Ellicottville Brewing Company will always have a soft spot in my heart, specifically their loaded pulled pork cheese fries. In 2008, Alli and I drove down for a day trip and hit up the brewpub for a nice lunch, something that we did quite often when we lived in Orchard Park. On this particular trip however, I decided to bring my digital camera and thought I’d try to take pictures of our meal. We had never done this before but I was just starting to read other food blogs and loved the idea. When I pulled out my camera, turned on the flash (I know) and snapped a picture of my loaded fries, the entire dining room looked at me like I was crazy. Alli was embarrassed and wondered why I cared. That (admittedly terrible) picture was the start of Buffalo Eats.
That was over five years ago, and both our food pictures and Ellicottville Brewing Company have come a long way. Back in 2008, the dining room was small and on most occasions you could barely maneuver through the restaurant/bar. I knew about the renovations that were going on at EBC but for one reason or another, I never made it down to see the change first hand.
I was stunned when we walked into the restaurant a couple weeks ago, the brewery has expanded into the building next door and they have created a beer garden, additional seating and banquet space (there was a wedding taking place upstairs on our visit) and a large open bar. There is wood everywhere, the place definitely has the ‘ski lodge’ vibe and we spotted several fireplaces. The newly added open bar had several tall tables where you could grab a couple pints and wait for your table. Fun side note: they use an app that will tell you exactly how many people are in front of you on the wait list and will notify you when your table is ready.
- Restaurant Type: Brewpub
- Cuisine: Pub Food
- Location: Ellicottville
After waiting for our table to become available, we were seated in the crowded dining room. The bar/restaurant was extremely busy on the weekend night and tracking down our server was tricky. This particular night we were eating with Alli’s entire family, which meant that there would be a lot appetizers and sharing. We went a little overboard with our order, at one point the entire table had too many plates and we needed to eat quickly to make room.
Alli’s parents had recently eaten at EBC and made some recommendations, so we started with the Artichoke Bella Roma (dip), Beer Cheese & Sausage, Loaded Brewer’s Fries and Bavarian Soft Pretzels. The dip was just alright, it didn’t have a very strong artichoke flavor but was very creamy and the chips were fresh and warm. The sausage plate came with a side of beer cheese dipping sauce and was maybe my favorite dish of the night. I can’t think of anything better then sausage and cheese to pair with nice craft beer, I’d easily order it again. The beer cheese dipping was quite good and the sausage was juicy with a nice crisp outer casing.
The pretzels were also very good. They were fresh and warm with a perfect chewy interior and also paired very well with a couple beers. A good salt to butter ratio on the outside didn’t hurt either. The loaded fries weren’t as great as we remembered, sadly. I forgot that adding pulled pork and a thick layer of cheese to fries creates a giant pile of grease. If you don’t eat them quickly, the cheese solidifies and you are left with a cold hard mess.
For our entrees, Alli decided to order their Tomato Bisque & Grilled Cheese Croutons and I ordered the English Pub Burger. Alli ordered the bisque because it sounded interesting; the reality was less exciting. The ‘cheese croutons’ turned out to be a grilled cheese sandwich that was essentially cut into quarters. The bowl was gigantic and could have served three people, unfortunately this meant that the croutons just got really soggy while Alli tried to make her way through the dish. My burger also was a bummer. Our server asked how I’d like the burger cooked (medium rare) but it still came out near well done. Even though the actual meat wasn’t anything special, the brioche roll, cheddar cheese and horseradish bleu cheese were tasty additions.
In my opinion, the food shouldn’t be the main reason to take a 45+ minute drive to Ellicottville and hang out at the brewery. The gorgeous interior, their limited edition seasonal releases on tap (the “Just the Tip” was fantastic) and their new beer garden are the real draws. The food isn’t horrible, some of the dishes pair nicely with a couple beers (get the sausage and the pretzels), but it’s not the star of the show. A day trip to Ellicottville during the winter is always nice and if you find yourself in the area I suggest stopping by, even if it’s just for a pint or two.