1375 Delaware Ave. - Near Gates Circle - 716.885.0074 - Open Nightly for Dinner at 5pm
The Buffalo News
Hutch's: Small kitchen turns out meals with big taste
By: Janice Okun, News Restaurant Reviewer
August 20, 2010
Hutch's may well be the ultimate urban restaurant. It attracts a city crowd and a knowing one. Yet even though it’s located on Delaware Avenue just north of Gates Circle it sports a shaded patio that somehow manages to feel secluded. Inside, it tends to be noisy. There are two small dining rooms and one large brick walled one — this last functioning, also, as a bar.
The restaurant kitchen, which you can just see behind the pass-through, may well be the smallest in the area.
But size really doesn’t seem to matter here. Hutch’s menu is varied; the food is great.
The Companion’s Shrimp and Lobster Bisque ($8.50) is an example. A good start to a substantial meal, it came in a big soup bowl just full of robust flavor, the assertive taste of the seafood well complemented by the creamy tomato base.
And then there was the crisp Soft Shell Crab under Small Plates ($11.95), nicely accompanied by pico de gallo salsa and some remoulade sauce — not just any remoulade sauce, either. This one was served, according to the menu, Cajun style. (Read “spicy.” And all the better for that, too.)
But then even the simplest sounding dishes on this small plate menu seem to have a slightly different twist to them. The Caprese Salad ($13.50) adds shrimp and grilled sopressata to the expected ingredients of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The Homegrown Tomato Salad ($9.50), in contrast, adds ricotta salada and red onion.
Those last two items are daily specials, but the Eggplant Napoleon ($10.50) is pretty much always on the menu. It’s a tower’s worth of fried eggplant, that house-made mozzarella, tomato and prosciutto.
And I don’t know if the Lobster Club Sandwich ($22.50) really classifies as a “small plate,” but it’s well worth your consideration anyway. (I’ll take a North Atlantic lobster tail to boring old turkey any day.)
Also please note the Roasted Beet Salad ($10.50) if it’s on the menu. It comes with walnuts and crumbled blue cheese.
They weren’t kidding when they called the other part of the menu “Large Plates.” The companion’s Bistro Steak ($25.95) is a 9- ounce filet atop a grilled Portobello with Maytag blue cheese and a wine sauce — there were garlic mashed potatoes on that plate, too.
My Wild Sockeye Salmon ($28.50) on the specials list had a definite sugar-spice flavor — a nice contrast to the Thai cucumber noodles and ahuge (of course) prawn wonton.
Other Large Plates? Grilled Calves Liver ($17.50) with caramelized onions and Pommery mustard sauce and Veal Chop Saltimbocca stuffed with prosciutto and sage ($36.95 but then it’s a 12-ounce chop).
The Lamb Chops ($32.95) are not exactly for the peckish either. They were served at a nearby table and they were more than double — I swear they were triple chops. (The guy — skinny — ate every bit.)
FYI: The Steak Frites ($34.95) is based on an 18-ounce ribeye and it’s served with black truffle butter.
Among notable desserts, please note the Blueberry Crisp, served with a satisfying oatmeal/ brown sugar topping in a soup bowl just a little smaller than the bisque soup bowl and with vanilla ice cream on the side.•
WHERE: 1375 Delaware Ave. (885-0074, www.hutchsrestaurant.com)
FAVORITE DISH: Shrimp and Lobster Bisque
NEEDS WORK: Dishes are of excellent quality.
PRICE RANGE: Small plates from $9.50. Large plates from $13.50. (Most large plates $20 and up.)
SERVICE: Very good. HOURS: 5 to 10 p. m. Monday through Thursday; 5 p. m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 4 to 9 p. m. Sunday.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: In the back of the building, at the gas station on the corner or on the street.
RATINGS: Stars reflect the overall dining experience at the time of The News’ visit — including service, ambience, innovation and cost — with greatest weight given to quality of the food.
The New York Times
By BARBARA IRELAND
PROSPERING where East Coast canal boats and railroads met Great Lakes cargo, Buffalo was a rich city around 1900, a time when a dynamic group of innovators was transforming American architecture. Wealth and vision came together in major works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, and more — arrayed amid blocks of Victorian houses and lavish mansions. When industry collapsed, a shaken and considerably poorer Buffalo slowly realized it had a legacy. Now Buffalonians are working to preserve their architectural collection and are eager to show it off. The time to visit is summer, when Buffalo gets a glorious payback for its snowy winters with some of the best weather in the nation — three months of mostly sunny, dry days with temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's.
