Archive of ‘Buffalo’ category

Burning Buffalo

It seems like Buffalo is having another new restaurant open every week. We go out for dinner twice a week and we still can’t keep up. We have a list of places we have yet to visit, and new ones keep getting added! Burning Buffalo is a new restaurant and bar on Hertel Ave, and we tried to go a few weeks ago but they were closed. Turns out we tried to go the day before their official opening. Oops. But we made it there eventually.

I was starting to get a little sad, because honestly, I haven’t had a local bloody mary that blew me away in a while. They’ve been mostly alright, but nothing GREAT! When I saw it on the menu I was hesitant to order it, only because I wanted something yummy to drink, and I was scared of being disappointed again. But I gave them a chance anyway.

Enter the terrible dark bar photography.

The Burning Buffalo’s Bloody Mary

The Burning Buffalo Bloody Mary. Served in a pint glass for $8, and garnished with lemon, olive and a full celery stick, this cocktail is labeled “Local” for featuring Niagara Distilling’s 1812 Vodka and a house made mix. Advertised as smoky and spicy, I was a little nervous since the last bloody I had that was labeled “smoky”, in St Louis, was really too much. Fortunately, this bloody was a fantastic mix of smoke and spice. It didn’t taste like they stirred it with a lump of burned wood straight out of the campfire. The spice wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely present, as well as a lot of visible pepper. And if you needed more, there was definitely some pickle flavor as well.

I was impressed at first taste, and I had J take a sip as well. He is still scared of bloody marys, but even he said it was pretty good. I’ll learn him one day!

Burning Buffalo’s bloody is one of the best I’ve had locally in a while. Definitely try it. I also had their turkey club sandwich, which included a stuffed banana pepper, and it was fantastic.

Hearth + Press

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.

And cocktails.

San Marzano Bloody Mary

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.

New York Beer Project

2 years ago one of my friends and co-workers invited me to be a part of our company’s trivia team for Cradle Beach’s “Buffalo’s Smartest Company” fundraiser each spring. Our company won a few years ago, but as they like to pick on me, we haven’t won since I joined the team. 🙁 I like trivia, and showing off weird knowledge, even if I do feel pretty stupid now that I’ve finished my first season playing Learned League (I came in 18th of 24, and had several competition days where I scored zero, boo!) So of course, bar trivia is a good mix of smarts and spirits, and we will attend different styles at different places around Buffalo, the most recent one occurring at the New York Beer Project in Lockport, NY.

J and I headed over there a bit early, as we had nothing else to do, and good thing we did! We were told it started at 9 but when we got there at 8:30, it had already started. We joined in late as The Dirigible Plums, as we waited for our other friends to show up, and the quiz master gave us a free 10 points to make up for missing most of the first round.

We’ve visited NYBP before and tried all their beers, but J got a flight again, and I decided on trying their Bloody Mary.

New York Beer Project Bloody Mary

Served in a hurricane glass for $10, the NYBP had some garnish game going on – cheese cubes, pepperoni, pepper, bacon, shrimp, and olives on a skewer. The drink had a good amount of spice, good tomato flavor, with a hint of pickle. It was a decent offering from a brewery, and I’d have one again if I wasn’t in the mood for beer.

We ended up winning trivia night, by a lot. Guess we didn’t need those free 10 points!

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!! And happy anniversary to Bloody Queen City! I bought the domain a year ago today, so it’s time for a new review.

I wanted to have a bloody on Christmas morning, but I woke up too late and didn’t have time to enjoy one before going to the parents to celebrate, and then work (boo!). Then I wanted to have a bloody on New Years Day, but again, I woke up too late, and didn’t have time to enjoy one before work (boo again!). But given that we were up until 9am celebrating, I was allowed to sleep until 4! (Hey, we work til 4am, our Champagne toast happens closer to 6am.)

I have yet to have one in 2017, so we’re going to have to settle for one of the drinks I have in the archive. Deep South Taco‘s Mexican Bloody.

