It only comes around twice a year, but for those two weeks, I'm in food heaven!!! I'm talking about WNY Restaurant Week, which started March 26th and goes until April 1st. Local restaurants offer a three course meal for $20.12 and give people the chance to explore over 100 local restaurants.
It's always hard deciding which restaurants to visit since I have a ton of places I love to frequent, but I always end up trying places I've never been to before. Prime 490 was one we tried to get into last year for Restaurant Week but the reservation slots didn't match up with our free time, so we missed out. I called a good two weeks in advance to make sure we'd get the time slot we wanted and we went Wednesday (3/28) evening. Our party of four was promptly seated in a nice U shaped booth and our waiter quickly came over to say hi and let us get situated.
Before I go on, I just want to give a shout out to local waiters, waitresses, hosts, bartenders, managers and owners. If I worked in a restaurant, I'd absolutely HATE restaurant week, and you could tell that some of the waiters (which we noticed at Prime 490, it was all waiters), were a little stressed. If you go out during Restaurant Week, cut these people some slack! They are offering you a ridiculously cheap meal, with more people than they are used to. Make sure you tip them well too!!
The atmosphere at Prime 490 is wonderful. It has upscale decor, without feeling snooty or over the top. The bold and colorful abstract artwork on the walls really give it a warm feel, and I think by the end of the meal I was calling it, "Upscale Buffalo". That's the thing about Buffalo, the city rocks, but we don't go over the top to show ourselves off, or have a "we're better than you" attitude. I felt extremely comfortable and like I fit in at Prime 490. I really loved the artwork and we all were commenting on it throughout the night. The hand blown glass lighting fixtures (also in bold colors) were absolutely gorgeous and a nice touch above our booth. There is ample seating in the restaurant and a good mix of tables, smaller booths and the bigger U shaped booths.
As part of Prime 490's menu for Restaurant Week, you were given a glass of wine to start your meal, followed by a salad and an entree. For the wine, we were offered either a glass of Chardonnay or a glass of Cabernet. Our party was really impressed with the wine, and you could tell they really spent time picking out the right wine to start off the meal. I had the Chardonnay, and while I'm typically not a huge fan of it, I really enjoyed this glass.
They had about 8 options for different entrees that included steak, pork, fish, pasta and shrimp. It really had something for everyone. Our table ordered the 12 oz. strip steak (served with potatoes and asparagus), the Char Siu Pork Tenderloin (Asian barbeque grilled pork tenderloin served with rice and asparagus), the Penne Ala Leonard (shrimp with plum tomatoes, red onion, sweet basil, garlic, asiago cheese, white wine & virgin olive oil), and I had the Shrimp Scampi Risotto. We also started the meal off with an appetizer of fried calamari, and while I'm not a huge fan of it, the people in our party who are, said it was outstanding.
I can honestly say that all of us absolutely loved our meals, and we tried each others and all agreed the food was great. My shrimp scampi risotto was delicious, and I really enjoyed the addition of some vegetables (onion and peppers) to the risotto. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the seasoning of the whole dish was right on. The pork tenderloin with the Asian barbeque was absolutely delicious, and the portion size was huge! We all had some at our table and there was enough leftover to take home for another meal! The strip steak was cooked exactly like my boyfriend wanted it, and the potatoes and asparagus were seasoned well. The pasta dish was rich, but lighter than we all thought and absolutely delicious.
Above and beyond trying awesome local Buffalo food, I love Restaurant Week because it brings friends and family together. Life is crazy busy, everyone has conflicting schedules, but Restaurant Week is a great excuse to get together! It's a wonderful showcase of restaurants for local owners and it really made me so excited to see a completely packed house with a waiting list on a Wednesday evening.
Prime 490 is located in the City on Rhode Island Street, plopped down in a residential area near another restaurant, Left Bank. There is a parking lot across the street with ample parking and they are open Tuesday - Saturday from 5pm until 1am or 2am (2am on Friday/Saturday). To make reservations you can call (716) 882-3328.
If you are reading this and it is still Restaurant Week (March 26 - April 1), I encourage you to get out for dinner one night and try something new and local! It's a deal you cannot beat! Happy eating!
For more reviews on Prime 490, check out: