With the development of the Larkin District, a newly renovated Lafayette Hotel and some action actually happening on the Waterfront, there are great things happening downtown. We first heard the news of a restaurant moving into the Naval Museum back in August 2011 on Buffalo Rising, the restaurant didn’t have a name or even theme at the time but what excited everyone was the involvement of Mike Shatzel (Coles, Blue Monk). About 4 weeks ago the bar finally opened and the following day the restaurant opened their doors.
Having a dining and drinking option in that area of downtown is definitely long overdue and the fact that it’s a restaurant that has some put some serious effort put into the design, menu and beer selection is icing on the cake. We decided on a whim to try the place out on a Sunday afternoon, we had pretty high expectations (considering our love of Blue Monk) but walked away very satisfied.
- Restaurant Type: Casual, Bar
- Prices: Appetizers $5-12, Entrees $8-20
- Cuisine: Gastropub, Seafood
- Location: Downtown Waterfront
The location itself shares the same building as the Naval Museum. Sharing this building is unique and provides a lot of cool things to look at while standing around, unfortunately that it means there isn’t a lot of waiting room and sometimes crowds of tourists (from Canada?) to navigate through. The other major dilemma for the restaurant is parking. We ended up parking underneath the skyway but this area could really benefit from a more structured parking situation. On this particular Sunday it was gorgeous outside and the wait for a table was 45 minutes (the restaurant is on the smaller side), but luckily we grabbed a pair of seats at the bar that had just opened up. (Note: they serve food at the bar as well as the cocktail tables out on the patio…and they are first come, first serve…so if you don’t want to wait for a table, try to grab one.)
The beer menu might not be as long as Coles or Blue Monk, but I still counted 12 taps that were all serving local-ish beers from across New York State. I ordered myself a Blueberry Wheat from EBC (served with blueberries). The only problem with their beer selection is the price. I never got an itemized bar tab, but I noticed that every beer that was being ordered was in the $6-8 range. I don’t mind paying those prices for rare Belgian brews at Blue Monk, but not for a fairly common micro-brew. Those premium prices can maybe be justified when your standing on their large patio on a warm summer night over looking the water and in the shadows of large naval ships, but I was still a bit annoyed.
In a rare move, Alli and I didn’t do a lot of pre-meal menu studying before we took the short drive down. Liberty Hound’s menu is broken up into four groups: Shared Plates (appetizers), Farmers Market (salads), Hand-Held (burgers,tacos) and Entrees. Since seafood has such a large presence on their menu, Alli and I decided to stick to that theme and order 3 dishes from different groups. We started our meal off with the Sauteed Little Necks ($12 pictured above, bottom), a large bowl of clams and pieces of chorizo in a broth with green onion, tomato chunks and onions. Alli and I haven’t eaten too many clams in our tenure at Buffalo Eats, but the smell coming off the bowl was so good that we didn’t hesitate devouring the entire thing. In retrospect I would have ordered additional sides of bread to enjoy the broth to the very last drop. The chorizo gave the dish some heat but nothing overpowering.
For our main courses Alli ordered the Fish and Chips ($12, pictured in gallery) that included large strips of beer battered Cod. The french fries weren’t anything special (cough.. bring over the duck fries.. cough) but she enjoyed the fish. The batter was light and fluffy while still having tender, flake-y bites of fish underneath. After changing my mind at the last minute, I decided to order the Fish Tacos ($11; pictured above top) due to the overwhelming positive comments on foursquare. The order comes with two tacos that are loaded with grilled shrimp (you can also choose ‘fish’), cheese, pico de gallo, some slaw and a really flavorful tomatillo sauce on double layered corn tortillas. The shrimp, sauce and cheese were simply fantastic together and I was extremely satisfied. If I wasn’t so curious about their Lobster Roll, I wouldn’t hesitate to make this my go to order every time we ate at there.
We left the restaurant very full and happy that Liberty Hound was not only just providing Buffalo-ians another downtown attraction but actually serving good beer and food at the same time. Considering the amount of attention this area will be getting with Thursday at the Harbor and crowds walking along the water, I imagine it being continually busy for most of the summer. Over priced beer and lame parking situations are small annoyances but nothing that should stop you from visiting. After the meal, Alli and I walked to our car and we both thought about the turn around this area of Buffalo has had in the last 12 months and wondered what it would be like in another 3+ years. I’m hoping for more good food and enough attractions to warrant a visit year round.