Ulrich’s Tavern has been around since 1868. In that time, it has been a mainstay restaurant, serving up traditional German fare. It was only recently that a new chef has made an appearance at Ulrich’s, who has already begun to mix things up. I’m not saying that there will no longer be traditional German food offerings, but there will be some seriously interesting non-German twists, which are already making some appearances on the menu.
I first experienced Brandon Bolden’s cooking at The Greystone. That was where he got me hooked on his fabulous brunches. When the establishment closed, I wondered where Brandon had ended up, because I was smitten with a number of his offerings. At first, I was surprised that Brandon ended up at Ulrich’s, because I felt that the German menu would suppress his creativity in the kitchen. When I questioned his decision, he said that he was being given pretty much free reign to alter the menu, as executive chef. He said that he was planning on keeping a few of the German favorites, but at the same time he was planning on adding several of his own concoctions to the menu.
Once I was certain that there was an inventive chef at the helm, I decided to take the menu for a spin. My friend, Dawn Madden, who is a vegetarian, accompanied me. A vegetarian at Ulrich’s? Yes, that’s the way Ulrich’s is rolling these days – they want to create a diverse menu, where everyone feels welcome – hence the flatbread pizzas, the veggie egg rolls, and the veggie burger.
When it came to ordering my lunch, Brandon did not give me an option. He basically told me that I had to try The Branwich, which he named after himself. “It’s my favorite sandwich to make, and to eat,” he told me. When broken down, the Branwich is a pairing of minced cilantro and bacon, mixed into cornbread waffles, served open face, and topped with slow cooked brown sugar pulled pork, with mango blueberry coleslaw, and served with a side of syrup. The sandwich is Brandon’s take on chicken and waffles, and I can tell you right now that it’s better than any chicken and waffles that you ever had. It’s delicious. And decadent. It’s a whirlwind of flavors that melt in your mouth. Personally, I have never tasted anything quite like it. “I wanted to create something that was completely different,” said Brandon. “I think I pulled it off.”
Along the lines of the Branwich, there’s also the Bad Ass layered hamburger, with bacon, poached egg, corned beef, and Swiss cheese (add kraut $1). Then there are some more traditional Buffalo favorites like the Beef on Weck, the pastrami sandwich, and the open meatloaf. Of course, it wouldn’t be Ulrich’s without the schnitzel, the bratwurst, and the smoked polish sausage, all of which pay tribute to the German heritage of the establishment. But over the years, the owner of the place, Sal Buscaglia, has been adding his own twists to the menu, by incorporating some of his own Italian flavors into the mix. Not only are there mouth watering mussels in a garlic and white wine butter sauce, Sal also makes his own family sauce for menu items such as the chicken parmesan dinner. All of these other menu items would have to wait, however, as I was concentrating on finishing the Branwich.
As I ate my meal, Dawn went to town on a veggie flatbread pizza. The idea of a veggie flatbread pizza at Ulrich’s threw me for a loop. It was the last thing that I expected to find on the menu. “That’s why it’s there,” said Brandon, who was extremely proud that he had been given access to the override button, which allowed him to go hog wild with his creations (or hogless wild if you prefer). Dawn was over the moon with her flatbread pizza. She told me that Ulrich’s was not a place that she would normally consider for lunch, because she felt that there were no real vegetarian options. Well, that has thankfully changed, because there are a lot of non-meat eaters out there who want to check these type of places out, but who normally don’t because they will be left ordering from the list of salads and soups.
“The vegetable flatbread was amazing to say the least,” Dawn stated. “Not at any point, did any flavor overpower another one. The vegetables were freshly cut – they were sautéed and then baked for just enough time to make the crust have a beautiful crunch to it.”
As times change, Ulrich’s is making sure that it is staying current with its offerings. From a large selection of craft beers, to a bread pudding dessert that is “to die for” – there’s even a kid’s menu and a karaoke night – Ulrich’s is now staying ahead of the curve, thanks to a dynamic new chef in the kitchen.