Deep South Taco is a fairly new Mexican restaurant in Buffalo, a little more than a year old I believe. They just opened their 2nd location on Hertel Ave, the first being on Ellicott St downtown. We’ve gone there quite a bit, as they have a nice big patio in the summer, and of course, delicious food and drinks. It took me a long time to finally try one of their 4 Bloody Mary offerings, as I always get margaritas with Mexican food, and we haven’t yet been there for brunch.

Another terrible, terrible photo, but there was just no way to capture this one.

The Mexican Bloody features El Jimador Blanco tequila, Mexican spiced bloody mix, and a chicharron for $7.50. Served with a spiced rim, lemon, and lime, along with the chicharron it was very tomato-y with a touch of a burned taste, like ghost pepper or habanero, but in the end was not very spicy. There was visible pepper and a hint of celery salt. There wasn’t much of a taste from the tequila, which is good for me, since it’s not my booze of choice unless it’s in a margarita. It is a decent offering, but much like other drinks I’ve had at Mexican restaurants, for me I’m sticking with the margaritas. (And being my first chicharron, I’ve decided I’m not quite a fan of them.)

810 Meadworks

I’ve been slacking. While we were at dinner a few weeks ago, J pointed out that I hadn’t blogged any drinks in a while. So that night I had a bloody mary but I got lazy posting about it. Now I’m 3 drinks behind, but that ends today! I’m going to start with the most recent one though, 810 Meadworks, and work backwards.

J had found a blog entry about local cocktails, and it featured 810 Meadworks as having WNY’s best bloody mary, which meant I had to try it. Somewhat unfortunately, we live about an hour away from 810, which is located in Medina, NY so it was a bit of a drive, but there is also a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Medina, so we made a night of it.

If you are not familiar with mead, it is an alcohol made from fermented honey, and it may have been history’s first fermented liquid! Since it’s made with honey, mead typically tends to be sweet, with even “dry” meads being sweeter than what you’d expect if you are used to dry wines.

My first, and previously only, mead experience was from a meadery on the west side of Seneca Lake, Earle Estates Meadery. While in the area with my parents, and aunt and uncle, we stopped in and did a tasting. I don’t remember my other family members being a fan, since they typically go for very dry wines, but I thought it was different and some were very tasty (in particular, their Cruisin’ Cranberry.)

810 Meadworks opened in 2014, with 8 different meads on tap. That number has grown to over 20, and we tried them all! Flights cost $5, for 3 – 2oz mead samples, which you can pair with some very creative handcrafted chocolates, or other small plates (there is no kitchen in the tasting bar so you’re looking at cheese and crackers, breads and spreads, to go along with your mead.) After your flight(s), if you’re still looking for more, they sell mead by the glass, and mead cocktails – which is where the bloody mary comes into play.

The Ghost of Mary

Presenting The Ghost of Mary! For $4, owner and brewmaster Bryan DeGraw, put together this little drink with his Royal Squeeze mead infused with ghost peppers, V8 bloody mary mix, and 2 spears of pickled asparagus for garnish. He asked if I wanted it very spicy, or just regular spicy, so of course I said “Very!”, which meant 2 oz of the ghost pepper mead. (Regular spicy would be made with just 1 oz, and mild would be made with a serrano and thai pepper infused mead instead.) The drink was different than your usual bloody mary, as the mead gives it a sweetness that vodka or other liquors do not. And the ghost peppers definitely made it spicy, probably too spicy for some people, but not for me! It was a simple drink, with a big taste, and I definitely recommend giving it a try if you are in the area.

As I said earlier, we tried all the meads currently on offer and I would say I enjoyed almost all of them. I didn’t try Fresh Territory, a pineapple cucumber mix, because cucumbers = evil, and strangely neither of us cared for their most popular mead – Sweet Devotion. But they had a special release Maple Tap, aged in a bourbon barrel, that was right up J’s alley and came home with us, along with a ghost pepper Royal Squeeze for me, and a bottle of Cheeky Keen for a gift. Check them out if you’re in the area, or as we did, make a special trip. (And if you want some great Mexican, give Mariacha De Oro a try!)

