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Where gourmet food meets affordable prices: Dominic's Little River Bar and Grill

By Frank Parlato

Fine dining, white table cloths, and affordable prices at Dominic's
Little River Bar and Grill.
Chef and owner John Jourdain of Dominic's Little River Bar and Grill.
A true chef and culinary artist lives among us in Niagara Falls.
Dominic's has a full bar and a fine wine list to complement gourmet meals.
The setting is elegant, yet comfortable at Dominic's, which, after all, is the best way to enjoy a fine meal. Harvey Albond and Sheligh Love, seated in one of the comfortable booths at Dominic's, remarked repeatedly on the friendly and attentive service.

As I mentioned last week, I had the excellent privilege of dining in one of Niagara Falls’ newest fine-dining restaurants.

I went with Harvey Albond, the former city manager of Niagara Falls, consultant to the town of Niagara and elsewhere and an epicurean of renown and Sheligh Love, the noted Haitian music promoter.

First, the facts: the name of the restaurant is Dominic’s Little River Bar and Grill, so named because it fronts the Little Niagara River on Buffalo Avenue.

The place used to be called Justin Tyme and was a popular diner for several years.

This has changed. Get diner out of your mind when you think about Dominic’s.

This is fine food.

I had a 16-ounce, hand-cut, porterhouse steak, with 7-day simmered demi-glace, baked potato, vegetables and a sumptuous fresh, green, garden salad for $25.

It would have cost $50 at most other fine food establishments.

The secret, I suspect, to Dominic’s emerging identity is its owner and head chef, John Jourdain.

Some may recall John from his prior ownership of Trio’s Pizza, or from his days as a chef at the Red Coach Inn, Warrens in Tonawanda and other fine restaurants.

After six years of making pizzas, the 45-year-old chef said he wanted to switch to his true love—“presenting people with a good dining experience.”

In our case, he succeeded. I will not bore you with the superlatives that my guests or others in the restaurant lavished on the food. Harvey Albond said it best: “It is gourmet level. And the prices are extremely reasonable. My dinner was superb and the sauce was out of this world."

That was true. The sauce factually was out of this world.

While Harvey had the meat loaf with 7-day demi-glace, I savored the demi-glace and bleu cheese sauce on my steak for a full 45 minutes. I never ate a steak so slowly.

As Chef John explained, “A lot of restaurants will put demi-glace on a steak and it is out of a bag or a can. I roasted these veal bones for four or five hours and I cooked them for seven days to get the sauce that you had.”

“Why,” I asked. "And in Niagara Falls?"

“Why not? Why not take it to another level?” the chef said. “I always try to take it to the highest possible level that I can.”
It shows.

“My prime rib that I cook,” the chef explained, as he warmed to his topic, “I stick a rosemary skewer right through the middle of it to make it more flavorful. Why just throw a piece of meat there when you can cut slots in it and place garlic in there and rosemary. It gives it a better, richer flavor.”

The chef said he was particularly proud of his seafood risotto, with shrimp, scallops, langostino and crab sautéed in sherry and cream; his homemade soups; his barbeque ribs, which, he said, “fall off the bone” and his “super jumbo lump crab” which he is known to present with lobster tails.

And speaking of lobster tails, a diner can add a six-ounce tail to their meal for $10.

Jourdain added with pride, “That’s a cold water lobster tail. We do not chintz and use langostino. I cook it so it melts in your mouth.”

Jourdain selects all of his meats and all of his steaks are 100 percent Black Angus beef. He cuts them himself and nothing, he admonishes, is ever frozen here.

The chef also spoke of a specialty he loves to prepare: rosemary-grilled twin 8-ounce lamb chops with roasted red peppers, gorgonzola, rosemary demi-glace and vegetables.

The restaurant can serve up to 145 people including a private dining area that seats about 25. There is a ten-boat dock on the river and this summer we expect that a number of hungry boaters will stop in and avail themselves of a hearty meal.

One does not need to have a yacht, either, to afford Dominic’s.

The prices are outstanding for food this good.

Miss Love has traveled and dined in top flight restaurants from Los Angeles to New York City to the ports of the Caribbean. She said of Dominic’s, “It’s a value. It is the only place I know of where you can get the quality and taste of gourmet food at such reasonable, affordable prices.”

Try it yourself sometime.

Dominic’s Little River Bar and Grill is located at 7611 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls, New York.



Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Dec 04 , 2012