Posts Tagged ‘best of buffalo’

Sidelines – A diamond in the rough

As has been recent tradition, Mid-June brought a week of vacation. We didn’t have real plans, just a few nights out of town. We spent a night on Seneca Lake so we could go see the goats at Lively Run Dairy and have some wine, and we planned 2 nights in Columbus Ohio at the Dog House – Brew Dog’s beer hotel. The rest of the time we just hung around town, relaxed, saw some music etc.

Now it’s been 2 weeks since we visited Sidelines Sports Bar while off of work, and I had all the good intentions in the world to post in a timely manner. I downloaded and edited my photos, I basically knew what I wanted to say, but then I suddenly had no time to write anything up.

I was all set to go when I woke up to no internet in the house. Cycled the power on the modem and router, all the usual stuff, and had to call the cable company in the end. Of course, they say nothing is wrong on their end, it must be my modem. So I drive out to their store to get one of theirs, I am told it should work right when I plug it in, except of course, it doesn’t. Another phone call, still nothing they can do on the phone, they gotta send out a guy. So this turns into 2 days without home internet, and 2 more days of not posting this review. (It turns out SOMEHOW my cable got disconnected AT THE POLE.)

Then it was my birthday, and finally nice weather where all I wanted to do was sit on the back porch. And my normal work hours. And, I won’t lie, Wizards Unite, the Harry Potter augmented reality game finally came out lol. I just had no time to sit in front of the computer and type. And while it is nice out today, I knew I HAD to write this review, so I’m outside on the back porch on the laptop, typing this up even though all I can see is my own reflection in the screen.

Sidelines! Sidelines is a typical “old fashioned” neighborhood sports bar in Buffalo. We had only been there once before when we were out early in the 2018-2019 hockey season and we wanted to find a place to watch the Sabres game. It’s a good enough place. They had a menu with the usual bar food – wings, fingers, fries etc. There was no hint that they served brunch, or that they had a BUILD YOUR OWN BLOODY MARY!


I only found this out on accident when browsing #bloodymary on Instagram (I was epically bored) and they had a post with the above photo. I thought, no chance was this in Buffalo, but it totally was!! This is the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for in Buffalo. The kind of drink promised by Templeton Landing but not delivered. The kind of drink offered by Fat Bob’s once, but not since (that I know of).

It’s not a Build Your Own bar like I had in Arizona, where you are literally mixing yourself a drink, but it’s a list of ingredients that a professional bartender will put together for you. I like that better, because they have skillz. Take a look at what Sidelines was offering.

So many choices!

For a base price of $8, you can pick from a variety of vodkas and tequilas, choose your base and spice level, pick some add in flavors, and choose from a standard list of garnishes. Then if you want to go crazy bananas you can add in a variety of larger garnishes for an additional charge and create yourself a whole brunch meal.

I went with a medium base, because I was adding in Tabasco, horseradish and jalapeno juice and I didn’t want it to be tooooo overwhelming. I am not picky about my vodka but J always orders Tito’s so I just chose that. From the complimentary garnish list I picked pepperoni, bacon, pickle and lemon and lime wedges. To round out my meal in a glass I added a hard boiled egg, chicken won-ton, pizza log and chicken finger.

My Sidelines masterpiece

Arriving in all it’s glory with a spiced rim, the bacon was nice and crispy, the won-ton delicious and everything else A+. The chicken finger was doused in Frank’s hot sauce, which I didn’t expect, but it was fine if not a bit unnecessary (I did order actual breakfast as well). The drink itself was in a larger glass, not your typical pint glass, and had a good flavor.

Color me impressed. This is not the kind of drink, or brunch as a whole, that you would expect from a neighborhood sports bar. This is a definite Best of Buffalo recommendation from me, as you can be as simple or crazy as you want. If you don’t get enough meal in your glass, or like me, you are with a Bloody hater, they offered a nice brunch menu as well. My drink ended up being $18, but you can stick with the basics for $8 and still get a fantastic cocktail. For $24.50 you can get EVERYTHING. And I would imagine if you wanted to double up on a certain garnish, they’d do that too.

I believe brunch is only on Sunday, but don’t quote me on that, just go see them!!

Up next, Columbus Ohio!

The 2nd Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest!

After a successful first outing, Step Out Buffalo brought back the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest for a 2nd year, this time moving from Shea’s Theater to Buffalo Riverworks. The concept was the same, 10 Buffalo bars prepare their best Bloody Mary for a thirsty crowd.

Once again, the event sold out in only a few days, and Jeff was left without a ticket. I managed to find one for him a few days before so J, Jeff and I headed out to try them all (even J decided to try them, to palate train.)

Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest 2.0

It was a nice day out, but it is still winter in Buffalo, and having to park in an overflow lot down the street, that meant coats. So suggestion #1 to Step Out Buffalo for any future winter events of any kind is: COAT CHECK! It forced everyone to make their way through an already crowded space in bulky coats and jackets, and it got hot and uncomfortable after a very short time inside.

But on to the drinks! The samples were smaller this year, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as by the end of the event last time, I got a bit tired of bloodies (sacrilege!) Tommyrotter Distillery provided the vodka again this year, and 10 different bars were in attendance, which was nice to see. My reviews will be pretty short again.

1. The Grange
Ingredients – Tomato, beet, carrot, celery, saline, horseradish, lemon, Worcestershire, tobacco, jalapeno.
Garnish – watermelon radish, pickle, pastrami

I wonder how long it took them to notice there was “tobacco” in the drink! haha!

With a spice rim, and a garnish of pickled jalapeno, meat chunk (actually pastrami), and sliced beet (actually watermelon radish), the drink had a distinct beet-y taste with a hint of smoke from the meat chunk. It was a tad salty, but a decent offering.

The Grange – Beet Box Bloody

2. Deep South Taco
Ingredients – Tomato juice, black pepper, celery salt, horseradish, Frank’s hot sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime juice, olive brine
Garnish – mini beef and weck taco, (savory churro bites)

Deep South Taco (I’m sorry these photos suck)

Deep South Taco had the best garnish of the day, with their savory churro bites, sprinkled with chili powder, and a beef on weck mini taco. I was glad to see most of the bars stepped up their garnish game this year. The drink was heavy on the horseradish flavor, and was quite good. It was very different (and better) than their bloody I had at the restaurant.

Wikipedia: A beef on weck (also known as beef on wick) is a sandwich found primarily in Western New York. It is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and spread with horseradish.

Deep South Taco – Buffalo Traditional

3. Rusty Nickel Brewing
Ingredients – House Bloody Mary mix, Ms. Brown’s London Porter
Garnish – pepperoncini, pimento stuffed Queen olive, sweet gherkin pickle, pepperoni, candied bacon, Wisconsin cheddar. 

Rusty Nickel had great signage

I grabbed the drink, and my hands were immediately sticky, apparently from the mango habanero puree, but I didn’t taste it since I didn’t quite know what it was, and I try not to lick random sticky things. I’m not a huge mango fan, so it was good that there wasn’t overwhelming mango taste to this sample, but it did make it quite sweet. Not bad, but not my style for a Bloody. 2nd best garnish of the day.

Rusty Nickel Brewing – Mango Mary Hop Trot (we lost our sweet table spot, and had to resort to standing at the stage)

4. Lloyd Taco Factory/Truck
Ingredients – Vine ripened tomatoes 3 ways: roasted, pickled and fresh, red and green bell pepper, serrano chili, carrot, tomatillo, Lloyd rocket sauce spice blend
Garnish: pickled cherry tomato and onion pearl, (cilantro)

Nice day for a….RED WEDDING

With the cilantro garnish, I admit I was scared, as I am one of those genetic freaks who hate cilantro because it tastes like soap. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no cilantro taste in the drink, but a strong onion flavor instead. It was reminiscent of salsa, with good spice, and it tasted super fresh. It may have been my favorite of the day. Jeff hated it.

Lloyd’s Red Wedding

5. Sear
Ingredients – Fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle peppers, tomato juice, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper
Garnish – house-made salsa verde with parsley, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, salt and chorizo sausage


Sear had someone live blow-torching their chorizo sausage garnish – badass! The drink wasn’t equally badass though. It had a decent smoky taste, but it was fairly thick from using mass produced tomato juice, and the addition of what I thought was pesto, but apparently was salsa verde, gave it a flavor that was too much like pasta sauce. It was a tad oily from the garnish, so I didn’t want to finish it all. The chorizo was good though!

The SEARious Bloody Mary

6. Winfields Pub
Ingredients – Fresh squeezed tomato, Winfield’s bloody mary spices, house mango shrub, Krista’s Jerkalicious sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce
Garnish – Pickled beets, pickled mustard seed, mint

Winfield’s Pub

Another bloody with mango, this drink was, again, a sweet take on a typically savory drink. Watching them put the drink together, I thought there was cranberry jelly and shredded carrots in it, but apparently it was mango shrub, and pickled beets? I swear it was carrot. It had a good tomato flavor, but it wasn’t for me.

No photo because it was very hard to move around upstairs at this point, and the drink wasn’t particularly visually interesting.

7. Billy Club
Ingredients – Housemade roasted tomato juice, lemon and lime juice, housemade pickled jalapeno brine, Lea & Perrins, pepper, celery salt, Frank’s hot sauce
Garnish – Lemon, housemade pickle

Billy Club

We recently had dinner at Billy Club, and it’s one of the restaurants that I’d call….hipster pretentious. Not to say it wasn’t good, but it is a restaurant that serves lots of small plates, and in the spring will surely offer ramps – WHICH ARE NOT A MEAL – and it really bugs me. Ahem, I’m sorry, long story*. Ok I’m back now. Billy Club ran out of garnishes by the time we got upstairs to give them a try, but by the sound of it, we didn’t miss that much. The drink was very pepper-y and vinegar-y. It wasn’t bad, but it was nothing special.

A 2-fer – Billy Club “Pour Choices” on the left and Colter Bay “What the Weck” on the right

8. Colter Bay
Ingredients – Tomato, olive and pickle juice, beef consumet, horseradish, mustard, Worcestershire, caraway, celery salt, Tabasco, salt and pepper
Garnish – Crouton, horseradish pickle

Colter Bay

The What the Weck bloody had a fennel and salt rim, the ingredients in “weck”, which was a great addition to this drink. It had a super strong horseradish flavor, but it had a weird after taste, maybe the beef consumet? It had too much debris though, it would have been better with a bit less.

9. Pasion
Ingredients – Tomato juice, cucumbers, red pepper, basil, celery salt, Worcestershire, lime, pineapple red wine vinegar, green tabasco, classic tabasco, tapatio, horseradish, salt and pepper, jalapeno, bitters
Garnish – Mini cubanos


Pasion is probably my favorite restaurant in Buffalo right now. It’s a Latin American restaurant, and when we go there, we order so many small plates, we never end up wanting our entree. By the time we were ready to try their bloody, they had a crazy crowd. I doubled up on the above 2, while Jeff waited to get his and J’s sample from Pasion. They had gotten theirs by the time I joined the crowd, and they both said it was worth the wait – they thought it was the best. I was excited! The mini cubano slider was delicious. But with all that build up, the drink ended up being a let down for me. I couldn’t tell why, but seeing the ingredients list, it was probably the evil cucumber. It was a bit fruity, with some spice and a spice rim. It grew on me, the more I drank, but I was sad to conclude that it wasn’t my favorite.

La Sangre de Pasion

10. Sophia’s
Ingredients – Vegetable juice, Frank’s hot sauce, A1 sauce, Worcestershire, olive brine, celery salt, black pepper
Garnish – Lemon, celery, olive, pepperoncini, tabasco (?) onions, bacon

Do you really think they had tobacco onions?

Sophia’s was another one that had a big crowd, so we skipped it to try upstairs, and came back to it at the end. By the time we did so, they were out of bacon. Booo! With a spiced rim, and pretty standard garnishes, Sophia’s was the most classic drink at the Fest. Had we known, we should have started with this, and judged all the variations after, especially J since he was palate training. It was very tomato-y and had a very strong celery flavor.

Sammy’s Simple Bloody Mary

If you got tired of drinking (ha!) this year’s fest featured some fun distractions. 2 local craft party companies were set up – Studio Hue and Buffalo Collective – offering quick crafts for $5: DIY flasks and custom pint glasses respectively. If crafting wasn’t your thing, SPACE brought several pinball machines, all with free plays, and Fabubus mobile spa was set up outside. There were snack tables set up with cheese and fruit, food available for purchase from Riverworks, and a couple vendors including ADK Blood Mary Tonic, which we picked up to review at a later date.

There was no panel of judges this year – so I didn’t get to be one. Instead they opted for public voting on the Tattle app. Unfortunately, none of us could get it to acknowledge that we were, indeed, at the Fest, so we were unable to vote. My votes would have been Lloyd for best, Deep South Taco for best garnish and Rusty Nickel Brewing for most unique. The actual winners were Sophia’s for best, and Deep South Taco for best garnish and most unique.

With the fest held in a larger location, that also allowed for a larger crowd. We intended to go a little later, in hopes to avoid having to wait in long lines for our samples, as last year it thinned out a bit after the first hour. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and we were often stuck in immovable crowds, unable to get a sample, and unable to get to a different restaurant. Riverworks is oddly shaped, so while they tried to put the restaurants back to back to provide crowd movement, it didn’t quite work out. I don’t have a suggestion to make it better, though, either. We skipped Sophia’s our first time around the main floor and headed up stairs because by the looks of the balcony railing, it looked to be empty. Wrong. Upstairs it was worse, as it was an even smaller space, with the same number of restaurants set up – plus the photo “booth” and 2 craft areas (and VIP. Yes, there was a VIP area, but we did not choose that route this time. I’m not sure it would be beneficial, as you still have to wait in long lines to get your samples, and then get back upstairs to a more open area to sample in peace). The crowd didn’t thin out until about 3:30, and by then many of the restaurants had run out of garnishes, and you wouldn’t be getting their best.

