Update: Bourbon and Butter is closed as of April 2016
391 Washington St./ Business District / Downtown | (716) 253-6453
Hours: Tues.- Thurs 11:30- 2:3o- and 5-10; Fri. 11:30- 2:30 and 5-11; Sat. 5-11
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The current trend in American dining is go casual but bring the big flavor. It seems that America’s appetite for haute cuisine has grown, not so much for stuffy, formal dining. Cue Bourbon and Butter, the latest redo of Mike A’s @ Lafayette. More accurately Mike Andrzejewski with his talented staff opened up a brand new restaurant, and they have done the fine food in casual comfort genre to perfection.
Speaking of talented staff, with Chef/Owner Mike Andrzejewski at the helm, Mixologist/Sommelier Tony Rials running the bar, Chef De Cuisine Chris Daigler and reportedly acclaimed Chef Bruce Weiszala (formerly Tabree and Camelo’s) joining the team, you have likely the most talented group in town.
We figured since it was the same kitchen and mostly the same staff as Mike A’s we could cut short the usual wait time. Sure, the service-kitchen coordination won’t be perfect, but when I saw the menu I couldn’t wait to dig in. We had a reservation for 7:00 on a Tuesday night and were happy to see that most of the tables were occupied. By 9:00 the place was full and the bar was buzzing.
If you haven’t been to the Lafayette since the massive restoration it is worth the stop. It holds three restaurants, several banquet rooms, including the former Mike A’s room, a brewery, boutique hotel, apartments and a lovely lobby.
The new digs for Bourbon & Butter are across the hall in what was the bar. It is an attractive art deco motif with some edgy lighting, beautiful tile floors set off by tall ceilings and massive blond oak pillars. They did a nice job separating the bar with a banquette wall. The seating is comfortable for dining, but if you’re looking for quiet and intimate you might want to try Butterwoods downstairs because this place is loud and upbeat.
The concept for Bourbon and Butter is casual, bar crowd, small plates to sample and/or share at a reasonable price. I stress reasonable price. Mike A’s had a reputation for pricey, but this dining might be the best value in Western New York.
Feasting started with a loaf of brown bread with a bourbon flavored butter. Love it! What a great way to start- creative yet homey. Everyone at the table was reminded of their grandmother.
A big part of the new Bourbon and Butter is an emphasis on single-barrel bourbons, as well as scotches and whiskeys. In the interest of appearances we decided to save that for a follow up post. We did sample a couple of fine beers (Flying Bison Oktoberfest and a Bells Two Hearted Ale) and some excellent Italian Piaggia Carmignano (Sangiovese) wine – $64. All beers are by the bottle. They have a good wine list. The adult beverages might not be quite as value oriented as the food.
This group is all about tasting and sharing so for the most part we went with small plates.
Half Shell Oysters – Daily Selection, Classic Garnishes $14.
I love fresh Oysters and these were great, but given the quality of some of the other dishes I think I’d save the room next time.
Beet and Crisp Chevre Salad – Goat Cheese Croquette, Roast Beets, Tarragon Oil, Dijon Dressing $11.
Seems like the beet and goat cheese salad is everywhere these days, and maybe for good reason. I can say I’ve sampled many but none better than this.
Plancha Grilled Calamari – Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon $11
Plancha is a method of grilling, generally using slate. This was a beautiful yet simple presentation of squid that was cooked to a perfect tenderness. If you like squid, this dish is far better than the deep fried cousin.
Butternut Squash & Tortellini Soup – Squash Puree, Smoked Chicken $8.
We figured this as an appetizer and when it didn’t show up we were confused…until it did. It comes as a giant bowl of soup, for lack of a better term. More like a bowl of awesomeness. Smoked chicken tortellini smothered in this luscious squash concoction with small bits of squash, sprinkled with walnuts. So sweet it could be a dessert. Eight dollars? That’s a mistake right?
Sweet Corn Fettuccini – Homemade Pasta, Sweet Corn Cream, Mushrooms, Shaved Truffle $12.
The fresh house-made pasta makes all the difference. The flavor is a little more delicate than most of the other dishes. This is small and if you like truffles I’d suggest as a perfect starter.
Pork Crepinette – Shallot Caramel Sauce, lime, cilantro $12.
BAM! This dish rocks with flavor. One of us thought a bit too salty but not me. Crepinette is basically a sausage patty. Mine came with a shrimp on top. The Shallot Caramel sauce is heavenly.
The Korean Kalbi Beef Steamed Bun(3)-Mild KimChee, Sriracha Mayo- $10
These were perfect in their creative presentation and flavor. The self assembly allows you to create a bite with just the right amount of meat, heat and cilantro for your taste. In my case, I couldn’t stuff enough of each element into the amazingly soft and fluffy buns. The meat was cooked to perfection, covered in flavor. Each bite brought my favorite flavors of Korean cuisine together in harmony in the form of a manageable taco shaped bun. Amazingly, there’s no mess involved in this dish. This was probably the favorite of the evening.
Slow Cooked Beef on Weck – Beef Short Ribs, Gravy, Fries $11
Brilliant! This is one of those “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself” ideas. It is as good as it sounds. With such a great menu I was a bit hesitant to order beef on Weck, but I’m glad I did. The beef was dripping with goodness, even the horseradish was special. Maybe the only better value on the planet is the Butternut Squash & Tortellini Soup.
Prime Flatiron Steak – Potato Pave, Persillade $26
Potato Pave is a lip-smacking, layered potato dish. Persillade is the mixture on top, general some combination of parsley chopped together with garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar. The Flatiron was full flavored, juicy and cooked to perfection. This is a great cut of meat with a flavor that is the equal of a rib eye.
Brie Macaroni & Cheese – $5.
Sadly the person that ordered this ate it all before the rest of us could get a taste. I gathered it was really good. 😉
For dessert we sampled the Goat Cheesecake- $8. Smothered with blue berries – decadent.
The menu is full of items for which I’ll be returning. Check it out here.
Our waiter mentioned they are small plates thus going for full flavor. He wasn’t kidding. I love full flavor. Sounds obvious, but strangely some people can get overpowered. Not only was the food picture perfect, creative and full flavored, the whole dining experience was just flat fun. It’s a little bit like taking a quick trip to some foreign land and sampling the local fare. Mike A. is a legend in the Buffalo food scene (Seabar, Tappo and Cantina Loco), but Bourbon and Butter might just be his best effort to date.
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