Sandwiched between the nightlife strips of Allen and Chippewa, a small slice of Delaware Avenue is fast becoming a destination for lovers of refined foods.
Rowhouse Bakery and Café is the latest addition to this sleepy drag of Delaware, and the full-service restaurant is bringing more heat than an Eminem freestyle – with third-wave coffee, artisanal bread, cold-pressed juices, craft cocktails, Neapolitan-style pizzas, gourmet packaged goods, and fine dining.
Oh yeah, the place is head-spinningly gorgeous… aaand the wood-burning ovens make the whole place smell like an Ellicottville chalet in winter.
With a wide range of food, a spacious ground floor and around 10 different eating areas, Rowhouse can be a kid-friendly casual spot, a venue for business meetings, a go-to for Tinder dates or even a corner store. There’s so much on offer, and so much of it looks so good; for Allentowners like me, it’s going to be hard not to blow half a week’s pay on the regular. (It’s good to know I can pop into City Wine Merchant for a bottle of Grenache, then swing by Rowhouse to find cheese and charcuterie to match.)
“I think that’s what people want,” said co-owner Sean Tuohey. “People want to have whatever they are feeling in the moment. That’s the kind of place that we hope to create.
“This place makes me happy,” he added, “and I feel like people will come in here because it just makes them happy too.”
Tuohey noted that the market-bakery-restaurant concept is on the rise in America and in putting together Rowhouse, his team looked at Republique in Los Angeles, The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, The Grange Community Kitchen in Hamburg, and Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora. The result is a culinary colony in stately, historic rowhouses.
At a recent evening media event, the Neapolitan-style pizzas had toppings with thundering, meaty flavors, which contrasted nicely with the delicate, crispy crusts. There were also precious palm-sized tarts and pastries on offer at the bakery counter. In two dining areas, there were pungent spreads and a spongy, crackly dark bread that leveraged Mediterranean flavors.
In the back of the restaurant, there was a grab-and-go ready room with gourmet cheeses, sparkling water, cured meats, organic candies, salads, jams, jellies, hummus, fresh cold-pressed juices, local maple syrup, chocolates, and even gourmet dog treats. Speaking with staff at the event, I was told provisions in the grab-and-go area will change with the seasons.
Up on the second floor, I found a culinary revelation that hit me dead in the lizard brain: a dry-aged roast beef that provided drop-to-your-knees flavor and complexity. If you put a few slices of that inside a Kaiser roll topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt, you’ll likely have a sandwich worthy of canonization: Saint Beef on Weck.
At the street-level bar, ambient light from Delaware streamed in as bartenders mixed up craft cocktails put together by Scott Waller, owner of the beverage consultancy firm Liquid Assets. Waller’s opening week drink roster featured takes on classics that were inspired by other Rowhouse products. One featured cold-pressed watermelon juice. Another featured brewed teas, and yet another mixed house-made espresso and bourbon cream infused with sweet rolls from the bakery.
“We have so many cool departments, when I put together the cocktail program, I wanted to make sure I included products from all of them,” Waller told me. “We have these things to use, so let’s use them!”
Waller, a certified sommelier, said his wine and cocktail selections are meant to harmonize with the amazing food being belted out of the Rowhouse kitchen and bakery. Case in point: the wine list features multiple bottles of red meant to pair perfectly with Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Those pizzas along with sandwiches made using house-made bread and upscale rustic American entrees are all available in Rowhouse’s second-floor dining rooms, where table service is provided.
Tuohey admitted that Rowhouse is a work in progress. Kinks are still being worked out, early feedback is being considered and plans are being made to make the space more kid-friendly, as well as more accommodating to professionals working remotely.
“This place is organic. This place is going to evolve and it’s going to become what it should be,” he pledged.
Rowhouse Bakery and Restaurant
Location: 483 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
Style: Part full-service dining room, party grab-n-go cafe, part cocktail bar
Tuesday to Thursday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.