***
In related news, The Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest is returning in 2017, this time being held at Riverworks, which allows for a larger crowd. Tickets for the fest sold out in less than 4 days, again! Glad I got mine on the first day. Can’t wait!

Brunch at CRāVing

Sunday morning, we woke up fairly early (for night shift workers) after attending an Oktoberfest the afternoon before and going to bed early. Up early means brunch! It was a cool fall day, but nice enough to take a walk and get some food. I suggested we try Lloyd’s Taco Factory. We had their brunch before, when they were just serving out of their truck in partnership with Buffalo Proper, but now with a brick and mortar location they’ve started offering their own brunch. We made it to the restaurant only to find it closed! Now what? Time to cross the street and check out what CRāVing had to offer.

On their brunch cocktail menu, CRāVing was featuring a Traditional bloody mary for $8.50, but also offered Adam’s Bloody – Tomato, fennel, beets, horseradish root, celery, sriracha, worcestershire, lemon, lime and vodka for $10.50.

Adam's Bloody at CRāVing

Adam’s Bloody at CRāVing

Garnished with an olive and lemon slice, it didn’t look particularly fancy (especially after last weekend‘s bloody!) It was very watery, with a touch of horseradish tang. It had a good spice level, but none of the flavors were particularly strong. It didn’t have a strong tomato taste, and I couldn’t detect any fennel or celery flavor. It wasn’t mind blowing, but it was drinkable, and for whatever reason, it felt healthy!

J commented that I’m supposed to be making him taste my drinks, to palate train him, so he finally had his first taste of a bloody mary…and his last. LOL

William Ks

I don’t feel that I have that much going on in life, but somehow I found myself too busy to be able to write up this bloody mary review from last week at William K’s in the Erie Basin Marina. Perhaps it’s the need to pick and do something with the bushels and bushels of peppers and tomatoes I’ve got growing in the garden. I’m drowning!

Last weekend was the Buffalo Maritime Festival at Canalside and the adjacent Naval Park, which was visited by the World’s Largest Rubber Duck! While it created a perfect storm of traffic in the area, I thought it was a good time to multi task and see the duck, and get some brunch and a bloody (and J could play pokemon).

The World's Largest Rubber Duck in Buffalo NY!

The World’s Largest Rubber Duck in Buffalo NY!

William K’s seems to be a recent addition to the Buffalo restaurant scene, and I had seen a posting from a brunch there on instagram a few months ago. Located in the Erie Basin Marina, it’s a bit farther down the point than we usually go, so we didn’t exactly know where it was when we first heard of it. The restaurant is right on the water, past Templeton Landing, at the point where the river meets the lake, with a perfect view of the newly re-lit light house.

The view!

The view!

William K’s offered a house bloody and a spicy bloody, which was my choice. Served in a pint glass for $8, it definitely had a good deal of spice. You could detect the addition of Frank’s hot sauce, but I don’t believe it was the only thing contributing to the spiciness. It was fairly thick, with visible pepper in the mix. Garnished with a lemon, lime and olive it was a very drinkable offering, though not particularly unique.

William K's bloody

William K’s bloody

J ordered his standard choice, of eggs, bacon and potato, while I went on a limb and tried the blueberry french toast (with ice cream on top!). If you were going for brunch at the harbor, looking at William K’s versus Templeton Landing, I’d definitely go with William K’s.

Your standard olive, lime and lemon garnish.

Your standard olive, lime and lemon garnish.

We’re going on vacation soon, spending a few days in Boston and a few in the Adirondacks. Hopefully I can find some good drinks to try!

Barrel and Brine Mix Release Party

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, Lockhouse Distillery was having a mix release party, and while I thought it was for a mix that they were creating, it turns out it was a party for Barrel and Brine‘s mix. If you recall, they were the ones making the mix for the Black Sheep which I reviewed a few months ago, but now they are bottling it for public sale. So while I was a little bit less excited, since I’ve had the mix before, I was still excited that there was any kind of Bloody Mary party to go to.

