Today’s post is written by guest blogger Alexandra Farrington, we hope to post more articles from her in the future! Thanks Alex!
For months the rumors surrounding Remington Tavern have been flying. As a big fan of both Chefs behind the restaurant, Mark Hutchinson and Paul Jenkins, as well as a big fan of oysters, it was one of the local restaurant happenings that I have been most looking forward to. Through the spring and early summer I waited, eagerly. Then, to my surprise, Remington Tavern opened on a random Wednesday mid-July without any fanfare or announcement. I grabbed my favorite dinner companion, Adam (a local chef) and we took the short drive up Delaware Ave. for dinner.
- Restaurant Type: Casual Fine Dining, Modern Industrial Dining
- Cuisine: Fine Dining, Seafood
- Location: North Tonawanda
- Price: Cocktails $6-10, Appetizers $8-14, Entrees $11-26
The tavern is unassuming from the outside, a theme I found throughout the night, but walking in, the grandness of the space is seriously impressive. The entire space is open: lofty ceilings, marble topped horseshoe bar, and long red leather banquets. Even with all the “big-ness” Remington Tavern still feels inviting, an industrial elegance I’d call it. There are sleek duel fireplaces to warm it up on cold-nights, the tabletops are stainless steel, and the red-bordered cloth napkins give a nod to New England seafood joints. An old coal shoot has been turned into an awesome light fixture over the bar, the hardwood floors are oiled, not sealed, for easy clean up and no slipping. Every detail has been carefully thought out. The vibe is great.
The wine and beer menus have fantastic choices at every price point and a great variety of draft and bottled beers. We opted for the Cave Spring Dry Riesling to go with the expansive tasting menu we ended up lining up for ourselves. We were told that this will be the only menu that will stay consistent, as all the others change frequently, if not daily. I love restaurants that do this, and with Remington being so new they aren’t held to anyone’s expectations or “favorites” so they can take risks.
It was hard to choose what to order, as I didn’t have a chance to look at their menu beforehand, but I doubt I could’ve made a bad decision. We started with the Hush Puppies (above) and the Bahamian Conch Chowder. Both of these dishes are very important to me; the former because I spent several years living in the south, and the latter because I spent several more years living in the Bahamas. The puppies were great. If you’ve never had a hush puppy, as our server assumed we had not, I’ll describe them as fried pillows of corn goodness. She described them as cornballs, fried, rolled in Cajun salt and served with cane syrup. They arrived, steaming hot, perfectly crispy on the outside, moist, but not gummy, on the inside. The Cajun salt brought them to another level, and I was definitely guilty of double dipping on the cane syrup. Adam described them as “chef food,” plain and simple deliciousness.
My chowder arrived in a huge teacup, and immediately I breathed a sigh of relief. It had that burnt red color of the traditional conch chowder that I know and love, and smelled just like it should. The conch was tender, but was cut big enough to get a nice bite of it. The vegetables were diced small enough to get a good mix on your spoon along with the perfectly seasoned broth. Yes, broth. This is not thick, creamy, chowder; its Bahamian. In talking with Adam after our dishes had been taken, I commented that the soup was perfect, “it was even served with the obligatory Saltine crackers.” We pondered on it a minute, that it might seem odd in such a restaurant, serving crackers with soup, instead of a baguette or fancier carbs, but all Bahamian conch chowder is served with Saltines. It’s a small thing, but worth mentioning. I could talk for days about that chowder.
Next we ordered from the raw bar. They have a guy shucking right there for you to watch if you so choose- which is fantastic in my opinion. That night there was three types of oysters on the menu ranging from the light, clean, and super salty Wellfleets, to the more mild Cape Cods, to the meaty and briny Nova Scotias. If you’re not up on your oyster regions, ask your server, ours seemed really knowledgeable. We got the variety dish (top), which was served up on a bed of crushed ice with lemon wedges, mignonette, and cocktail sauce with fresh grated horseradish.
Our entrees came out steaming and ridiculously beautiful. Adam’s Fish and Shellfish Stew (gallery) was loaded with clams, shrimp, cod, and local andouille sausage. Each bite was cooked perfectly, and the stock was rich, and herbaceous. It was served with crispy focaccia-type bread that was perfect for mopping everything up. We asked for a spoon to finish up the stock, as Adam had too much decorum to pick up the bowl and slurp it up, a trait I forgot in finishing the conch chowder.
I ordered the Blackened Red Fish (above). There were a lot of components to this dish, each one executed perfectly. The local green beans and red peppers were cooked simply, al dente. The potatoes and corn were slightly charred, the potatoes almost creamy and the corn still a bit crunchy and super sweet. The fish was prepared in a classic New Orleans style: blackened, and as I say “on the half shell” (filleted with the skin still on). The heat of the blackening seasoning was perfect with the sweetness of the veggies, and the Pablano butter brought each bite together and packed some serious flavor. Plus, I got two bonus blackened shrimp on top!
By this point we were mostly full, and our bottle of wine was gone, but we ordered dessert anyway. The menu was very tempting and impressive. We decided to split the Local Blueberry and Gin Sundae (gallery). How could I say no to a huge scoop of homemade vanilla bean gelato atop crunchy crushed amaretti cookies, with a copious amount of blueberry gin sauce and even more blueberries piled on? As a recently converted gin fan I was curious about the sauce, but it was fantastic. If I hadn’t known there was gin in it, I couldn’t have guessed, but it was that extra something that made it special.
With my belly full, I got the biggest treat of my night: a tour of the place with Hutch and Jenkins. Hutch showed us his incredible toys in the kitchen, and Jenkins gave us the complete history of the building. I didn’t get to meet Jeff Kolbas, the local head chef hired on by Hutch and Jenkins, but I’ve seen him at the farmer’s market picking up flats of this and that for the restaurant. Jenkins called him “a rock star,” in the Buffalo News article about the building’s development, and based on the menu, I’m very inclined to agree. Everything together: the food, the atmosphere, the canal, the growing neighborhood, the staff (I recognized several faces from both Tempo and Hutch’s), and some complete dynamos in the kitchen? Remington Tavern is a winner, hands down.
Final Notes: Remington Tavern is only open for dinner and currently does not accept reservations for parties under 8.