All that said, we still had a great time, and enjoyed all the different offerings. By the end, we were a little bloody mary-ed out, so we finished the afternoon with mimosas!

I have more photos from the fest to share, but I’ve been writing this for 2 hours, and I need to get ready for pub trivia!

J, me, and Jeff – Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest 2017

*When we were in NYC for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and got stuck an extra night due to our flight being canceled our group had dinner at a restaurant in Brooklyn. There were 7 of us I believe, and we ordered the entire menu – mainly small plates, one of them being ramps. I didn’t know what ramps were at the time, but I quickly found out, they are not food. A plate with 5 pieces of, essentially, grass, is not a meal! It’s a garnish! It’s what you add to real food to season it! It makes me so angry! The other small plates were at least real food, but no where near enough to feed 7 people satisfactorily.

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.

Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest!!

The day finally came, the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest! If you recall, I was bummed because the event sold out before Christmas and none of my friends bought tickets in time. In the weeks before I had friend after friend begging me to find them tickets, with no such luck. I did have one friend manage to buy one from someone through facebook, so J (our DD since he doesn’t like Bloodies), Jeff and I headed to Shea’s to enjoy a nice Buffalo Sunday.

The Beautiful Shea's Theatre

The Beautiful Shea’s Theatre

A gorgeous Buffalo winter day, good for standing in line.

A gorgeous Buffalo winter day, good for standing in line.

10 bars/restaurants participated in the Fest, offering up their best take on the Bloody Mary and the most creative garnishes. I sampled them all, even the ones I’ve had before at the actual restaurants, but my reviews here are going to be pretty quick. All the drinks featured vodka from local distillery Tommyrotter.

1. CRaVing
Ingredients: Tomato, fennel, beets, horseradish, celery, sriracha, and house vegan worcestershire.
The drink was fairly watery, but was very peppery with a good spice level, though I didn’t detect any horseradish flavor at all. I thought it was pretty good, but unfortunately they lose points for not having any garnish whatsoever.

Hydraulic Hearth bartenders frantically mixing drinks

Hydraulic Hearth bartenders frantically mixing drinks

2. Hydraulic Hearth
Ingredients: Fresh made tomato juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, smoked paprika, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bacon, basil, garlic, pepper, salt, celery seed, red and green tabasco.
A thick, sweet, lemony drink with a smoky almost chipotle taste. It had a very fresh tomato-y taste, and I’m impressed they found such good tomatoes to use in the winter. Garnished with lemon, pickled green bean and bacon, it wasn’t very spicy despite the tabascos listed on the ingredient sign. It was pretty good, if a tad different due to the sweetness level.

Hydraulic Hearth garnish pile

Hydraulic Hearth garnish pile

3. Bar Bill
Ingredients: Bar Bill Bloody mix, pepper, celery, salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, lime, horseradish, Bar Bill hot sauce.
This drink, potentially, had the best garnish – some kind of chicken wing dip fried wonton. I say “potentially” because had it been freshly fried, it would have been excellent. Given that they had to make hundreds of them for a festival, they weren’t as crispy as I imagine they normally would be. The drink itself was suuuuuper salty. I couldn’t drink mine, Jeff liked it though.

Oshun restocked their shrimp!

Oshun restocked their shrimp!

4. Oshun
Ingredients: Lemon and lime juice, fresh horseradish, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, onion, olive brine, celery salt, fresh garlic and hotsauce.
If you remember from my previous review a few weeks ago, I had issues with the fact that they advertise a shrimp garnish on their Bloody, but did not deliver. Well this time, they did! The drink was still as tasty as it was at the restaurant.