Lockhouse was offering 3 different Bloody Mary concoctions: The Pizza Lovers, the Barreled Bloody, and Mary’s Garden. I thought I was being smart by ordering all 3 at once, so I could taste test them all together, but I was wrong. Not only because they warmed up and the ice melted, but because I’m pretty sure my drinks were made by the bar back, and they were all made incorrectly. *sigh* Just my luck.

Top = Barreled Bloody, Left = Pizza Lovers, Right = Mary's Garden

Top = Barreled Bloody, Left = Pizza Lovers, Right = Mary’s Garden

So let’s start with the Pizza Lovers. It was supposed to have mozzarella, pepperoni and basil, and feature Lockhouse vodka. As you can see in the photo (the drink on the left) it did have a skewer with cheese and pepperoni, but it lacks the basil that was stuck in everyone else’s drink. Ok, no big deal. This bloody was made with a different mix than the other two, which I’m assuming was still made by Barrel and Brine, but I’m not sure. It was poured out of an unlabeled wine bottle, and was a completely different texture and flavor. Honestly, it didn’t really taste like much, and of the 3, it was the least exciting. There was a lot of debris floating in it, even though it was still quite liquidy, with mild spice and pickle flavor. Beyond that, it didn’t taste like much.

Next, the Barreled Bloody. The drink was supposed to be made with barrel aged gin, molasses bacon rim, pepperocini, celery and chives, but as you can see in the photo (the top drink), all I got was a pepperocini, and I suspect it was made with vodka. Assuming that it was indeed made with vodka, this was pretty much your basic normal bloody, with the Barrel and Brine mix, poured out of one of the jars they were selling. Surprisingly, it had a very different flavor from the Bloody using their mix at Black Sheep (which is a good thing!). It was definitely not as overwhelmingly pickle flavored and salty, with a mild spice level, that was very good. It had a good strong tomato flavor, and was definitely drinkable. The lack of a bacon rim = highly disappointing.

Bloody triple feature!

Bloody triple feature!

Lastly, Mary’s Garden, which was being offered with Lockhouse vodka or gin, though he didn’t ask me what I wanted. I suspect it was gin, as it had a completely different flavor than the other 2, and I thought it might be a rosemary flavor but then…maybe not, since everything that was supposed to be in my drink was missing. It was supposed to be garnished with rosemary, cucumber, dilly bean, sweet pepper and pearl onion – hence the “garden” part of the drink. As you can see in the first photo (the drink on the right) all I ended up with was pearl onion and olives (not listed!). Made with the jars of mix again, as a whole, it was the best of the 3, either from the gin or rosemary flavor, which made it more interesting than your usual bloody mary. I just wish it had come as described because while I hate cucumber and didn’t miss it, I looooove dilly beans. I would definitely order this one again, just not from the bar back!

Luckily for me Barrel and Brine also had a garnish table set up, where they were letting you try their various pickled items in your drink, plus selling all their wares. I spoke to them a bit, asking about the mix, and why the Black Sheep’s drink might have been so salty and overwhelming (they said they didn’t know, but that they had heard that before. They did say they leave some things, like Worcestershire sauce, out of the jarred mix in case people want to keep it vegan.) I added some of their green beans, horseradish dill pickles, cajun pickles, pearl onion and this super delicious jalapeno hot sauce to my Mary’s Garden, which put it just over the top into an excellent drink. The hot sauce was very good, and not at all full of vinegar flavor like my arch nemesis Frank’s, so the drink got a nice added punch without altering the flavor profile (and I also bought a bottle for $4, score!)

