Remember Mad Men?
It was a TV show on a couple years ago about a bygone America era: smoking everywhere, three-piece suits at the office, ladies’ cashmere coats in winter and little kids playing with plastic bags from the dry cleaner.
The new Eckl’s@Larkin has Mad Men vibes all over it; from the mid-century modern furniture to the gold snakeskin wallpaper. If you know that it’s based on an Orchard Park institution, the original Eckl’s, the classic vibe at the new location should come as no surprise.
Owner Jim Cornell, who purchased the original Eckl’s a few years back, recently told Step Out Buffalo the goal with the new place was to create the feeling of an old-school supper club “with an edge.”
The decor at the new Eckl’s is as impeccable as Joe Manganiello’s abs peeking out from an unbuttoned shirt: Art Deco styling, an open layout, tall ceilings, dark-stained wood, gold fixtures and a few rustic touches. It’s the type of place you can imagine rich New Yorkers escaping to back in the day (or the kind of place you can sneak off to right now for a three-martini lunch).
Inspired by food at the original location, the new Eckl’s menu features updates on classic food and classic takes on modern food.
“The idea was to take some of the Eckl’s classic choices and start building on them to establish a higher offering while still giving the same classic Buffalonian treats that everyone loves,” said head chef Andrew Marino.
The small plates that we were given to sample on a recent visit showcased Chef Marino’s style – very fresh, high-quality ingredients assembled to create layers of flavor and texture.
Case in point: The Frank Lloyd Wright Bruschetta featured bone marrow butter, perfectly-sauteed chanterelles, rapini and pancetta marmalade. Biting into this massive hunk of toast unleashed a melee of rustic, roasty flavors and a briny umami. It’s crunchy, hearty and super craveable; you’ll be going back for bite after bite. Just remember to breathe kid.
The Roasted Beet Sonata featured multicolored, melty beets and a showstopper truffle-churned goat cheese that was as thick and creamy and the best ice cream you’ve ever had. Marino’s take on avocado toast could be the ideal brunch weapon, capable of battering your deepest, darkest Fireball-triggered hangover.
When asked for one of his personal favorites, Marino pointed to his take on shrimp cocktail: The cocktail sauce is made from a spicy tomato jelly and topped with fresh grated horseradish root.
“When you dip the shrimp in and pull it out, you get the horseradish attached to the spicy tomato jelly,” he said. “It gives you the same flavors as cocktail sauce, but in a different delivery method.”
Unlike some other upscale restaurants in the area, Eckl’s tends to offer plate-filling portion sizes. The food is refined but definitely not delicate: You are not walking out of here looking for a snack.
Serving burgers, steaks, beef on weck and a few vegan dishes, we’d like to think this is a can’t-miss option for a big date or a big celebration. The new Eckl’s also has a separate lunch menu featuring break-friendly sandwiches, pasta and other items. There are several different dining rooms, including a chef’s table for those who demand the VIP treatment, as well as banquet facilities for business events or weddings.
The bar was still in soft-opening mode on our visit. There was no cocktail menu and we were told the current wine list, which has around 40 bottles, will get a bit longer. The beer list featured a combination of local and national craft beers.
In true Don Draper fashion, we decided to sip on a tasty proprietary Eckl’s Lager, a Tom Collins and a Manhattan — all at once — while Frank Sinatra sang in the background.
Here’s to the classics.
703 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14210
Hours: Monday to Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (lunch menu), 4 p.m. – close (dinner), Saturday: 4 p.m.- close (dinner), Sunday: closed