Review by Jude the Foodie
The pretty and delicious drink (second photo) is the perfect testimony that brunch has come a long way from the long silver chafing dishes filled with dry scrambled eggs, over cooked potatoes and bowls of fruit cocktail fresh from a can.
Town Hall, an upscale bistro in Lewiston, opened during the USA Today/Rand McNally "Best of the Road" mega food tour last June. The addition gave us all yet another option for dining on Center Street.
I love talking to folks from around Western New York talk about Center Street like they would talk about Chippewa or Hertel or Maple. People know that a drive over bridges and down a hill takes them to shops and restaurants like nowhere else in the area.
Lewiston may not have won "Best of the Road," but being named one of the 10 Best Small Towns in America was not a coincidence.
We made 11:30 a.m. reservations for brunch, and I'm really glad we did. When I arrived, the bar was already busy with folks waiting for friends to arrive or to just hang out after church. The tables were filling up and we were seated at one of the booths along the side. The high backs made for a private dining experience, although the room is not large and the noise level pretty high.
Brunch is back in a big way all across the country. My son and his friends go to brunch almost every weekend in New York City. Silly mommy thinks it's for the delicious food at reasonable prices where, in reality, the fact he calls it "Drunk Brunch" should tell me that the reason is the inexpensive drink specials.
Town Hall brings that party theme to Lewiston. A friend of mine told me about the $1 bloody Mary's and bloody Caesars, so I was ready. Unfortunately, New York state does not allow beverage service until noon.
What to do?
Sydnee, our capable, busy and very sweet server, told us about their brunch specials, so we decided to enjoy a cup of coffee and some sliced cinnamon rolls slathered with a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with a little powdered sugar while we waited to order our adult beverages. It's the first time I have ever ordered an appetizer at brunch. Very civilized.
When noon rolled around, Sydnee quickly visited all of her tables where the people were just as anxious as us to order one of the interesting beverage options. Check out their menu online to see their brunch offerings. We ordered a bloody Mary and a drink called a "Berries and Basil." It was a wine glass filled with lemon juice, sparkling wine and simple syrup with sliced strawberries and mulled basil. It was refreshing in a sort of wine-mojito way. If you like mojito's and basil, you will enjoy this drink. If you don't like the feeling of leaves in your sip, this one is not for you. The bloody Mary was well made and the size you would expect for $1. Still, you could not drive if you spend $5, so it is a great value.
There are a lot of breakfast/brunch/lunch options on the menu and they are all reasonably priced. I also appreciated the portion sizes. They were perfect - not just at noon, but all day long. I had a hard time deciding what to have. I waffled (not on the menu and you won't miss them) between the lobster frittata ($10) and the eggs Benedict ($8) and eventually chose the duck hash ($9)
Served in a cast iron casserole dish, the combination of duck confit, potatoes, onions and a poached egg topped with a Tabasco hollandaise was the perfect choice. Duck confit takes two days to prepare and I thought the duck had good flavor. The dish had a great balance and the poached egg was cooked just right so that when I put my fork into the yoke it ran happily over the spicy potatoes and onions.
We also had the pulled pork quesadilla ($8). It was a crispy tortilla filled with slow roasted pork, chipotle barbecue sauce, peppers and onions with Jack cheese. I liked the crunch and flavor. It was not too spicy and I would not have minded more heat.
When we ate every last morsel on our plates, we decided to order another beverage sampling. The BLT was surprisingly good. Usually when I get one of these funky drinks I love the first few sips, like the next few, then regret the order. The flavor of bacon in a beverage is unusual and not unwelcome. It was a pretty presentation and good to the last drop.
I ordered the French 75 with vodka. Had I known the original was made with gin, I would have had it that way. It was a light wine spritzer with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling wine. It is the kind of drink I would enjoy on a summer day over ice.
If you go to Town Hall for brunch, be sure to make a reservation.
And remember that it may be noon somewhere, but it's not until 12 p.m. in Lewiston.
Town Hall American Bistro is located at 453 Center St. For more information, call 716-405-7363 or visit http://www.townhallbistro.com.