Swan Street Diner

Review by: Michael Stern

The Past Comes Alive

If you eat Swan Street Diner food with your eyes closed, you might think you are in the dining room of a fine hotel. Food quality and culinary finesse rate that high. If you open your eyes and look around, you could easily imagine that you’ve been in a time machine. The machine took you to 1937, when this exquisite Sterling Dining Car (# 397) was brand new. In fact, you are sitting in the midst of some admirable urban renewal — Buffalo’s revitalizing warehouse district known as Larkinville. This restaurant preserves the best of the past while waving the flag of modern dining values.

Really Local, Really Fresh

Every restaurant now wants to use the word local to describe its provender. Here, it means something. Maple syrup for pancakes comes from western New York. Cake-like Placek bread comes from nearby Mazurek’s Bakery. (That reflects the city’s Polish heritage.) Even jam boasts local berries.

Contemporary menu writers love to bandy about the word fresh. At the Swan Street Diner, it means that the mini-donuts you order will still be too hot to hold. They virtually melt in your mouth. To make great chunky morning hash, they use corned beef made on premises. Yes, you are tasting garden-fresh herbs in your omelet. That milk shake tastes especially good because its chocolate syrup does not come from a can. They concoct it right here in the kitchen.

Perfect Surroundings

Savor all this superb food in the museum-like perfection of a 1937 diner restored to its newly-minted glory. Sterling Diner specs were used to build the booths. The fabulous double-decker glass counter looks the way it did 80 years ago. They’ve polished the original enamel paneling, bar stools, and wood trim to look like new.

I’m skeptical about diners that boast of being modern. All too often, they go trendy and pretentious. They eclipse honest diner-food values with chef’s whimsy and trend-of-the-moment cooking. Not here. The Swan Street Diner is all about celebrating the best of the past using the best of modern culinary values.

What To Eat

Mini Donuts

Corned Beef Hash

Triple Berry Jam

Placek French Toast


Swan Street Diner Recipes


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