I finally had a chance to pop into 727 on Elmwood. What I thought was going to be a quick visit for lunch ended up being an extended and very memorable experience.
Originally I was planning on going solo, but thought I would extend an invitation to ‘queenseyes’, who readily accepted. Little did I know that he had asked a friend to accompany him. In typical Buffalo fashion, another friend saw us chatting at the bar, and opted to join in on the fun. I found it funny that I went from eating with Ariel (727’s friendly bartender – inset) at the bar to requesting a table for 4 outside. By the time the lunch experience began, that number grew to five – establishment owner Kevin Brinkworth was all too happy to sit down and go over the menu with us.
Before we sat down, I took a walk around to check out the changes – the restaurant had transitioned from the Blue Monk this past June. Thankfully, all of the establishment’s old world charm remained. To add to the decor, Kevin managed to acquire a wonderful piece of wall art that he obtained from the historic Phoenix Brewery – it’s now a focal point of the restaurant.
One of my favorite aspects of 727 is the beer garden – it’s a hidden gem in the heart of the city. Typically, everyone tends to think of 727’s patio fronting Elmwood, but little do they know that is this little oasis exists in back (open until 11pm daily).
Another secret hiding out at 727 is a private room that is located upstairs. It is known as ‘Room 22’ – essentially a private dining room that holds up to 22 people. The room us used for beer tastings, culinary events, meetings, etc. Until that day, I had no idea that this feature even existed – good to know about for functions and small gatherings.
After my little tour ended, I caught up with my friends out on the patio, adjacent to Elmwood which is always a treat. After browsing the menu, Kevin introduced us to Chef Ian McStravik who comes to Buffalo from the Ocean Reef Resort in Florida and The S. Hampton Yacht Club. According to Kevin, 727 prides itself on serving delicious, affordable tavern food that is unique to the establishment. Ian seemed like a very passionate guy who really loves his job. Being passionate is one thing – serving up quality fare is another. I was excited to see what this guy had up his sleeve.
Typically, I am not as much of a food critic as I am an observer of the way a restaurant handles itself – the big picture. I love good food and eat out a lot, but service, ambiance and the rest is all a major part of the experience. When it all comes together, along with great food, it’s very special. In this particular case, I must say that the food did live up to all expectations – Chef Ian worked some serious magic with his menu and his delivery of unique tavern fare.
727 has 12 taps dedicated to local breweries which include Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.
To me, the tater tots were a huge hit – the entire table agreed that they were some of the best in the business. They were perfectly crisped and flaked on the outside and mashed on the inside, with a side of melted beer/gruyere cheese for dipping. Honestly, the tots were the best I have ever had. The cheese pairing was a over the top.
The smoked wings were also a big hit – everyone dove right in. The silence at the table spoke for the contentedness of everyone. Plates were passed back and forth, as everyone exclaimed how surprised they were to not only find such interesting offerings, but also some newfound favorites. While the tots and the wings might not sound overly interesting, the way they were prepared made them so.
The rest of the menu items that made their way to the table were all fun and inventive, while remaining down to earth at the same time. It was pub fare taken to an entirely different level. Take, for example, the cheeseburger mac and the Brussel sprouts and bacon. My mouth is watering just thinking about these now.
Then there was the ahi tuna wonton stack – 8oz seared ahi tuna served with house made kimchi, topped with cucumber wasabi dressing. It’s Kevin’s favorite dish, which speaks for the meal. Typically I’m not a fan of gnocchi, but Ian managed to pull off a miracle. It was not overly dense and flavorless as I often find it. It was a dish that shined along with everything else at the table.
These were meals that we were not expecting to find on the 727 menu. We figured that the place was going to be more of a burger joint. The rest of the menu was just as interesting – it took us a long time to whittle it down to our favorites. Take a look for yourself (click to enlarge).
As we ate, I got a chance to get to know Kevin, who I had never met before. He told me that 727 Elmwood was once the home of Brinks, one of his family’s first tavern businesses in Buffalo. I liked the idea that he had this connection to the place. As for the name of the tavern, I love it for its simple zen logo – 727. I am a bit of a numerology freak and believe that 7 is a lucky number.
727 should be on the radar of people who are looking for delightful twists on typical American tavern fare. It’s not what I expected at all, and that’s a good thing. Kevin is running a good show, and Ian should be commended for presenting a food spread that did not disappoint. That said, everyone at the table is onboard for another Friday lunch gathering at 727, maybe as early as tomorrow? How ’bout it boys?
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Thursday 3p – 2:30am
Friday – Saturday 12 – 3:30am (Serving Lunch)
Sunday 11am – 2:30am (Serving Brunch)
* $3.50 Bloody Mary’s & Mimosa’s