Being a pescatarian, it’s not often that I find myself at restaurants where the focus is red meat. But when I heard that a restaurant had opened that was featuring wild game instead of the traditional steakhouse offerings, I decided that I wanted to check the place out. So I rounded up a couple of my friends and we headed to The Archer in Downtown Buffalo, to see and taste cuisine that sounded rather promising.
The Archer is a large restaurant that has tons of potential. Being so large, there are a few different areas (upstairs and down) where guests can choose to sit. Downstairs, the lights looked to be way too bright unfortunately, otherwise we would have chosen to sit in what looked to be charming area off to the side. Instead we asked to be seated upstairs, overlooking the first floor. Our waiter named Michael (he left a card on the table to prove it), was very accommodating and helped us to navigate the different selections, all of which were equally tempting. He informed us that the elk, the venison, the antelope (among others) that we saw on the menu were procured from a wild game reserve in Texas, and that the animals were treated as humanely as possible. That bit of news appealed to my friends, even though I still preferred to head down the aquatic road for my dinner selection.
First things first, the house-made sunflower seed bread that Michael brought to the table was worth the trip alone. The warm artisanal loaf, served with maple cinnamon butter, was a big hit and was devoured (mostly by me) immediately. Another welcome surprise came in the form of our sole appetizer – the Welsh Rarebit that was served with soft baked pretzel sticks. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I love the stuff. The dish was prepared in a manner that set it apart from the usual thin, soupy, overly-processed style. Our serving was flavorful and hearty, and I could have eaten all three pretzel sticks myself (though I did begrudgingly share).
Next up came the diver sea scallops (my order), served with artichokes and pepadews in a peri peri sauce served over curried basmati rice. The pepadews were a welcome twist that helped to balance the perfectly spiced scallops. Next time I might trade up the rice for the roasted garlic whipped potatoes that came with the elk. But overall my meal was perfectly cooked and presented.
Both the antelope (prepared extra lean) and the surprisingly light and flavorful elk, were hits with the rest of the table, leaving everyone completely satisfied. “Chef Josh” has a masterful way of working with meats, in order to bring out the subtle nuances that can easily be lost without proper cooking etiquette. Obviously the chef/owner has created a menu built around his comfort zones. Even the house salad (free with dinner) was a winner.
Other than the bright lighting and relatively sparse decor, we found the offerings at The Archer to be quite satisfying and warranting a return trip. The menu sets the restaurant apart from traditional steakhouses, and is a welcome addition to Downtown Buffalo. I hope that the owners consider throwing some live music into the mix – nothing over the top… maybe a piano player? Either way, it’s nice to see something a bit out of the ordinary and promising in both the food and the service departments.