What's in a restaurant name?
In the case of the Angry Buffalo at the Rose Garden, we hadn't a clue.
We'd heard it was a German restaurant, but now sported a revamped dining space and new menu, which we discovered offered a few unique twists on its food a la "gastro pub-esque."
Yet Angry Buffalo's food matches the tavern's personality. In other words, no yuppies or duck fat fries here, which isn't a bad thing.
It was a fearsome foursome on our visit -- including my great Aunt Vi (that's Valerie to you).
AB's menu has only three dinners ranging from $12 to $15. Salads, sandwiches and burgers comprise the majority of selections under $10 perfect for cheap eaters.
Off the bat two starters grabbed our attention -- deep-fried pickles ($6) and loaded fries ($7). Would they be the same old, same old? No, we found out.
The pickles arrived and we gasped. Giant spears in a light lovely batter accompanied by a sweet chili garlic aioli dipping sauce. Our server, Melissa, correctly warned us to take our time, as the interiors were scorching hot. Once we dared chomp, the crunchy exterior and dilly, sour interior set against the spicy sauce was a delight and received the Aunt Vi stamp of approval.
The loaded fries (skins on, were they fresh cut?) were woven with house-made chili and melted cheddar, topped with a thinner sour cream sauce and sweet and salty thick-cut, smoky applewood bacon.
We were informed the chili is made with beer for a little depth of flavor. What could have been greasy and heavy was not. Thumbs up again. Next time we'll try the homemade onion rings ($6) that we heard are killer, too.
Since we'd already had fries, we chose a side salad that is offered with burgers and sandwiches in place of fries or chips (bonus: no extra cost).
Another surprise: it wasn't your average anemic iceberg. Instead a composition of beautiful field greens, crunchy seedless cucumbers, grape tomatoes and diced red onion arrived with an acidic balsamic dressing on the side.
For the main event, my juicy Tequila Jalapeno Burger ($8) arrived perfectly medium rare topped with pepperjack cheese, a jalapeno relish, crispy onion strings and spicy mayo wedged in a lovely toasted Costanzo roll. The jalapeno relish was homemade and provided just enough hot kick and tang.
Aunt Vi picked another winner -- the Bleu Cheese & Bacon Jam Burger ($9). It was gorgeous, with melted cheese, thick applewood bacon and the bacon jam (also house-made). We were told the jam includes onions, garlic and beer, all simmered for a deep flavor.
The Fried Bologna ($6) had multilayers of bologna and melted American cheese topped with nicely grilled onions also on a toasted Costanzo -- a step above the usual one big slice.
The Reuben ($8) was the only letdown. It looked fantastic and was properly grilled on Costanzo's seeded rye with just enough sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese. The taste was there but unfortunately, the corned beef was somewhat tough. We think it was sliced wrong -- cut with the grain, it was stringy.
A Mushroom Bacon Swiss ($9) and a Classic ($7) round out the burger choices. The night's special was a Southwest Burger ($9). Salads include Apple Bacon Bleu ($9), Chicken Souvlaki ($10) and Pittsburgh Steak ($12) that lists fries as one of the ingredients. Sandwiches include Roasted Vegetable ($8), Roasted Turkey ($8) with bacon and avocado and a Prime Rib ($10) topped with cheddar, onion rings, spinach and a horseradish cream. While Pulled Pork ($8), Battered Fish ($7) and Beef on Weck ($8) sandwiches sound mundane, we have no doubt they are of better-than-good quality like the rest.
Service was attentive, including when the chef brought out our food because Melissa was tied up at the bar. We predict that there will be no angry Buffalonians leaving this place anytime soon, including Aunt Vi.
ANGRY BUFFALO AT THE ROSE GARDEN
3.5 pennies (out of four)
"Pub grub that slants gastro."
WHERE: 2753 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville (632-9871, www.angrybuffalo.com)
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes