Rowhouse Bakery & Restaurant, the multi-faceted restaurant operation installed in the former Lord Chumley space on Delaware Avenue, gives customers reasons to come by all day long, six days a week.
The restaurant is closed Mondays, but every other day of the week, people have come to 483 Delaware Ave. in the morning for the bakery, which turns out first-class croissants, pain au chocolat (both $3.50) and other breakfast comestibles.
They also come for the full-fledged coffee bar, which serves up chai lattes, cortados and other coffee drinks. The grab-and-go coolers stock juices like the emerald-colored "see" (kale, spinach, apple, lemon, celery, cucumber, $5.50) and smoothies like the "snap" (chocolate, almond butter, coconut, banana, almond milk, $5.50).
After getting their orders filled, customers wander the two-story space looking for a place to perch. Tables fill with laptops tapping into the wifi.
At midday customers can choose lunch items including sandwiches on housebaked bread ($9-$12), and pizzas ($12-$14) from the wood-fired oven that perfumes the interior with woodsmoke.
The housemade sausage pie, with ricotta, bitter rapini greens and an egg ($14) was remarkable for its crisp-chewy crust, spotted with the intense heat of the oven.
Hearty lunch fare includes a burger topped with cheddar, fried onions, lettuce, tomato and garlic aioli ($12). It was cooked to a proper medium rare and its puffy housemade potato bun gave eaters an excellent handle on the situation while soaking up meat juices.
On the lighter side, a salmon salad ($11) combined an expertly seared piece of fillet with grilled baby bok choy flavored with a dressing spiked with Vietnamese fish sauce. The anchovy in the dressing pulled the salmon and the supporting salad together well.
One outstanding appetizer was clams with bacon and toast ($12), shellfish and house-smoked bacon served with enough good bread to soak up the rich broth.
Dinner adds the chance of beef and barley soup ($5), a thick, potent potage of short ribs and pearly grain. It was an exemplar of the form.
The evening also brings entrees like peppery roast chicken, served with brussels sprouts fortified with duck confit, cauliflower cream and potatoes ($24). The skin was rendered crackly golden on the heat of the wood-fired oven.
The full bar includes a slate of original cocktails. A Buffalo Union Negroni ($12) including Tommyrotter gin and Lockhouse Ibisco, made good use of hometown spirits. But the Polish Prairie ($10), which starts with Zubrowka Polish Bison Grass Vodka, elderflower syrup and green tea, should include a warning that grass clippings are involved.
Desserts included homey chocolate pudding and a vibrant lemon tart in a crunchy, buttery shortbread shell (both $6).
Service might be slow as the new crew learns how to navigate the challenging distances and myriad offerings of its menus. But at first glance, Rowhouse Bakery & Restaurant has restored the Delaware Avenue space to civic relevance again.
Hours: Cafe breakfast 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, with sit-down brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Lunch starts at 11 a.m., and dinner at 5 p.m. Closed Monday. Phone: 500-2253.
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