Quincey Morris opened @Eleven on Minnesota Avenue, just off of Main Street, this past August, and business is going very well. This is a mainly a take-out restaurant, with limited window seating, but @Eleven features a sit-down style menu unlike most other grab-and-go places. In addition, whether you’re waiting for an order or eating at the window bar, @Eleven provides free wi-fi.
Quincey and General Manager Monique Cunningham shared the fact that they hope to breaking through the back wall soon to accommodate a dining room. In the meanwhile, you can expect things you’d never expect to see on a menu with wings, subs and tacos. How about fresh crab legs and scallops, for starters?
The reason behind the fancy fare is Chef Earnest Johnson, formerly of the Fountain Blue Lounge on Kensington and several other notable Buffalo eateries. Small venue though this may be, Earnest has brought a loyal following with him. Earnest treated me to a taste of his wings with the special sauce he makes.
As he talked, and I wrote, he admonished me with, “Get ‘em down while they’re hot!” Good call Earnest; the honey-mustard sauce was sweet and tangy, and the jerk sauce had an initial spiciness with a flavorful after-burn. I love that.
While I talked to Quincey, Earnest came out with some chicken alfredo. Sure enough, to illustrate Quincey’s point about the sit-down quality of the food, this was big restaurant stuff.
The alfredo sauce was there, but played a supporting role to the tasty breaded and sliced chicken. Same with the wings; they were drizzled with sauce, not swimming in it. Perfect ratios.
Earnest is no fast food jockey, he’s a chef, along with Chef Phil Balden who was schooled at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, and @Eleven’s food reflects that experience and training.
Quincey (above) was born and raised in Buffalo, and he went to Bennett High School, just a block away from the restaurant he now runs, before graduating from Cleveland Hill. After that, it was off to school in Atlanta, Georgia. One thing Quincey brings back from college is a drink he calls the ATL, which is popular at @Eleven. It’s a sweet concoction that is reminiscent of loganberry snow cones…and it’s screaming for vodka. ”How did you know?” Earnest asks. ”That’s how we drank it in college,” he says. It just figured.
An event planner, Quincey seems to have pulled this spot next to the old Mickey Rats together in no time. His organizational skills and a feel for pulling together the right elements – location, staff, product – are evident in this small, happy place with far better than average take-out.
“We’ll bring some life to this corner,” Quincey says. ”The University District is great, the police are aware and attentive.” He points to the median outside his window, saying, “We’ll keep that up, too. It’s good to be here. It’s good to bring city-style food to this corner.” And then there are those plans to move that wall for a dining room. If @Eleven is Quincey’s test market for a greater endeavor, I’d say the event planner turned restaurant owner is planning just right.
11 Minnesota Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214
New Hours are Mon – Sat: 11 to 11