It wasn’t that long ago that Governor Cuomo signed the Mimosa Law – a new liquor law that permits the sale of alcohol in Buffalo as early as 10am on any given Sunday. With that in mind, my wife and I set out yesterday to find a place that was serving an early brunch. Our first thought was Betty’s. We had not been there is a while, so we felt that it would be perfect on a nice, bright, sunny Sunday. We set our clock back the night before, and were ready to conquer the day… after brunch and a couple of Bloody Mary’s of course.
When we got to Betty’s we could barely get through the front door. The place was packed. Everyone was standing around waiting for a table, so we opted to leave. Good for Betty’s! As we stood on the sidewalk, we weighed our options. Where to next? Surely other restaurants were taking advantage of the earlier Sunday brunch time? Seeing that Betty’s was killing it at that hour in the morning, someone else must be taking advantage of the Mimosa Law. The search was on.
Between stopping in, phoning in and scoping out websites (in search of a 10am brunch) we hit up Panorama on Seven, Liberty Hound, Lenox Grill, Coco, Templeton Landing, Nye Park, Black Sheep, Toutant, Coles, 727 Elmwood, Gabriel’s Gate, Oshun, Thin Man, 716 Food and Sport, Osteria 166, Ulrich’s, The Mahony (among others)… and then we headed to South Buffalo thinking “Someone in South Buffalo/Lackawanna is surely taking advantage of this earlier brunch time?” Thinking positive thoughts, we headed (or called) the usual suspects – The Mess Hall, Black Iron Bystro, Conlon’s, Blackthorn, Doc Sullivan’s, Potters Field, Wiechec’s, to no avail. We even stopped into The Buffalo Irish Center (photo – inset), not knowing if they even served brunch, but by that time we had been driving around for more than an hour and were willing to get creative. Unfortunately they were setting up for a private event. We never even found out if they typically serve up a Sunday brunch.
After sitting in the car for a few minutes, the clock struck 11am and a bevy of options began to open up to us. At that point, we decided to head downtown. At that same time, our friend called from out of the blue and suggested that we all meet at Oshun, as they serve up 2-4-1 brunch cocktails on Sundays (at the bar). That sounded good to us.
Upon walking into Oshun at 11am (just as they opened) we were greeted by the bartender, who was getting ready for a big brunch day. As far as brunches go, you can’t find another place in the city that looks as great as Oshun does. I love the high ceilings, the back bar, the seating arrangements, the natural light that floods the place. We were happy to be there, for sure… despite wasting an hour of our day while on the hunt.
Oshun for Brunch
Instead of sitting right at the bar, we opted to grab a table at the seating area within the bar space. Due to the proximity of the bar, and being so close to the opening of the restaurant, the bartender opted to wait on us. He was jovial and accommodating, but he also seemed to know that it wouldn’t be long before he was in the weeds. So he loaded us up with some coffee and made every effort to stop by to check on us early on. He did a great job, while tending to the steady stream of diners who walked in and sat at the bar.
Taking a look at the brunch menu, we were happy with what we saw. I was tempted to start off with the Donut(s) of the Day, but figured that we were going to be ordering appetizers and entrees and thought better of it. After settling into a Bloody Mary (finally), I decided to go with the Buffalo Clam Chowder to start. My wife opted for the biscuits & country gravy. My clam chowder was light and delicious, which was nice – the perfect way to start brunch. The soup was brothy instead of being super creamy, just as I expected from Oshun. My wife’s biscuits/gravy was off the chart (see photo below). It was absolutely incredible – a large serving of pillowy biscuits with rich gravy, teeming with smokey bits of ham, topped off with some sliced peppers and onions. I couldn’t help but eat half of her serving, which was fine with her due to its size.
I happily sipped my Bloody Mary as the bar as the restaurant began to fill up. Our server/bartender was soon in the weeds (as expected), which meant that another server brought us our main courses. Unfortunately, the second round was not nearly as good as the first. My wife’s order of grilled chicken cobb salad was served without bacon or hardboiled egg, which are two staple ingredients to the dish. Her chicken was also way overcooked and therefore dry (almost to the point where it was hard to cut through). As for my order – The Breakfast Bowl (coconut shrimp, scrambled eggs, cheddar, salsa verde, pico de gallo), I felt that it was lacking in the taste department. The shrimp was not very ‘coconutty’ and didn’t work with the dish (see photo below). There should have been a lot more salsa verde and pico de gallo. It was a bit dry, especially with the circling of tortilla chips. A dollop of sour cream would have helped too. The dish just kind of fell flat, even after I splashed it with hot sauce.
Although the second half of the meal was not as good as the first half, we were still pretty happy. It’s hard not to be happy in such a killer space. Plus, the Bloody Marys were rockin’ and we were enjoying simply being together for a Sunday brunch, which is my favorite meal of the week. We will definitely be back for the biscuits and gravy – one of the best brunch items in the city, not to mention the 2-4-1 drinks!
If only there were a few more places around town that were open earlier on a Sunday. I know that the request is tough on the staff and owners who have already been through a rough work week. It would only take a couple more places like Betty’s to accommodate those who are looking to eat and drink earlier – and Betty’s obviously has more business than it can handle.
I must mention that a couple of our regular go-tos for brunch – Trattoria Aroma and Left Bank – are always great options that are very reliable… when you can get in! Getting back to the 10am ordeal, we also just learned that Deep South Taco was open for brunch yesterday an hour early to catch the daylight savings time people who might get thrown off (smart!). The owner is now contemplating starting off at 10am on a regular basis. We’re going to try that next. We also forgot that Providence Social opens at 10am, and that is right around the corner from our house. So that’s on the list too.
Obviously, there are a lot of places open for brunch in Buffalo. Hopefully a few more will step up and open at 10am for the early birds that want to get a good start on the day. In the meantime, Sundays are no longer the only days dedicated to brunch in Buffalo anymore. Restaurants such as MTK, Hydraulic Hearth and Roost (formerly Martin Cooks – opening soon) have taken the brunch concept a step further by introducing Saturday brunches. Now that’s something that I can handle being the brunch fan that I am.