Hotel restaurants are often culinary ambassadors of the local community. But while they feature examples of the local cuisine, there aren’t many that also highlight local beverages. Still fewer brew their own.
Lafayette Brewing Company, on the first floor of the Hotel @ the Lafayette and armed with a 15-barrel brewing system, plays the part of brewery, tasting room and hotel bar.
Those familiar with Pearl Street Grill & Brewery will see distinct similarities in the Pan-American Expedition-inspired decor. That’s because the two brewpubs, along with Buffalo RiverWorks, are owned by the same company. But while the decor is similar, the beer is not.
“Each location has their own brewery and we brew different beers,” said Erica Ambrose, Lafayette Brewing Company’s general manager. “The only one that we thread throughout is our Trainwreck brew.”
Trainwreck is an amber ale with a flavor balanced between malt and hops and notes of sweet bread, dry-roasted nuts and chocolate. Lafayette’s signature beer, Roosevelt Red, also is a red ale, but has caramel and chocolate notes with earthy hints from the English hops used in the brewing process.
The brewery’s menu includes the German-style Lackawanna Lager and a Belgian Wit called High Iron Ale that has a spiced flavor with orange and coriander. Beers can be purchased in pours ranging 10-ounce ($4) up to 100-ounces ($31.50). Flights of four 6-ounce samples are $10 each.
The beer menu includes two to four seasonal styles. Currently on tap is Citra single hop XPA - like an IPA but with a hoppier flavor - and Coffee Vanilla Cream Stout which has a sweet, roasty flavor and vanilla aroma that makes it a great beer to have as dessert.
“We collaborated with Public Espresso that is also located in the Lafayette Hotel,” Ambrose said. “We used their roasters to start, and then used their leftover coffee grounds to go into making that beer.”
For those who are not craft beer drinkers, the bar and restaurant also serve Labatt Blue, Blue Light, a full line of spirits and wine.
The food menu plays up the brewpub atmosphere. With a selection of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas, the restaurant leaves entrees like its honey sweet potato chicken skewers served over wild rice pilaf for to the weekly rotating specials menu with prices ranging around $13.
Luckily for diners, day-to-day dishes - like the barbecue chicken salad with black bean corn relish, cherry tomatoes, cheddar jack cheese and fried tortilla chips or apple brie grilled cheese - are filling enough for a meal, especially when paired with the $5 soup of the day or an $11 order of 10 wings.
The restaurant offers a variety of eating experiences: dining room, a bar with high-top tables, a lounge and a game room.
On a recent Friday night visit, young professionals - twenty and thirty-somethings - stood in the bar chatting and drinking in their work clothes. Others sat in jeans and flannel shirts at the bar watching CNN on the giant televisions hanging above the shelves of liquor. Couples and groups wrapped up meals across the entryway in the dining room.
In the back of the bar area, there is an entrance to a smaller, more intimate room with a fireplace and couches. Taxidermied animals on the wall give the room a cozy, lodge-like feel.
Beyond this lounge is a brightly lit game room with couches arranged in nooks along one wall and an assortment of dart boards, pinball machines, shuffleboard table, pool table and foosball table spread along the other side.
For any guests unsure of which room to choose, don’t worry. Drinks can be carried from room to room and the same menu is served throughout.
Lafayette Brewing Company
391 Washington St.
Hours: Open daily at 11 a.m.
Eat: Pot roast poutine ($11.75) or strawberry salad with crumbly bleu, pecans and a balsamic reduction ($10)
Drink: Rough Rider Robust Porter with roasty, chocolate flavors and an earthy finish
Bring: Quarters or dollar bills to play pinball.