Brunching at 100 Acres – The Kitchens at Hotel Henry is like being on vacation. The entire Richardson-Olmsted Campus has elevated the Buffalo experience in a radical way. As if virtually overnight, this city has become home to one of the finest resort hotel adventures imaginable. A recent visit to 100 Acres for brunch was an inspirational eye opener, and one that I’m still trying to process. There’s nothing like this place anywhere. I’m not just talking about Buffalo…, I’m talking about anywhere in the world. It’s completely unique to Buffalo in so many ways.
A friend of mine and I stopped in for brunch yesterday around noon. We ended up staying for four hours. There was so much to see and do, eat and drink, learn, photograph, and explore. The first item of order was to get a drink at the bar.
The bar staff was super accommodating, which heightened the entire experience. After taking our first sips, instead of simply heading off to one of the dining rooms, we chatted with the bar staff and then took ourselves on a self guided tour of the building, Bloody Marys in hand.
One of the best parts about the hotel experience is the array of places where one can gather with friends, to eat, drink or simply talk. There are dining tables in the grand hall, seating arrangements in pocket corners, comfy chairs and couches, bar stools, patio settings… you name it and they have it.
There’s also music piping from room to room, which makes a visit an audible experience as well (the bar staff controls the tunes). Another impressive feature is the amount of natural sunlight that floods the buildings – one might think that it would be dark and gloomy, but it’s the exact opposite. It’s super bright and cheerful.
As for the architectural elements, so much is intact and cleverly updated. The hallways are mammoth. The ceilings go on forever. The carpeting dampens the sound in the hallways, offering peace and quiet – there are marvelous topographical wave-like patterns upon which to walk.
During our visit, we literally got lost twice – the place is that enormous. We got lost once, trying to find the gym (equipment is not in yet), and then we lost our way a second time trying to find the ballroom (dramatic event space).
But we had fun the entire time, aimlessly walking into swank lounges, hidden bar rooms, sprawling patios, and even a guest room or two.
By the time we finished with the tour, we were hungry. So we headed back to the bar, where attentive barkeeps awaited our arrival. We soon had drinks in hand once again, while sitting and perusing the menu.
Restaurant manager and beverage director Adam Lauer (came to 100 Acres from The Grange) told us about the evolution of the bar program. He stressed that due to customer demand, they don’t really carry “well spirits”.
Rather, they like to highlight the back bar as a higher end experience, without the pompous nature that one might assume would come with it. The limited “well drinks” that they do offer are not your average spirits. For example, the “well vodka” of choice is a brand called Helix. Lauer said that everything is special, including the local favorites – Lockhouse and Tommyrotter. He wants his bar patrons to be educated about the selection of spirits, because he feels that the entire hotel experience is elevated in a similar way.
I found an unusual tequila, and a special mezcal, that were both absolutely exquisite. My companion opted for a Japanese whisky that he was not familiar with. The surprises continued to come from all directions.
As for the brunch scene, Lauer and his crew wanted the atmosphere to be “playful”. The music is entertaining and uplifting, just like the twists on food. For example, instead of chicken and waffles, they offer ribs and waffles in a Buffalo style sauce. My friend and I didn’t try the dish, but we did order the avocado flatbread, the poached eggs, and a side of bacon.
After another Bloody Mary and a cup of coffee, we were in heaven. I feel bad that we didn’t get a chance to try any of the house made pastries, muffins, etc, but one can only consume so much, even at brunch. The muffins will have to wait for a return trip (the sooner the better, I say).
My buddy commented that one of his favorite things about the hotel was seeing all of the green space through the windows. The building sits on a spectacular Olmsted campus, alongside Buffalo State. I understand that the hotel is talking about striking up an internship program with the school’s Hospitality and Tourism Department, which would be another win for the city.
From cool and funky glassware, to a fun-loving staff that clearly enjoys what they are doing, I can’t say enough about this resort. I literally did not want to go home. But I’m going back for dinner on Tuesday, so I won’t have to miss it too much.
Don’t forget, that Tuesday is National Yo-Yo Day, and Buffalo is currently home to a renowned Yo-Yo champion, Christian Lee. Lee will be at the hotel conducting Yo-Yo demonstrations as part of the celebration, which should be pretty neat.