Hopefully everyone got a chance to go down to Liberty Hound at Canalside this summer to enjoy live music, the warm breeze off the lake and good food and drink. According to owners Jason Davidson and Mike Shatzel, the restaurant business was better than expected, and therefore the decision to stay open year 'round has been made (despite the NHL lockout). When Mike and Jay first decided to open at Canalside, they were unsure as to whether they were going to attempt to operate during the winter months - at least until there were more developments such as skating on the canals and additional planned winter activities.
After such a successful first summer, the plans swayed towards staying open through the winter and capitalizing on the Sabres' traffic. Then came the NHL lock out. "Even though there's a lock out," Jason told me. "We have a lot of momentum at this point and feel that people want to come down to Canalside to enjoy Liberty Hound because it's a destination. Plus, there are a quite a few residents in the area that are returning customers, and we're excited to keep our operation going to serve the fans of the restaurant. We have a new fall menu (see below) and this past Sunday we started serving brunch. Instead of scaling back, we've decided to put another foot forward and offer customers quality food and drink in an atmosphere that is cozy and warm."
I stopped down to try out Liberty Hound's brunch this past Sunday with my wife, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a decent sized crowd of people eating there. Word obviously travels fast around here.
I must say that the atmosphere at Liberty Hound is cozy. With all of the wood, copper and brick detail, the place exudes a warmth that is only matched by the Bloody Mary selection. As I sat, trying to look over the menu, I couldn't help but turn around to watch the boats in the canal. It was the perfect setting for a relaxing Sunday brunch.
The menu was not overly complicated, which made narrowing in on a selection fairly easy. I'm a sucker for potato pancakes, and the house-made apple butter clinched the deal. My wife went for the chilaquiles (sans chorizo). We also ordered a couple of Bloodies - I went for the Bloody Buffalo and she opted for the Bloody Maria. We also ordered a couple of coffees.
To start, the coffee and the complimentary corn muffins hit the spot. I later found out that a hint of chicory had been added to the coffee, which was so subtle and smooth that I couldn't place the flavor... it just smelled and tasted full bodied and flavorful. Then came the Bloodies. Oh man, while I really enjoyed my Bloody Buffalo with crumbly blue cheese, my wife's Bloody Maria with Tanteo jalapeño tequila was the winner. Once again chock full of flavor, with a nice bite to round it out. For that alone we will make a return trip.
When my potato pancakes arrived, I found them to be crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and combined with the apple butter I was happy - although in hindsight the next time I order this particular dish (which will be sooner rather than later) I am going to ask for a couple of sunny side eggs thrown on top for good measure. That will make the meal, at least for me, the perfect Sunday comfort food. Once again my wife's order, of the chilaquiles, was exceptional, with a medley of flavors that came together to create a flavorful, complex and soothing dish - the addition of cotija cheese (also known as Mexican Parmesan) really hit the spot. As an aside, the Crab Cake Benedicts (photo) not only looked amazing, the dish has become the signature brunch item at Liberty Hound.
I, for one, am happy that Liberty Hound will be open for fall and winter. It's about time that we had some eating options at Canalside throughout the year. Remember, there is plenty of parking along the new cobblestone streets, and it's a short walk from the Metro Rail. Here's a restaurant that could have opted to be seasonal, but instead it's expanding its offerings in order to draw more people to its door during the off-season. By the year 2013-14 there will be even more reasons to head down to Canalside during the winter, including skating on the canal and hopefully Sabres games (you never know). In the meantime be sure to add Liberty Hound to your list of brunch, lunch and dinner go-tos, and remember... the waterfront is open even when the snow flies!
Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner
1 Naval Park Cove,
1 (716) 845-9173
Also, to give you an idea of what you can expect on non-brunch days, here's the new fall/winter all-day menu.