A recent trip to Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s new The Draft Room restaurant concept, and the Labatt Brew House, in The Cobblestone District was a real eye opener for three friends who met up to talk about the future of food in Buffalo. The Draft Room turned out to be the perfect place to meet, because when it comes to the future of food in Buffalo, this place is helping to lead the way. From the speediness of the food service to the ambiance of the restaurant, The Draft Room is quickly becoming a fan favorite for food and beer lovers. It should also be duly noted that there’s a lot more to look forward to in coming months, from a new bakery operation called Bakery 55, to a new speakeasy concept that will allow members access to a craft cocktail bar.
As for the food, here’s the lowdown from Steve Warzala (Warzy’s World):
The Draft Room reminds me of the current style the Sabres are playing with, and that is speed! Like Jack Eichel racing from end to end – you order something and it will be out before you know it. The only downside is that your food comes out before you’re able to take a sip of your beer!
One thing that I love, and that needs to be pointed out, is that there is delicious housemade hot sauce already on the table. It’s not just any hot sauce – it’s a bold flavored, medium heat chipotle hot sauce, from the mind of Chef Ron Kubiek. I am dubbing said sauce ‘Sabre Sauce’. It’s the perfect table sauce for the “Hottest team in the NHL” right now! At this point in my love affair with The Draft Room, I put it on the plate and dip almost everything into it.
Oh, and try the candied bacon strips with it. The flavor mixes perfectly with the sweetness of the bacon. Want a Game Winner for the rest of your meal? Order a side of blue cheese and mix the ‘Sabre Sauce’ into it. Dip your fries, chips… or hell, if no one’s looking, dip your fingers in it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
To date, I have tried everything on the menu at this awesome new spot. Here are a few of the highlights for me:
The pretzel, I have to say, is one of the best things on the menu. It’s baked right in the back kitchen at the moment, but eventually it will be baked in their own bakery – Bakery 55. This is not your standard game day pretzel. The mustard that it’s paired with is a true Bavarian mustard and (shocker) wins as the go-to dip, over the typically standard cheese sauce.
The meatball bomber (no photo, sorry) is loaded with meatballs and cheese. The meatballs are massive and tender. The recipe actually comes from Dom Verni’s grandmother. The only thing for me here is, I would have liked it a bit saucier. So perhaps a side of sauce should come with it?
When I think of a French bread pizza, my mind immediately goes to what I grew up eating. The out of the box Stouffer’s Pizza variety. I realize that shouldn’t be the benchmark, but I defy you to tell me they weren’t delicious back in the day. The Draft Room takes this concept to an entirely new level. Diners at my table were shocked at how great this dish was. Oh, the best part? They serve it with a side of blue cheese! How very appropriately Buffalo. I don’t know about you, but I’m a dipper!
Buffalo’s Polish contingent will be proud of the pierogis. It’s Chef Ron Kubiak’s Grandmother’s recipe, and it lives up to the expectations of anyone who had a Polish grandmother who cranked these puppies out of the kitchen. The dough is fantastic, and the crust from the griddle sear is on point. The fillings (farmer cheese, cabbage, and bacon) are money – I would have liked a few more caramelized onions on top but that’s me. They come paired with sour cream, but I don’t think its necessary, as the flavor of each one by itself is a winner! Probably the one time I will say “no need to dip.”
In another true hockey town tradition, we have the smoked meat sandwich. Indigenous to Montreal, it’s now available right here in Buffalo. The meat is juicy and tender. If you like pastrami, you’ll love this “North of the Border” French favorite.
Even though by proximity, we Buffalonians feel as if poutine is sort of a Buffalo thing, we still need to give the credit to our Canadian neighbors. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take something and go ‘Merica on it’ and make it better, eh! Behold, the Poutine Burger! Cheese curds stuffed between two patties, cooked the way you like (how a burger should be offered) then loaded with fries and gravy. The gravy has a nice peppery taste and the burger bun is fluffy – perfect complement to the salty burger. This Burger was handpicked for the menu by Terry Pegula himself!
Lastly, the dessert – the Buff-A-Dough. Two BeaverTails (Canadian donuts) – one topped with Nutella and bananas, the other sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I didn’t think they would be as incredible as they were, but queenseyes and I were fighting over the last bite! Here’s a Warzy pro tip: save a piece of bacon for the end of the meal and add it on the Nutella BeaverTail for an extra salty-meets-sweetness bite.
Ok, Buffalo. The next time that you’re looking for a laid back, quick service, delicious meal, in an incredible setting, there’s a new kid on the block who is here to stay. I am officially a believer, and can’t wait until the next two concept nodes of this operation are up and running.
Lead image: THE BEER!
“We have 24 beers on tap,” said Brian Tierney, GM of The Draft Room.
Eight are direct from the Labatt Brew House (on site). The remaining beers are either under the Labatt umbrella or from local surrounding breweries.
“We’re trying to keep the local feel as much as possible,” explained Tierney.