Across from the Hyatt Hotel on Pearl Street sits the Century Grill, a long, brick building, which, as it turns out, has a little bit of history.
Along the Main Street train line, and one block over, the location is ideal for any downtown events. There’s a pay parking lot next door, too, which we didn’t hesitate to use on a rainy Friday after work. Well worth the $5.
The interior is extremely comfortable, like your favorite pair of shoes. Despite the high ceilings (looked like tin, too), the place was cozy. We stepped up to the elevated bar, which runs almost the entire left side. There’s wood everywhere – bar, floor, wall paneling, dining booths and beer coolers.
The crowd was big, but not crushing. We quickly claimed a few stools. Oddly, the sound was absorbed. There was a definite hum, but not overwhelming, so we could talk at normal levels. The only ruckus the whole evening? A group of what looked like attorneys getting “loose” (well, for lawyers).
Right off the bat, we had to ask the bartender what the Century Grill used to be, followed by our, “Ah, the Macaroni Company.” We knew we’d been there ages ago in our younger days. The current owners opened in 2003.
Along the bar we noticed engraved and worn brass plaques, and learned they were “regulars” from before CG’s time. We cracked up at names like “Ox Our Greek,” “Nutty Neighbor” and “Evil Jim Brady.” Then the mundane, like “Douglas” and “Adam and Ian.” Where are these folks now?
CG serves a lot of different beers on tap and by the bottle. Beers featured on the board at the entrance were Ithaca Beer Co.’s Cascazilla, Founders Breakfast Stout, Great Lakes Porter, Flying Bison Holiday, Sierra Nevada Celebration and Smuttynose Old Brown Dog. Unfortunately, once you are at the bar, Century doesn’t have a list for patrons, so two of our trio asked about Belgians, and ended up with Ommegang Rare Voss drafts. For me, vodka and cranberry with a splash of soda. Boring, but I like it.
Our end of the bar had the flat-screen TVs. Behind us were two old-school sets. All were tuned to the NFL Network. No Sabres game, so we appreciated getting fantasy football updates.
The décor is eclectic. Beer neon, old beer trays and signs – a real mishmash. Lots of taxidermy too – a sombrero-wearing bison, a deer in a fedora, a buck with party hats on his antlers. The boar wore nothing. How boorish!
The crowd was a good mix. While we only stayed three hours, the spot next to us changed hands three times. First was a guy eating beef on weck, reading a book with pages held down by his butter knife. Next was an accountant-looking type with headphones wrapped around his neck. Finally, a couple of gals and a guy drinking wine, devouring a giant plate of nachos. Interesting to say the least.
We visited on Friday but had been torn about which happy hour to try because of the free bar food. Nacho Average Wednesday? Hot Pretzel Thursday? Tater Tot Friday? Bacon Saturday? (Note the bacon pennant above the kitchen door.) The Tots won and arrived hot, with ketchup. Mmm!
A sign above the kitchen read, “Danger: Men Cooking,” so we dared. Reading the menu, we discovered the building was built as a Freemasons temple, done in the Corinthian style. It also served at times as a livery and apothecary.
What would the Freemasons think about Evil Jim Brady and all the beers on tap? Are wings deep-fried where the horse feed was stored? That’s the cool thing about Buffalo, you never know, but can imagine.
Our wings were fantastic, hot-sauced and meaty; our spinach dip delicious. Chit-chatting and eating, three hours flew by.
Will the Century Grill be around a century from now? We don’t know. But we do think that its existence will be another fascinating note in the long history of the building.
Where: 318 Pearl St. (853-6322, www.thecenturygrill.com
The Scene: Historic comfort zone.
Happy hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with $4 drafts, $4 well drinks and $6 wine. Various food specials by day.
Food: Kitchen is open Monday-Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.
Events: Geeks Who Drink Pub Trivia on Monday nights.