Bennetts Hill has seen an explosion in new restaurant openings, with the Buffalo & Rye the latest addition to this avenue of eateries. Nestled between Bodega and Lost & Found, the venue advertises itself with an unassuming sign that simply says “Buffalo”. This is the first expression you’ll see of the restaurant’s Prohibition-inspired décor.
There are the usual touches that all Americana joints go with: the wooden tables, the retro diner-style lamps, the ceramic tiling…but Bitters n’ Twisted have added their own unique twist to the theme: the walls and ceiling are made up of black painted wooden pallets. The unexpected presence of these, coupled with the wine cellar-style drinks cages, trick you into believing you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be: drinking in some bartender’s speakeasy, or hidden in a loading bay from the likes of Eliot Ness.
Buffalo isn’t one of those Americana places that plasters the wall with anything vaguely American or 1950s-esque. The tackiness has been dialled back considerably; souvenirs are confined to display cases set into the pallets containing Funko Pop vinyl figures from famous American TV shows. In my opinion, I would have liked to see more variety in the memorabilia on show to lessen the impression that it had all come from one source.
Tables are in a canteen set-up suited to communal dining – these are best for group bookings or making friends with strangers.
Let’s Meet The Meat
Lunch began with a dish of Buffalo Chicken Wings. Marinated in hot sauce for 24 hours and served with a blue cheese dip, these were easily a highlight of the day. The skin possessed a satisfying crunch and the meat inside had been cooked perfectly – avoiding the all too common pitfalls of pink meat on the bone or an overly greasy texture. I would definitely have these again.
These were presented with a side order of Parmesan & Truffle Fries. This is a dish I’ve come across before in the steakhouse world as an attempt at elevating the standard side of fries to a high class option. Buffalo’s version achieves a better integration of its components than others I’ve tried, and the truffle flavour is there without being overpowering.
Next up, the signature Buffalo Black Burger: 2 beef patties surrounding a black pudding centre, topped with American cheese and a burger sauce that makes the dish pop with a pleasant woodsmoke/gherkin-y taste. The meat itself had been cooked just tenderly enough for me, with a stripe of pink still running through both patties, and the black pudding added a softer texture that I wasn’t expecting.
The fried beans served with it had a strong smoky flavour, although this wasn’t a dish I would normally order – the mixed in chopped meat didn’t stand out enough from the rest of the bean paste for my tastes.
There was barely time to catch a breath before the next round of assiduously assembled Americana made its way to our table: Chilli Cheese Fries and two hot dog variations. El Classico is a traditional US hot dog done right, including the painstakingly presented stripes of ketchup and mustard that make the dish look like it leapt off the TV screen…
The imaginatively named Pimp Doggy is a frankfurter reinterpretation of a Reuben sandwich, complete with sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Of the two, I preferred this one for the strong flavour identity of the sauce and the creativity behind it, although I would have preferred less cheese.
The Buffalo & Rye’s primarily meat-based menu offers flavours for both traditionalists and those who like to experience classics with a twist. All dishes were of a high standard, but the stand-out here for me has to be those wings – I could eat those all day.
Continue to Page 2 for our vegetarian Will’s perspective on the restaurant.