Elmwood Village Vegetarian
My husband and I drove into Buffalo after nearly a two-year hiatus. We were tired, we were stressed, but damnit we were happy to be home! We celebrated with dinner at a Buffalo restaurant. Essex St. Pub has been around since before I left, yet I never made it in. While chatting with friends, they raved about Essex Pub’s burgers and we decided to give it a go.
Located at 530 Rhode Island, Essex St. Pub is a classic Buffalo bar. Small outdoor patio, dim inside with a nice oak bar, a pool table, and a couple of seats in the back. It was about 6 pm and a few people were on the patio, a few people were at the bar, and some people about my age (first of the Millennials) were walking in with us to grab dinner.
Courtney and I sat at a corner booth table for two. Menus were already on the table and to my great surprise, there were a few vegetarian and vegan options! As my regular readers know, a few were already off my options, but they sounded amazing. There were two Sammiches that sounded like great options for those without soy intolerances: The Vegetarian Rueben made with crispy fried tofu, coleslaw, chipotle mayo, and deli Swiss all grilled on marbled rye and served with a single side for $13.50. The Vegan Club stacks crispy fried tofu, lettuce, tomato, crispy house smoked coconut (who does that?!), vegan chipotle mayo on sourdough toast also with a side for $11.50.
Flip over the menu and the options didn’t stop. The very first burrito is a hearty Mexi-Cali Black Bean & Cheese on your choice of wheat or white tortilla. It’s then loaded with spicy vegetarian black beans, cheddar jack cheese, house salsa verde, pico de gallo, lettuce and tomato, served with a side option for $10.50.
What I Ordered
While this sounded amazing, I’ve been hankering for some spaghetti squash (did I mention I’ve been in Missouri?). What do you know: the last section of the menu was BBQ, and there, the last place I expected it, was Vegan BBQ (Smoked Spaghetti Squash). For $11.50 you can get hickory smoked spaghetti squash on a hard roll prepared in either Memphis Style, which is topped with vegan coleslaw, or Hawaiian, topped with pineapple pico and smoked coconut (there it is again!) with two sides. I’m not much of a coconut person (except canned and boxed coconut milk, which I’m oddly in love with in Thai food), so I took the Memphis route. I also ordered the Kentucky Cornbread (appropriate) and the Mac Daddy Mac ‘n Cheese. My server told me that it had bacon in it, so I thanked her and switched to the Lemon Basil Field Greens Salad.
This BBQ sandwich rocked! It has a hella kick, so if you’re not a spicy person, this is not for you. If you enjoy that slow burn, try this sandwich immediately. Not enough people utilize spaghetti squash, but Essex Pub gets it. Spaghetti squash is a dense, hearty, and compact winter squash that’s a low calorie/low-ish carb option. It’s the kind of food that makes for an excellent pulled pork substitution, and that’s exactly what Essex did. The coleslaw was mixed in so the BBQ sauce covered everything equally. The cornbread was stupid good: moist, kernels of corn, and a little sweet, LIKE NORMAL CORNBREAD IS SUPPOSED TO BE. The Lemon Basil salad was great: fresh, tangy but not too much, and decent sized.
There was clearly a lot of food, so I didn’t finish the sandwich, but not for lack of attempting. It was very, very good, but filling. At the $11.50 price tag, the value for fresh food, ingenuity, and portion size was certainly there, and our server was just great. Everyone in the neighborhood knows this place is great, too. Essex St. Pub has their ArtVoice awards mounted on the walls under a banner of license plates from all over the states. Several bicycles rode up, the patio filled out, and all but one table was crowded with people having lively conversations.
If you’re looking for vegetarian and vegan options, get out to Essex St. Pub. This place gets the alternative eating lifestyle and embraces it fully. Maybe you’ll see me there!