan named his first restaurant after the neighborhood where he grew up, in Clarendon Parish, Middlesex County, Jamaica.
“I wouldn’t call it a neighborhood, because it was like five houses,” he said. “No running water, no electric, pretty much everything was outside. It was rough, you know?”
That’s why when he took his family back to Jamaica, he showed his children Bratts Hill.
“We had to walk up and down the hill every day to actually get water. We had to bathe in the river with crocodiles, and all that craziness. Man,” the newly minted restaurateur said, marveling how far he’s come. “It’s crazy.”
Next, Nellai Banana Leaf: Amid the plethora of Pakistani, Bangldeshi, and Indian restaurants in and around Buffalo, there’s nothing else like Nellai Banana Leaf. It’s a Chettinad cuisine specialist, offering dozens of dishes found nowhere else in Western New York. That includes the broadest array of southern Indian vegetarian dishes, from doxens of dosas to idly, uppatham, and stir-fried parotta, which comes out like Thanksgiving turkey stuffing made by a grandmother from Karaikudi. Read 2019 review
Then, Manito Taco Shop: Manito Gonzalez started his taquero stand slinging in a taco truck, parked at a Lockport intersection. Since 2020, his business has outgrown the truck, leading to a counter-service place restaurant with acres of tables and a serve-yourself salsa and fixings bar that offers customers a compelling kalaidoscope of fresh toppings for every dish, from cooling avacado sauce to habenero pickled onions to five levels of chile fire. Read more
OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
Tecla farewell: Opened in 2021, the restaurant at 5894 Ward Road, Sanborn, will close after service Saturday, owners announced. “”It is a little bittersweet for us, but we are not renewing our lease in Sanborn where Tecla Rustic Bistro & Bar is located,” they wrote. “We would like to thank everyone who helped us open and make Tecla what it is today.”
Pie countdown: Foibles Coffee & Pie owner Sadie Mathers will close her shop at 172 Rhode Island St. at the end of the month, she announced.
“I’ve had so many good times serving you coffee and pie. You’ve all taught me so much and supported me through this crazy thing that I’ve been doing,” she wrote. “This isn’t the end of the book, it’s the start of a new chapter! Come visit us before July to quench your thirst and fill your belly with fresh baked pie!”
MORE RESTAURANT INTEL
Food in Lackawanna: Tap your toes and feed your face at A Bite of Lackawanna on Sunday.
The free event along Ridge Road between South Park Avenue and Electric Avenue showcases 19 restaurants, live music, and a shuttle to designated parking. It begins at 4 p.m.
Personal favorites serving the masses will include Mulberry Italian Ristorante, with meatballs and more, and Winfield’s Pub, where the Daultons will have BBQ pork belly burnt ends, grilled cheese bites, and Guinness chocolate cake.
The lineup includes Al Sultan Restaurant & Bakery, Joker’s Bar, OLV LunchWAY Café, Steel City Pub, Bella Pizza, J’s White Elephant, Pat’s Submarines, Steve’s Pig & Ox Roast, Broadway Bobby’s, Sonny Red’s, Curly’s Grille, Nikki’s Family Diner, Socotra Café, The Villa Banquet Center, Ice House Pub, Nite Cappe, and Stack Burger.
Live music includes Willie May Blues Band at 5 p.m., and Strictly Hip at 8 p.m. There’ll also be artisan craft vendors, beer and wine, a kids fun zone, and a fireworks finale.
City sponsorship of the event includes shuttle service to event parking lots on Ridge Road, Caldwell Place and South Park Avenue.
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