Another cold and snowy night in Buffalo. While the southtowns were getting pounded with lake effect snow, downtown was only getting a dusting, and it was dinner time. The theater district, and Main St, has been having a bit of a rebirth now that the city has reopened the street to cars, leading to several new restaurants opening in the area. We decided to try Hearth + Press, the newest stone hearth pizza restaurant.
Hearth + Press is a bit of a weird combo. Given it’s location in the business area of the city, it markets itself as a coffee shop and lunch spot, hence the “Press” part of the name (press referring to French press, and not panini press, as I assumed). The menu offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, pastries and coffee along with their Neapolitan pizzas.
J immediately saw there was a Bloody Mary on the menu, so my choice was made. I think it was around $8, and served in a rocks glass, the drink features a house made mix of San Marzano tomatoes, the same tomatoes they use for their pizza sauce. Garnished with an olive and lemon peel this is how drinking it went:
me: (first sip)
j: Ha! That face!
me: (stirs drink, mixing up whatever may have settled to the bottom of the glass)
me: (second sip)
me: (sticks tongue out featuring chunks of tomato)
What to say? You know, I don’t like giving bad reviews. I usually conveniently forget to review the drinks that have been downright bad, because what’s the point? But sometimes you just have to do it (like Templeton Landing). This drink is a paradox. All at once, this drink was watery and chunky. That first sip contained a very liquidy drink full of chunks…actual chunks…of tomato. This was not the Ragu-like chewiness of one of my St Louis bloodies, which was entirely thick, or the Burning Asphalt mix which was like ketchup. It was like opening a can of diced tomatoes in juice. Even though the drink was freshly made, I thought maybe there was just a lot of debris that settled to the bottom of the glass, so I stirred it up. You could bring up entire chunks of tomato on the straw. The 2nd sip was more of the same, chunks of tomato that have to be chewed. I may be weird, I don’t like hard things in soft food, like fruit on the bottom yogurt, but it was just not right. Which is a shame, because San Marzano tomatoes are delicious, and the drink itself did not taste bad. I just can’t. I tried to finish it, but I couldn’t (and that’s rare). There was no hint of spice at all (I did not request a spicy drink, because I just assume there is some spice), and other than possibly pepper, there was no other flavors beyond tomato.
As it stands, I would never order this drink again. My advice: keep making a fresh mix, but strain, strain, strain!
As a whole, we didn’t have a great experience. It was uncomfortably cold inside, despite an open hearth oven, and (as we discovered) a portable heater behind J. Our pizzas were fine, featuring a sweeter dough which I enjoyed, but we were not blown away, and I would try something other than the pomodoro and pesto pizza that I ordered if we return. Basically we had to eat as fast as possible, so we could get out of the cold, and back outside into the cold which didn’t feel much different.