6861 Main St., Williamsville, NY 14221
Web: Buffalo Brewpub
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Alcohol American Beef on Weck Beer Drinks Ribs Wings
"By suburban bar standards, Buffalo Brewpub is a solid option: a nice venue with better-than-expected food, pretty good service, and in-house beers that we genuinely enjoyed."
Although the Buffalo Brewpub has been at its Main Street location near Transit for over 20 years, it was only in the last two that we started to visit - after all, Brennan's was almost across the street, and when you find a nice bar with good beers and food, is there really a need to hunt around? The answer's actually yes; we've had a lot of fun exploring different places, challenging our conceptions of what's good locally, and experiencing various owners' efforts at providing hospitality. The Brewpub is just one example.
We can still recall visiting as neophytes, seeing baskets of popcorn on the tables and peanut shells on the floor, yet not realizing that we could follow the regulars and help ourselves to both from bins near the kitchen. And we sampled one or two of the good house beers that day, tried the Beef on Weck ($8.29) - memorably good, thanks more to the moist beer-seasoned meat than the kummelweck roll - and some fine French Onion Soup ($4), plus a salad and a burger, skipping the wings. Why? When we asked whether the wings were really fantastic, our genuinely nice young server confided that they were good, but in his words, not Duff's caliber. That was enough for us to trust him and tip him a little extra despite some service inconsistencies - we liked that he "got it," and wasn't afraid to be honest. What we ordered, we enjoyed, though we felt that a return visit would be necessary to render a proper verdict. That, we tried on a weekend night a few months ago, and the place was completely packed, parking lot and all.
Which brings us to this week, when we succeeded. Walking in the front door on a Thursday night to a sign that told us to seat ourselves, we quickly found both booths and tables open in a dining room that was approximately half full, 60-70% male, and exactly as we'd recalled it from our prior visit. Buffalo Brewpub's on-site beer brewing hardware was off to one side in a glass-windowed area, visible but nowhere near as prominent as at the Ellicottville Brewing Company, and the main dining area had an interesting mix of dark wood furniture and nice overhead lighting that made everything and everybody easy to see. The menus looked to have been very recently updated, and beautifully designed; similarly, our new server was like the one we'd had before - friendly and accommodating, but not very vigilant with drink refills, an oddity for a bar.
Our first beer choice, the Pilsner, was selected this time from a list of only four in-house brews on the menu, but it was out of stock - our server seemed to hint that the list wasn't up to date. She told us about six or seven current options, from which we selected the Weis, a truly great amber Hefeweisen that we enjoyed throughout the meal; we'd been prepared to try another but were never asked for a follow-up order. Plates came out as they were ready, at a reasonable but not brisk pace, and the aforementioned popcorn and peanuts could be replenished as often as we wanted to serve ourselves. Shells littered the floor around most of the tables; both the nuts and the lightly buttered, moderately warm popcorn were good, and fun to snack on while we waited.
Up first on this visit was a cup of the Brew Pub Chowder ($4), a nice enough seafood soup made with a lightly buttery and milky chowder broth, bits of shrimp - the tiniest variety - and similarly small clams, crab, and fish. While the chowder wasn't the richest or most wonderfully populated we've had, it was good enough, and the included oyster crackers added a little crunchy texture to compensate for the thinness of the soup.
Though we'd held off on trying the Chicken Wings ($9.29) previously, we'd been so curious since then that we felt compelled to order them this time, and did so: the menu, after all, claimed that they were "reportedly the best in Buffalo." As our previous server had honestly suggested, those reports would be wrong, but they were pretty good, anyway: our plate of ten wings arrived unattractively with carrots and celery scattered on top and a big cup of bleu cheese gushing onto a couple of the wings, despite our request to omit the cheese entirely from the plate. That aside, the "Suicide" level wings were fairly hot by local standards, and tasty, too. Wing fanatics might care to note that they were only the slightest bit crispy, and the brownish hot sauce contained pieces of hot pepper, but little of the buttery richness of flavor that we tend to prefer. This didn't stop the two of us from enjoying them all and discussing which person would luck out and get the last wings. That's always a fun discussion.
We were genuinely impressed by the quality of the meat in the BBQ St. Louis Ribs ($15/half rack), which our server correctly touted before delivery as relatively low in fat content. Kudos to whomever at the Brewpub selected these particular ribs to serve, as they were genuinely amongst the very best we've had locally: the standard local rib is low-grade meat well disguised with barbecue sauce, and while there's certainly a time and place for ratty, fatty, saucy fall-apart ribs, the Brewpub version is simply higher-quality fare. Its meat stays taut on the bone, doesn't have big chunks of fat or pieces of meat that can't stay together, and yet manages to taste very good without coming across as quite so unhealthy. The barbecue sauce wasn't anything memorable, but the meat below it really stood out here.
Our other pick for the meal was a Philly Sandwich ($8.39), a sub roll with mozzarella cheese on top of sliced, grilled chicken or steak - we went with the steak. And we really liked the sandwich, which was overflowing with gooey cheese-covered meat, green peppers, and a few onions from its front and sides; the meat was good enough that we picked up and ate even the pieces that had fallen off on the plate. Additionally, we customized the Philly with a side of "Brew City Fries" for a 79-cent upcharge. As it turned out, these fries were really very good - thin, slightly seasoned, and perfectly crispy, leading us into a competition to pick them up and chomp them down. They were a marked contrast with the potatoes included with the Ribs, fat steak fries that were virtually bereft of any flavor but potato, and any texture save blah-inducing sogginess. We had leftovers of the steak fries, yet didn't bother to take them home.
By local suburban bar standards, Buffalo Brewpub is a solid option: a nice venue with food that's better than one might expect, pretty good service, and in-house beers that we genuinely enjoyed. Though there are elements of the experience that bring it down a notch or so from comparable places such as Brennan's, we'd unquestionably go back here for the beer, the ribs, and the Beef on Weck, and wouldn't steer people away from any of the other items we've tried save the standard fries. It's a worthy neighborhood hangout, and certainly one of the better American-style pubs in Williamsville.