1) On the Waterfront
Join joggers and sailors at Erie Basin Marina (329 Erie Street), a popular park. Climb the small observation tower for a picturesque 360-degree view of grain elevators (a Buffalo invention) on the placid Buffalo River, an 1833 lighthouse, and the final expanse of Lake Erie as it narrows to become the Niagara River. The trees a couple of miles across the water are in Canada — British troops came across to burn Buffalo to the ground in the War of 1812, but all is now forgiven. To the north, the current picks up on the way to Niagara Falls, 15 miles downstream.
2) The Mansion District
Drive north on Delaware Avenue, where one landmark, a towering red sandstone church at the corner of West Tupper Street, is being restored by Ani DiFranco to become the headquarters of her Righteous Babe Records. At another, the Greek-revival Wilcox Mansion (641 Delaware Avenue), Theodore Roosevelt took the presidential oath in 1901 after an anarchist ruined Buffalo's much-vaunted Pan American Exposition by assassinating William McKinley on the exposition's grounds. Dozens of grand mansions remain on this avenue, but others fell to 20th-century ideas of progress. When the elegant Metcalfe House was demolished in 1980, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired part of its Stanford White-designed interior and reassembled it in New York. Delaware Avenue got a parking lot.
Relax over dinner at Hutch's (1375 Delaware Avenue, 716-885-0074), a cozy bistro that draws a cheerful crowd. The oysters with mignonette sauce ($12) are cool and crisp, and seafood is a strong contender for the entree, too: specials one recent Friday included a crisply sauteed soft-shell crab and thick, meaty tuna in a sesame-seed crust (both $24.95). Linger for berries and whipped cream in an almond cookie cup ($5.95).
Three for Three
Our readers once again choose Hutch's as the region’s best restaurant.
By G. Scott Thomas
Our readers' love affair with Hutch's is still going strong after three years. They once again have selected the eatery near Buffalo’s Gates Circle as the best restaurant in all of Western New York – just as they did in 2005 and 2004.
A total of 336 stouthearted readers waded though our 39-question survey, picking their favorite restaurants in dozens of categories, encompassing a wide range of specialties, cuisines, and locations.
Hutch's emerges as the clear choice for overall food quality, followed by the Left Bank, which also ranked second a year ago. Rounding out 2006’s Ton Ten are Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Buffalo Chophouse, Lombardo, Rue Franklin, Oliver's, Curly's, Daniel's, and Chef's.
The only newcomer to this elite list is Curly's in eighth place. It replaces E.B. Green's, which slipped out of the Top Ten - though not by much - to rank 11th this year.
Survey participants praised Hutch's for maintaining high standards in both the kitchen and the dining room. "The food is superb, the location is great, and the service is terrific," a Buffalo reader gushed. "No matter when we visit, we have never had a bad experience," added a Lockport respondent.
Men and women differ slightly in their rankings. Male readers give Hutch's a solid lead over all competitors, while women put the Left Bank slightly ahead. "It's a wonderful atmosphere, especially dining on the patio in the summer," wrote one Left Bank fan.
The following pages provide details on the Tom Ten restaurants, as well as the winners in 38 categories. The three highest votegetters in each category receive gold, silver, and bronze distinctions, respectively.
By Marla Baykan
Between smart advertising and expert service night after night, Hutch’s is—and I believe will remain—one of the most well known and loved restaurants in Buffalo. When people come into town, you take them to Hutch’s. It’s our city crowd, our city restaurant.
Owner Mark Hutchinson acquired his know-how in Henry Gorino’s kitchen at Oliver’s. He has since built his reputation as a successful chef and restaurateur in his 12 years at Hutch’s, and he remains the guiding force behind his namesake restaurant. You’ll see him in the kitchen three or four nights a week, and the other nights talking with folks at the bar. A couple of years ago, Hutchinson and Paul Jenkins developed Tempo, a restaurant for those in search of high end Italian cuisine.
