If you’re someone that believes in any sort of superstitions, then going out of your house on 6/16/16 probably isn’t a good idea.
When Thin Man owner/operator Mike Shatzel graciously invited me and good friend Adam Boyd (103.3 the Edge) to the friends and family event last night (Thursday), nothing could stop us from partaking in the maiden voyage of this already talked about hot spot… not even superstitions.
After a couple of days of testing the waters, Thin Man officially (really officially) opened today, just in time for the blast of warm weather this weekend. After reading this introductory article on Thin Man, I was excited to get in, scope the place out and try some food offerings. My initial reaction? It’s much bigger than one would think. After taking in the size of the place, I met up with bar keep Mike Thompsett, better known as Tex. Tex is a mountainous man with some solid ink and beard to match. If he wasn’t bartending, I can assure you he would make a great grip on a movie set. The man is well versed in the art of the cocktail thanks to his travels throughout the US, and his many years spent behind the pine at Mr. Goodbar. Right off the bat, Tex recommends a few beers on the menu and starts us off on our promising food pilgrimage.
Only if I were a velociraptor (which sometimes I wish I was) would I have enjoyed that meal more than I did. Thin Man is a carnivore’s playground! Meat mastermind and head chef Bruce Wieszala has crafted a menu that he describes as “fat-kid” food. As I browsed down the menu, I wasn’t able to argue with him. Although ‘healthy’ is the new in, so is the “stick to your ribs’ sort of fare that many of us used to eat as kids. And just like mom used to make, almost all of it is made in house.
Speaking of ribs ($11), our first course arrived as we were chatting. I ripped into them and found that the bark contained that deep, dark, chewy, crusty, complex caramelized flavor. Not overly saucy where you need 86 wet wipes to eat the next one… a flavorful dry rub, and expertly smoked, containing the pink rings of BBQ success cascading through the inside. Alongside the meat wands was a light, house made mustard and mayo mixed salt potato salad. Backyard BBQs everywhere would be jealous.
Coated in a brown sugar maple glaze, the Bacon Nubs ($9.5), simply put, are crispy delicious bits of heaven served in a cast iron skillet. Move over Pretzel M&M’s, there is a superior sweet and salty combination in America!
The roasted bone marrow ($11) – a dish I have seen popping up on a few menus around WNY – was served alongside another menu anomaly, sweetbreads. The marrow was textbook. It glistened atop the toast point, with just the right amount of finishing salt to enhance the flavor. The fried sweetbreads also added a salty crunch that I thought worked very well, adding great depth to this dish.
Larger than your standard shells, the homemade mac’n cheese ($12) was creamy and velvety. Enhanced with bacon and topped with duck fat bread crumbs, a meal in itself, but perfect to share among friends.
The daily preparation of Moules Frites ($Mkt) were sautéed with Chinese sausage in a phở broth with mustard greens and cilantro. Mixed with a 5 spice blend and cilantro, the sausage meatballs were an excellent flavor addition to the mild texture of the mussels; a fun spin on the traditional Belgian dish. The French fries however were soft and didn’t have the desired crispiness as I would have liked.
Next up, Tex brought us a sampling of the fried housemade Spam ($10). Topped with caramelized onions and a side of mustard – sans bun. This dish would make any Hawaiian proud!
The meatloaf ($16) was plated with mashed potatoes and a green bean casserole. Each piece was spread with a smoked house ketchup before the scratch gravy was poured over top. Griddled outside, yet still very tender and moist inside. A quintessential ‘fat-kid’ meal!
Bringing us to the culmination of the meal was the Tokyo Burger ($19). This delectable creation could easily be featured at the Albright Knox and displayed for its beauty. An 8oz super lean, all natural beef patty, that’s been mixed with bone marrow (yeah, bone marrow) to proportionally give the 80-20 mix. Covered in melted Gruyère, glazed pork belly strips, caramelized onions, and a fried egg, then layered above a Texas sized slice of brioche toast. But, that’s not all, the brioche gets lathered with a spicy remoulade and then sits upon a savory au poivre sauce. This burger appeared to have gone through a javelin competition, as there was a giant knife skewering an onion ring in the middle of the burger! There was so much flavor going on in this dish I can only tell you to try it for yourself – a true masterpiece and the pinnacle of our meal. You will not be disappointed.
The brewery should be up and running in August – that’s when all of Buffalo will get to sample what head brewer Rudy Watkins has been working on since February. Shatzel joined us during our dinner with his thoughts on Thin Man, saying “It will be a destination for the beer, but people will eat the food and realize how great a collaboration of the two it really is.” While only being introduced to the food thus far, I would have to agree I look forward to the pairing of the two.
Prior to our departure, Tex gave us a few more upcoming insights still in the works. One of them was regarding the upcoming house made Bloody Mary, a project of which he is the foreman. The Bloody Mary, to me, is the keystone of any brunch. I can’t divulge all of his surprises but he did say the Sunday staple “will be very complementary to our heavily pork centric menu.” Also with the new change to the archaic blue law, drinks can now be served at 10am so he will be turning out plenty of the crimson cocktails.
The start date for brunch is still to be determined – stay tuned to BRO for more info.
In the meantime, it’s great to see these two powerhouses come together to create such a fun undertaking. Being in the entertainment business, this collaboration kind of reminds me of Kanye’s new release ‘Champion’. The song has the potential to be this summer’s smash hit, just as Thin Man has the potential of being a wicked success on Elmwood Avenue.