Classic Buffalo Spotlight: Oliver’s Restaurant

By Katie McKenna

Published on

Fine dining is often reserved for special occasions and Buffalo’s food scene delivers plenty of indulgent options if you’re in the mood to celebrate. One North Buffalo restaurant, however, stands out by redefining ‘luxury,’ being a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant, and treating guests to an unforgettable culinary experience.

The team at Oliver’s Restaurant masterfully creates an approachable, fine dining atmosphere. The tone was set in 1936 by Frank Oliver when he opened his namesake restaurant in the heart of North Buffalo featuring exceptional hospitality and a menu that crosses classic with surprising. And for more than 80 years, every dinner service brings another opportunity to perfect that tradition.

During a recent Saturday evening my husband and I shared the Oliver’s experience. We selected from Chef Ross Warhol’s impressive menu a few appetizers, including the spinach loaf (a menu-staple) and scallop crudo. For our entrees, we enjoyed filet mignon with truffle butter, mashed potatoes and carrots and a halibut dish, prepared with caramelized cabbage puree, roasted beets, baby bok choy and oyster mushrooms with a sherry sauce. Dessert at Oliver’s is a must, so we topped off our meal with banana walnut French toast, with raisin puree, maple, and Crème fraiche ice cream, decorated with egg nog pearls.

In addition to a remarkable meal, small moments stand out at Oliver’s – like watching a server subtly tug at a tablecloth until it lays perfectly, or learning that “booth number five” was the spot Robert Redford and Kim Bassinger frequented during the taping of The Natural in the summer of ‘83.  It’s not uncommon for guests to interact with nearly every member of the staff in a given evening, including the general manager, Mike and owner, Dave Schutte. Their ultimate goal, they will say, is the same as Frank Oliver’s vision – for guests to forget what’s happening outside of the restaurant’s walls and pause for a while to celebrate life.

Repeat visits make up more than half of the restaurant’s business and to attract new patrons and a younger crowd, Dave makes it a point to keep the restaurant and its offerings current. Interesting draft beer selections and a bar menu that includes a hand-crafted burger, steak sandwich and pizza makes Oliver’s an appealing choice for those looking for a more relaxed ambiance.

It didn’t matter that we weren’t celebrating a holiday or an anniversary the night we were there. From the moment we arrived, it was obvious that we were the occasion. At Oliver’s, luxury doesn’t necessarily mean elite or exclusive. It’s an experience-above-all-else mindset, and that’s what sets them apart.

Photos courtesy of Oliver’s Restaurant

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Katie McKenna

Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I have a passion for what this town was, is and has the potential to be - so that's what I write about. Everything from Buffalo's food & drinks, the influence of past Presidents and my attempts to be "outdoorsy". I love my city and I'm inspired to share that love.