Randiís Red Door Cafeí
1363 Sycamore Ave, Buffalo
by Laura McClusky & Mike Niman
East Buffalo Gazette Culinary Critics

In hot and steamy weather you want to surround yourself with the nicest people around. People who treat you like family, when the family is getting along. You donít want to be vexed, you donít want to be hassled, you just want to have a good relaxing time. Randiís Red Door fits the bill.

Ruth Johnsonís not an unknown figure in the newspapers. Her struggle to open a small cafe and restaurant on Sycamore has been well chronicled in The Buffalo News and The East Buffalo Gazette. What the media often forgets to talk about, however, is how worthwhile her struggle has been. Randyís Red Door is a sanctuary. Itís a clean homey place with pretty floral tablecloths and a warmth that has nothing to do with the weather. Itís a warmth you seek even in the hottest heat wave. Itís the warmth that comes with loving care and wisdom.

When we entered Ms. Johnson immediately saw to our needs, offering us each a nice big glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. "Thereís plenty, so donít try saviní it," she smiled knowing we were thirsty and needing some care on this humid 92 degree day. We could immediately tell we werenít in the usual restaurant. Ms. Johnson drew our attention to the chalkboard that serves as the daily menu. It changes everyday, so donít expect to find the same thing each time you come. Prices are the same though. Dinners are $5.95, chicken dinners $4.95. Both come with two sides. Extra sides, or sides al la carte are $.95.

We ordered the pepper steak and the pan-fried African whitefish, moister and sweeter than haddock, but otherwise much like it. The pepper steak consisted of sliced of beef cooked in a light sauce with green peppers and rice. For sides we ordered macaroni and cheese and potato salad. You get your choice of bread or corn muffin with your meal. We both ordered the corn muffin.

The fish was delicious, gently breaded and pan fried, moist, tender and completely boneless. The macaroni and cheese had a strong cheddar flavor, buttery and delicious. The potato salad was nicely mustardy and very creamy, also very good. Vegetarians would do very well here just ordering up a three side dishes. The pepper steak mas made from a lean cut of beef, tender with no fat. The corn bread muffins were fresh and moist.

Ms. Johnson also cooks up a host of deserts and usually has ice cream and cool bread pudding in the summer as well as cakes. Thereís also a free book exchange so if you have extra books, or need books or just feel like thumbing through a few books while drinking an ice cold lemonade, stop on by. You can also register to vote at the Red Door so if youíve moved recently or arenít registered, head to the Red Door quickly so you can vote in the September primary. The Red Door is open 8:30 - 4:00 (opens 9:30 on Sundays) every day but Tuesdays and holidays.

***We Are Sad to Report That the Red Door is Now Closed***