Author: Megan DiGesare
In Buffalo with its blossoming food scene there are a plethora of restaurants to consider when trying to pick a great spot for dinner. This time I was looking for a restaurant that would be perfect for a group of eight for my sister’s bachelorette dinner. I wanted to show the ladies what it is like to be a food blogger, and set them up with a tasting dinner. I reached out to Mike Shatzel, owner of Coles, Allen Burger Venture, Liberty Hound, The Moor Pat, and formerly Blue Monk Buffalo (one of mine and my sister’s favorites) to see if he was able to accommodate us at one of his restaurants. To my surprise, he suggested his newest venture with Rocco Termini, Thin Man Brewery. Thin Man just opened up in June and occupies the spot that once housed Toro and Faherty’s. The name comes from the precursor to the modern day crash test dummy, which was actually manufactured in Western New York.
Since I am currently living out of state, I hadn’t heard of it, so quickly went to their website. The menu, large but not overwhelming, had a variety of items that would satisfy even the pickiest diner. Finding out that it was a scratch kitchen with fresh local ingredients was a huge selling point as well.
I worked with Shatz and the GM, Mike Pijanowski, to put together a wish list of dishes that I thought my sister and the other ladies attending would enjoy. Chef Bruce Wieszala, whose resume includes Tabree and Bourbon & Butter, was put to the task of coming up with a course dinner for eight, and I was not given any clue what would be on the menu that evening until we arrived.
Although the brewery is not producing their own draft beer just yet, they have an extensive selection of draft and bottled beers. From those who like to play it safe to the beer connoisseur — there’s a brew for everyone. I opted for the Bear Republic Pace Car Racer Session IPA ($8) and the bride-to-be went with the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA ($7). Both hoppy, which made us happy.
Served by Jessie and AJ, we started our culinary journey with the Bacon Nubs. Presented in a hot cast iron skillet, they were still sizzling as they hit the table. Coated with a brown sugar maple glaze and finished with rosemary, they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious with bacon’s necessary crispness.
Next up was a charcuterie plate with beef terrine, homemade chorizo, soppresata, warm crusty baguette, pickled carrots, and sour cherries. I loved the fact that the bread wasn’t pre-sliced and you had to rip into it, bringing me right back to family dinners as a child.
The next course was the components of their vegetable plate ($21). Crunchy Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Mushrooms, and Roasted Beets. The Crunchy Potatoes, a group favorite, had fingerling potatoes, onion, and fontina cheese, topped with parmesan crisps. As I sit here eating my leftovers and my personal favorite, the roasted beets, I am surprised that they taste just as good today as they did last night. The sweetness of the perfectly cooked rainbow beets with salty feta cheese is complimented by the bitter braised greens and the crunch of the hazelnuts.
After the veggies came eight individual tasters of their sweet corn bisque topped with popcorn. It was so decadent I was glad that it was smaller portions than normal. I would have licked the bowl if I didn’t think people would have stared at me, and even then, I probably would have if we didn’t have more food coming.
By this point I was already getting full, so I was delighted to see a lighter salad arrive at the table. The Tomato and Watermelon Salad ($10) was a delicious crisp and juicy summer salad. It was chock full of watermelon, tomato, grapefruit, fresh herbs, and pine nuts. Dressed with a lemon drop vinaigrette and topped with a house smoked ricotta salata. A note here: if you love the smell and flavor of smoke, this is for you. If not, ask for the cheese to be left off or replaced with feta. The smokiness was somewhat overwhelming.
Manager Josh Bauer came by to say hello and to check on us to make sure that everything was going well. From what I could tell, service and management was top notch, and everyone around us seemed to be enjoying themselves.
As if we hadn’t had enough food, the ribs and the mac and cheese arrived. The rib preparation changes periodically, and AJ explained that we would be having Carolina Style served atop mustard potato salad. The Mac ‘n Cheese ($12) was oozing with cheese and full of bacon, topped with duck fat bread crumbs. Need I say more?
Just when we thought that was it, and I was running through the wish list in my head, Roasted Chicken ($20) and the Thin Man Burger ($14) were brought to the table! The chicken had a perfectly seasoned crispy skin and was served with Swiss chard and fingerling potatoes. I could only manage to eat a few bites, but I sure am glad I did. The greens were full of garlic, and the chicken was tender and fell right off the bone. The patty is 80% beef, 10% marrow and 10% rendered fat from Prime Rib for the ultimate tender juicy burger. We were served sliders, but the normal burger comes with two of these delicious patties, pickles, lettuce, house mayo, ketchup, and American cheese.
Knowing that I had NOTHING left on the wish list, I felt safe in saying we were finished. I purposely did not ask for dessert because we had already eaten cake earlier in the day. As I am waiting for the check, they bring out not one, not two, but three different desserts. A creme brûlée topped with papaya, a pie they call “Crack Pie”, and a Chocolate Hazelnut Torte finished with sea salt. Delectable, all three!
When asked why we were getting desserts, we were told that they are new and not even on the menu yet, so they wanted us to try them out.
Needless to say, after eating at Thin Man Brewery, I felt anything but. My friend went as far as coming up with the hashtag #fatgirlbrewery. We were all fat and happy by the end of the evening. I highly recommend Thin Man Brewery to anyone in the Buffalo area, or if you are visiting the area, make it a destination.
The menu at Thin Man Brewery is known to change on a weekly or daily basis and the items you see on the online menu may not be available on the day you dine. Please call ahead to inquire about the specials of the day and any menu changes. They do offer a Whole Suckling Pig for Market Price and it must be ordered at least 4 days ahead of time. The brewery side of the gastropub is slated to open later this month.