Mary's Garden, with various Barrel and Brine garnishes added in

Mary’s Garden, with various Barrel and Brine garnishes added in

All the drinks were $9, and mine were served in pint glasses, but that did not seem to be standard. Maybe it was the lack of clean glasses, maybe he messed mine up, but everyone seemed to be getting different styles of glass, from pint, to other beer glasses, to smaller rocks type glasses. If they keep a bloody on offering at Lockhouse, I’m not sure what you’ll end up getting for your $9 in the future. While I was disappointed by the way my drinks were made, especially since we know the bar manager, and their bar tenders are usually excellent when making all their crafty drinks, in the end I was impressed with Barrel and Brine’s mix offering. I would have picked a jar up to enjoy at home if I wasn’t drowning in at least 20 unopened bottles of various mixes I bought to review here. Someday!!

And the best part of all was that the $15 Lockhouse gift card I won at trivia night a few months ago turned out to be for $30!

Belsito Buffalo

Browsing through Facebook the other day, I saw mention of a wine bar in J’s neighborhood that we never noticed before – Belsito. After some investigation, it looked good, so I suggested we stop there between our tour of the SS Columbia and heading to the Erie County Fair for the rest of the night. We must have walked and driven by this restaurant 1000 times, and never noticed it was there, but I’m glad we finally found it.

I wasn’t expecting to have a bloody mary when we decided to go there, and J suggested a bottle of Proseco before I noticed the cocktail menu. It had been a while since I had a good bloody (no thanks to Templeton Landing!), so I gave it a shot.

Belsito Bloody

Belsito Bloody

I forget how much the drink was, $8 or $9, the bloody comes with 3 mozzarella stuffed olives, and a few basil leaves. I loved the fancy ice, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that kind of ice in a drink, and it’s fun! Their bloody featured local Lockhouse vodka, and a house made mix. It was quite liquidy, but it was nice, since it’s summer and I didn’t really want a heavy drink. It was really mild on the spice scale (once again I didn’t ask for it spicy, I wonder what they would have added), and it had a good tomato flavor. It was quite refreshing, which you can’t always say about bloody maries.

Mozzarella stuffed olives

Mozzarella stuffed olives

I felt obligated to eat an olive, since it was a key part of the drink. Unfortunately I still don’t like olives.

It was a really nice day out, and the patio along the street was comfortable until our pizzas arrived, along with the bees and forced us indoors. Belsito is a nice spot, worth another visit for sure.

**
Speaking of Lockhouse Distillery, they are debuting their bloody mary mix with a party tomorrow. I’m excited! Review to come!

Templeton Landing fails again

In case you missed it, or live under a rock, last week this little game based on a very obscure Japanese cartoon called Pokemon came out. And the internet exploded. LOL

I know nothing about Pokemon, as I was a bit older than the intended audience at the time it hit big in the United States. But I couldn’t help but get sucked into the game. It’s such a great concept!! You’re getting people out and about, including people that might not normally be super active. It’s active, it’s social, it leads you to discover things about your city that you’ve never noticed before. I love it. It’s made me get out of bed and walk 7 miles the last 3 days, where normally I sit on my phone in bed playing random games for hours, before moving the lazy party to the couch for the rest of the afternoon until I have to go to work. So kudos to Pokemon Go.

J couldn’t help but get sucked in as well, getting to level 12 in a little more than a day, so when I suggested brunch and a Pokemon date on Sunday, he was all for it. Plus, trying Templeton Landing again would take us to the Erie Basin Marina and Canalside, which is a Pokemon orgy.

Unlike last time, it was actually brunch at Templeton Landing this time, and we were able to order breakfast foods, with the advertised bottomless mimosa and colossal bloody mary.

I don't even care how terrible this photo is, I was just so mad this was all I got.

I don’t even care how terrible this photo is, I was just so mad this was all I got.

Someone please tell me what is colossal about that drink? What happened to the drinks full of fantastic fun garnishes from last year?? That is what I want! THAT is “colossal”! Instead I got a $10 bloody in a pint glass, with a few olives and citrus garnish. Ugh. Basically it was the same drink I got the first time we were there, full of thick tomato juice and Frank’s hot sauce. As soon as our waitress put the drink in front of me, I was epically let down. Ugh. It really ruined my time for a while. I definitely never need to go back.

At least the koi pond in front of Templeton was a Pokestop we could hit up every 5 minutes.

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