First Impressions

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.

Buffalo

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

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

Buffalo

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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