When I first read Step Out Buffalo’s glowing review of Winfield’s Pub, I was skeptical. Sure we love pub food just as much as anyone else, but how great can pub food in Lackawanna be? Soon after, we started to see some of our foodie friends start to mention Winfield’s food and we began to hear very good things about Chef/Owner Tab Daulton (formerly the Executive Chef of First Niagara Center). We finally decided to make a visit and found out that Andrew Galarneau posted a mostly positive review and gave this neighborhood restaurant seven plates. We no longer were just walking into another pub and expecting cheap food that was taken out of a bag and put in a deep fryer, we were expecting something special.
The exterior of the restaurant doesn’t scream gastropub. It’s on a quiet section of Ridge Road, there’s a small sign that’s easy to miss and a large neon Bud Light sign is prominently displayed in the window. However, once you walk into the restaurant and grab a menu, you’ll notice they are doing something different. The design of the bar and dining room look familiar to anyone who’s visited a neighborhood dive bar but with some small but smart upgrades. The bar has new, comfortable bar stools and the lighting fixtures have been updated. Once you study the food menu, you’ll notice items like Duck Poutine, a Lamb Burger and Quinoa Crusted Cod. The drink menu is even more impressive; they have craft cocktails (the best we’ve seen outside of the city, more on that later) and a small but carefully selected craft beer list (just bottles/cans).
We started with our meal with Grilled Cheese Bites ($8). The housemade bread was baked with a small amount of jalapenos and in between was a good amount of cheese and thick pieces of bacon. The bites were tasty but almost too crunchy, making them a little difficult to eat but not impossible. We also ordered their Duck Poutine ($8) and were shocked at the giant portion that was placed on the table. On top of well cooked, freshly cut fries was a good amount of duck meat, duck gravy and goat cheese. The duck gravy definitely had a rich taste that I’ve never had before in a local poutine. It was also poured at just the right ratio to prevent the fries from becoming a soggy mess. The duck meat was tender and the use of goat cheese instead of cheese curds was genius, the texture and sour kick was a perfect contrast to the rich, salty fries.
For our main course we ordered the Chicken Pot Pie ($13.5) and the Winfield Cheeseburger ($10). I substituted the regular fries with my burger for the ‘Hop Fries’, fresh cut fries that were tossed in ground up hops. My one main complaint of the entire meal had to do with the burger. The actual beef was a little bland and over cooked. The toasted roll, tomato jam, pickles and red onions offered a little extra flavor but I was a bit disappointed. That said, Alli really enjoyed her Chicken Pot Pie ($15) which was stuffed with chicken, carrots, peas and onions and a very creamy and rich gravy. The pastry topping was golden brown and flaky. It was a perfect dish for a slightly chilly evening.
We also sampled a couple cocktails on our visit. I’m not a cocktail expert but we really like what Winfield’s is doing behind the bar. Lizz Schumer IS an expert and she also really liked their cocktails. After overhearing head bartender Thomas Daulton talking to other customers, I realized Winfield’s is taking their cocktail menu seriously. They are making their own bitters and their own syrups and really putting a lot of thought and creativity into each drink. I ordered the Phosphene Dream, a drink that wasn’t on the menu but mentioned on facebook. It’s made with Fernet Branca, Cranberry Vodka, cider and lime. It sounds weird just typing all of that out but it was really delicious, something I can’t say about most Fernet cocktails that I’ve tried in the past. Even though our interaction with Thomas was brief, we could tell how enthusiastic he was about the cocktail menu and we are really excited to see what he comes up with next.
It’s really exciting to see restaurants outside of the city trying something new. No, the food and drinks at Winfield’s Pub aren’t breaking new ground in the culinary world. But when you look at the restaurant scene in Lackawanna, an addition like Winfield’s Pub is a great thing. We said it before with Black Iron Bystro, but there is plenty of room in the burbs (both North and South) for people to take a down to earth approach with their restaurants and still put out a tasty, unique product.