The bar at Hutch’s is a hip combination of sport legacy and city finesse. There are high ceilings, exposed brick and a large wooden bar, shelves bursting with fine scotches, wines and pretty much any liquor you may want for that before- or after-dinner drink. Half and full bottles of red, white or sparkling—Hutch’s offers it all. The wine list abounds with Californians, which pair well with the American bistro cuisine, but you can also find a good range of imported wines. Since we are not going to tackle a bottle this evening, I choose a glass of Zaca Mesa viognier and my friend orders an Estancia pinot noir from the 12 wines that are offered by the glass. Both are reasonably priced and of great taste and quality.
We are seated in a pleasing corner table in the front room. Exposed brick is a major feature of the restaurant as a whole. The mirror next to us expands the room, and leopard skin carpet, soft green walls and perfect lighting set the tone of the space. The open kitchen, like the hearth in the middle of the home, adds warmth, life and energy to the scene.
Our waiter promptly brings our wine and proceeds to elaborate on the specials. The number offered is remarkable. Eight entrees, four appetizers and three salad specials were available in addition to the regular menu, which features an array of bold flavor: Jambalaya Pasta ($19.50), Thai High Calamari ($8.95) and Chicken Milanese ($21.00), plus great American bistro classics such as Steak Frites ($31.00), Grilled Fresh Calves Liver ($14.95) and Beef Tenderloin Au Poive ($32.00). For those craving seafood, there is a Seared Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi Ginger Soy ($28.95), Shellfish Risotto with Scallops, Shrimp, Mussels, Calamari and Lobster ($32.00) and Seared Snapper with Shrimp and Scallops ($27.95).
My friend and I decide on two appetizers from the specials list, a stuffed poblano pepper and a duck confit salad. For entrees we chose the steak frites from the standard menu and another special, the veal rib chop.
The salad combines complementary colors and tastes without compromising the true flavors. The greens are sprightly and crisp, very fresh with a just-picked flavor and not overdressed at all (overdressed salads are my pet peeve). The apples, pecans, dried cherries and shredded duck confit served with cranberry-raspberry vinaigrette and parmesan cheese makes a combination perfect for fall weather. The cornmeal fried Poblano pepper paired with black beans and green salsa is classic Southwestern fare. Crispy on the outside, gooey with goat cheese and Monterey Jack on the inside, the contrast in textures matches well with the flavors of lively salsa verde and earthy black beans. This is much better than the “authentic” Mexican food you get in some places.
Entrees arrive. Whoa! The 14-ounce veal rib chop has been stuffed full, so it is quite formidable when it arrives in front of me. The side dishes on both plates are a colorful combo of red and yellow peppers, sugar snap peas and zucchini. The colors are gorgeous together and they shine. These little babies are cooked to perfection, their sweet flavor released with each bite. I cut into the chop to find it is cooked exactly how our server explained it, medium rare to medium. The first bite of the chop is succulent, moist, sweet and finely textured, and the prosciutto wrapping lends a salty, crispy element. I cut in further and fontina cheese comes oozing up from the center. A bite of the full creation—veal, sage, fontina and prosciutto—is simply glorious. They certainly know what they’re doing back there in the kitchen, and I’m rewarded by their expertise. My friend’s steak is a 16-ounce rib eye and is cooked exactly as ordered, with perfect grill marks crisscrossing. Hutch’s switches out the French fries normally served as “frites” and adds basil hash browns instead.
We love our meals, but it finally does prove to be too much for us size-wise, so the busser comes over and offers to wrap it. All-around good service is proving to be another thing Hutch’s does right. We are in the hands of pros.
I love sweets, so of course we see what’s for dessert. Along with crème brulee, chocolate caramel layer cake and Bailey’s cheesecake, they are offering a selection of gelati and sorbet, and a fresh fruit/cookie cup dessert. We choose the cookie cup and the crème brulee, along with an espresso for me and a coffee for my friend. They arrive and we dig in. A generous layer of brittle sugar tops the crème brulee. My spoon can’t wait to crack it. Orange zest heightens the experience as we dive into the vanilla custard, which is creamy soft. The caramelized sugar crust is cracking, so it works well. The almond-laced cookie, about the size of a small soup cup, is resting in a small pool of caramel sauce and contains fresh blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and mango, garnished with mint atop fresh whipped crème. Use the spoon to combine all those flavors together. Heaven!
The meal has ended but my friend and I are not ready to call it a night, so we head to Hutch’s inviting bar for another glass (or two) of wine. Once again, Hutch’s has provided a fine evening out, satisfying in so many different ways.