Stephen Travels

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Savor, Niagara Falls, New York

Savor (Niagara Falls, New York)

I’m a big fan of culinary institutes, such as the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, so when I came across Savor, the aptly named fine-dining restaurant of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, I immediately knew I had found the perfect place for dinner.

The airy restaurant, nicely lit and with a hearth in the middle, features comfortable space between tables and an open kitchen where you can observe student chefs working side-by-side with professionals. Upon being seated, I was offered warm bread with both a delicious apple butter and a honey olive oil. The entire staff — from the sommelier to the waiter, a mix of students and service industry professionals — were genuinely interested in my dining experience and took great time to explain some of the menu items. The restaurant purchases its ingredients from nearby farmers in Niagara County, helping to support the local economy while showcasing some terrific local produce. Menus vary according to season, so you’ll have multiple times during the year to be impressed by the next generation of culinary experts.

Fork and KnifeTry This: Start with the panko fried eggplant Napoleon with charred tomato sauce, whipped ricotta and goat cheeses, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Short of my mother’s eggplant parmigiana, this was by far the best eggplant I’ve ever had, and it set the bar high for what was to follow. Fortunately, my elevated expectations were easily met with the spring onion gnocchi with house smoked bacon, shallots, Asiago cream, asparagus tips, and a fried egg. For dessert, the curious-sounding Mexican gelato sandwich — smoky chocolate gelato between two chocolate hazelnut sable cookies, with raspberry orange sauce — perfectly combines refreshing coolness with spicy warmth.