As a follow up to our previous post, almost a year ago, Bidwell on Allen street opened and is creating quite a buzz. As promised, the Brooklyn transplant duo that is Matt (chef) and Courtney (front of the house) has created a hyper-local seasonal tasting menu that truly awakens the palate.
The original concept is in place, featuring a dining experience with multiple courses, and all the ingredients sourced locally. The evening is limited to only 12 guests, allowing for the hosts to create a memorable experience for those dining on a given night. Reservations open on the first of the month and book up within 1-2 minutes typically. It took several tries to finally get in to taste the nine incredible courses we had the fortunate opportunity to experience last Thursday.
We celebrated the start of the evening with a bottle of bubbles. Our first bite was a fabulous miso broth with garlic oil. The simplicity of the presentation and a cup of miso was not a reflection of the complex flavor within the broth. I really loved the little wooden cup.
Our next bite, a bowl of perfectly crisp chips and dip. The crisps were made with Waneto potatoes (deemed best for chips) and served with a light, herbed buttermilk dip. As Bidwell explained, “the Waneta potato was introduced to me by Stuart from Braymiller Market. It was developed at Cornell University to be a “fryer” potato and it’s grown by Marquart Farms in Gainesville.”
Our third bite, a beef tartare with a perfectly fussy, crispy tart shell, a mustard seed pop, and crisp pears.
All of our initial bites were not groundbreaking new items to Buffalo, but the thought that each one was given and the dedication to sourcing the best local ingredients to make them, shined brightly.
While contemplating our next beverage selection, we were served a wonderful sourdough and house made butter. Matt indicated that he worked on perfecting the bread for a while. I suppose as many of us did during the pandemic bread making frenzy! The meal began to open up to a broader arrangement of flavors as we were served our fourth course, a maitake mushroom oatmeal dish.
The beautiful mushroom adorned a savory bowl of oats with egg yolk. Stirring the yolk into the oats made for a richness that synched nicely with the earthiness of the mushroom. At this point, I had loved everything thus far but knew we were embarking on the fun part.
Our next plate featured a piece of Hudson Valley Fish Farms steelhead trout on a bed of braised cabbage and apple puree. This dish was one that I wish I could have had more than a tasting bite, as steelhead is a personal favorite and the flavor combination was intriguing. The fish was buttery and full of umami, while the cabbage and apple added a bit of brightness.
The next dish, agnolotti with squash and ricotta was the perfect al dente pasta follow up. The pasta was made from local spelt and plated with a silky winter squash puree, ricotta and a sprinkling of crumbs that added crunch to the otherwise creamy pasta dish. The breadcrumbs were made from panko toasted in butter with a cheese from central new york called “Berleberg.”
The pasta was followed by our last savory dish of the night, a duck dish with roasted carrots and grenata pepper sauce. The duck was cooked perfectly and the sauce with the carrots buttoned up this plate.
Our final course was sweet! A brown butter pudding, or “fancy pudding” as we called it, with toasted meringue and oat crispies. It was so curiously delicious that all of us that don’t usually like sweets managed to devour it. It was a perfect late winter/early spring dessert that encourages one to indulge beyond just a bite. In fact, I may have licked the plate if it was socially acceptable at the time.
Matt was previously quoted last March as saying, “We’re excited to introduce people to different foods, sourced from smaller and reputable farms and producers that people might not know are found 40 miles away. Our meat will always be from ethical and humane farms – the integrity of the food is the driving factor. We plan on supporting the local economy year round.”
I can attest that they have succeeded. When I asked Matt about some of the ingredients, he thoughtfully responded “We try our best to source everything from New York State and the Northeast. There are always a few exceptions like salt, pepper, cooking oil, and spices. The Grenada peppers are grown here in state – by my cousin who has a greener thumb than I do! – the garlic is from Oles Family Farm in Alden, the oats are from Castle Valley Mill in Pennsylvania, and all the flour for the bread is grown and milled here in state by Farmer Ground Flour in Trumansburg.”
“The Waneta Potato was introduced to me by Stuart from Braymiller Market,” Matt told me. “It was developed at Cornell University to be a ‘fryer’ potato and it’s grown by Marquart Farms over in Gainesville. The steelhead is from Hudson Valley Fish Farms. The breadcrumbs were panko toasted in butter with a cheese from central New York called ‘Berleberg.'”
When it comes to sourcing regionally, these guys are the real deal.
The evening’s menu lists the farms associated with the ingredients on the menu as well as stating “…this is what (early) spring in Buffalo tastes like.” I love this introduction. My dining companions and I did indeed feel like we got a sampling of what is available here, and truly what it tastes like to be dedicated to the region and its bounty. Yes, even during a Buffalo winter! I found that the thoughtful menu, beverages, service, atmosphere, and perfectly appointed service ware (also locally made) created an experience worthy of the wait. The underlying education offered is also intriguing, as I would like to know more about the local products, how to source them, and implement more into my own routine as a mom, wife, chef, and caterer.
Bidwell is located at 242 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14201. Reservations are done strictly online when they open up for the month ahead. There have been some frustrations in getting reservations, understandably, but it is important to recognize that Matt and Courtney dedicate themselves completely to each and every experience shared, of which they solely create. It’s the nature of the beast. And what an amazing beast this is!
The restaurant is much more an extension of the couple’s home, rather than a public eatery to be frequented regularly. My advice is, get on the mailing list, be online ready to book the minute reservations open, and do not miss your reservation! Actually, if you can’t make it, please call me and I will go in your place. I think Bidwell is onto something here… and yes, believe the hype.
Get connected: www.bidwellbuffalo.com
Lead image: Matt and Courtney Gunther – Courtney is rocking a Yummo Ice Cream t-shirt
Plates by Peach Pit Pottery Shop in East Aurora