If you’re familiar with with the original Eckl’s Restaurant, which has existed in Orchard Park for 85 years, then you might think that you know something about the new Eckl’s in Larkinville. Truth be told, that’s probably not the case, because the brand new, supersized Eckl’s is a far cry from its OP namesake. The Larkinville version is posh, and dare I say elegant, which is a far cry from its somewhat homey and casual roots.
Saturday evening my wife and I stopped in to have a drink at the Eckl’s bar, and were quite impressed with what we found. The main entranceway off Seneca Street was unexpectedly chic, with brilliant branding that was reminiscent of what might have been found at a club in Buffalo’s heyday.
In certain cases, the lavish look might have seemed a bit overdone, but in this instance, it really worked. That’s because there are relatively few places in Buffalo that are ‘over the top’ when it comes to design, so when we run across them, they are actually welcome surprises.
I had heard that Eckl’s occupied a large footprint within the Larkin Center of Commerce, but I was not aware of the full extent of the floor plan. The place is big… really big. But once again, it works. Upon walking in, there was a sprawling dining room that was not being used at that particular moment.
Talking to the bartender, we learned that the first lunch service was scheduled for this coming Monday, so we figured that the dining room would come alive during that point in time.
The bar area was just as expansive as the dining areas. Although we don’t belong to any clubs, we could appreciate the club-like nature of the bar and restaurant. The bartenders and wait staff were all wearing black button down shirts, which presented a professional uniformity.
Someone paid great attention to aesthetic detail here. No stone was left unturned when it came to tying everything together. From the lustrous bar foot rails to the shiny copper bar top braces, the look was complete. Even the ceiling boasted a modern take on traditional tin tiles, which looked great. The tree silhouettes (dividing the dining room and the bar) were also a nice touch. The lighting was sensational all around, and the Sinatra-esque music was on par with the opulent surroundings.
In the far dining room (the one that was operational), we noticed that there was a raw bar that would soon be running, as well as a dedicated glass-enclosed carving station, where Eckl’s will be serving up its famous beef on weck sandwiches.
One of the things that really sets this place apart from anywhere else is its mix of dark, club-like assets, with walls of garage windows that can open up to Larkin Square with a push of a button. In the winter season, there will be a coziness about it, and in the summer there will be a fresh outdoorsy type of feel.
The ‘attitude’ of the restaurant was conceived by me,’ said owner Jim Cornell, when explaining how the concept came together. ‘And the design and interior textures were a collaboration between me and Interior Designer Beth Zulinke-Dames of Orchard Park. Her sense of color, fabrics and textures is a great gift and was an essential and integral part of the project. If I was to name all of the project management staff and subcontractors that made it all happen, it would be a list 100 people long. Suffice it to say all have been part of a cadre of skilled tradesmen and women that invested themselves personally in the successful outcome of the buildout. Now, our Chef Andrew Marino and General Manager Amy LaFond are working to ensure our menu and service are equally well presented and received. By all reports, they are accomplishing that every day.
There are even built-in bar rails that sit atop the patio-like gates that surround the perimeter of the building. Someone was certainly thinking when they built out the interior. I can’t wait to go back on an 80 degrees day/evening.
Not since The Parklane have we seen something of this nature in Buffalo… and to think that it’s in Larkinville. And that’s another part of the overall appeal. I believe that there are still some people who aren’t fans of heading into downtown Buffalo. For those people, Larkinville offers something that still says “city” or “downtown” without actually being downtown. It’s almost like a stepping stone for people who want to explore the city, but are looking to ease their way into the scene.
Even the menu speaks to this dynamic. It’s approachable, while also being akin to a fine dining steakhouse. From a BYOB (build your own burger) to osso buco, jeans/button down to a fine suit, a Jeep to Jaguar, Eckl’s is all about accommodating everyone. What I also like about Eckl’s is the vantage point when standing at the corner of Seneca and Van Rensselaer (see lead image). It’s the closest building that we have to something that would resemble a Flat Iron building. It’s super impressive to stand at the corner, and imagine Buffalo back in its industrial heyday. I believe that the owner of Eckl’s, Jim Cornell, understands this, and appreciates the genuine set of circumstances that was afforded to him when creating this delightful setting.
Eckl’s @ Larkin | 703 Seneca Street | Buffalo NY | (716) 856-0810 | Facebook