5. Trattoria Aroma on Bryant
Ingredients: Tomato juice, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, celery, salt, pepper, horseradish, onion, Worcestershire, beef reduction, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, jerky, ranch aioli, fried onions.
Another Bloody that I’ve had before, but unlike last time which was a midweek night, this seemed to be more like what I expected from them – a fresh made drink, not from a bottle. Garnished with fried onions, it had a very smoky taste, and the pickled jalapeno garnish, which I thought was just a regular pepper before I ate it, provided a giant hit of spice. J and I have been there a few times for dinner, but they are still on my brunch hit list. At this point I became a bit overwhelmed by drinks, as J was making the rounds and picking more and more up for me, so I didn’t end up finishing this one 🙁

Getting overwhelmed

Getting overwhelmed

Cole's line up of Bloodies

Cole’s line up of Bloodies

6. Cole’s
Ingredients: Fresh cucumber, kale, celery, tomatoes, Cole’s Bloody Mary spices, tabasco, Grey Poupon mustard, cilantro, pepper, celery salt, sour mix.
Each restaurant had a sign on their station with their ingredients list, and I must say I did NOT look at this sign before grabbing this bloody from Cole’s, or I would have passed. So many things about this drink that I hate. Cilantro tastes like shampoo to me, and cucumbers are the devil. Blleeeeecccch. Needless to say this one went into the garbage. It did have a nice garnish of celery, shrimp, olive and cheese (and they gave me a free garnish later on when I was walking around taking photos) I’ve had their Bloody late night when I used to get out of work in time on Tuesdays, which were just ok, but I hear good things about Cole’s Bloodies at brunch, so it’s still on my list to visit some weekend.

7. Buffalo Proper
Ingredients: Fresh pressed tomato juice, roasted tomato puree, charred jalapeno, caper berry, horseradish, Worcestershire, tabasco, lemon.
Another bloody I had before, when we went there last year for Lloyd’s brunch. I didn’t mind it, but I’m not sure this offering was the same. It was very different from the others on offer at the Fest. It was very tomato-y and clearly very fresh with lots of pulp. It wasn’t very spicy this time, but perhaps they were going mild for the crowd. Garnished with olive, cucumber (evil!) and a grape, now that they offer their own brunch, it may be time to go back.

The A'ole Pilikia from Ballyhoo

The A’ole Pilikia from Ballyhoo

8. Ballyhoo
Ingredients: Ballyhoo Bloody mix, pineapple, horseradish, habenero, mango hot sauce, Korean BBQ, lime, coco lopez
Called the A’ole pilikia, this is Ballyhoo’s Hawaiian Bloody, and it was the most unusual one of the day. Garnished with pineapple and grilled spam with a spiced rim the drink was very very sweet and pineapple-y. There was a mild amount of spice, even though there was habenero in it. It wasn’t bad, but it was too sweet for me. The reason I started drinking Bloody Marys was because I was tired of having sweet drinks all the time.

9. The Lodge
Ingredients: Tomato juice, lemon and lime juice, olive juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, pepper, horseradish.
Another restaurant we visited for brunch last year, I don’t feel like what they offered today was an accurate representation of the several Bloodies they offer on their menu. Jeff couldn’t stand this one at all, and I didn’t think it was bad, but it had an overwhelming pickle flavor despite pickle juice not being listed as an ingredient (perhaps it was too much olive juice?). It had a “breakfast salt” rim (whatever that is), and a LOT of it. It did, however, feature candied bacon and I took the drink with the largest piece of bacon in it 🙂

Bloodies from Providence Social

Bloodies from Providence Social

10. Providence Social
Ingredients: I don’t know because I must have been nudged when I took a photo of their sign because it is one giant unreadable blurred mess.
Last but not least, Providence Social, which we had visited before and quite liked. Garnished with pickled carrot, onion and cucumber (again!) it had a smoky yet pickle-y tasted to it and good spice level.

Isn't Shea's gorgeous??

Isn’t Shea’s gorgeous??

The first year for any festival is always kind of up in the air – it could be great, it could be a bit of a disaster, especially for an event that ended up more popular than anyone expected. Plus, food and drink events in Buffalo can get a bit overwhelming (see also: Buffalo Soup Fest, which I love, but is always too crowded.) I don’t know how many tickets they sold, or what the capacity of the Shea’s lobby area is, but I was impressed that for the most part, it wasn’t a giant crowded clusterf***. There was such an outpouring of disappointment over the event selling out, but I hope if they have it again next year they don’t go too big with it. It was a nice size, in a gorgeous location (as opposed to the hideous convention center), and it seemed to go off without a hitch. Step Out Buffalo did an excellent job, and we had a great time, although next year I should be a judge!!

(I’m not posting the terrible blurry “photo booth” picture of us haha. Maybe when they post the “official” photo.)

A Bloody Mary with a Saigon Kick

Driving down Elmwood Avenue late the other night, we passed Saigon Cafe at their new location and took note of their big banner advertising Saturday and Sunday brunch. $4 Thai Bloody Mary you say? Gimme! I say.

A few of Saigon Cafe's drink offerings.

A few of Saigon Cafe’s drink offerings.

I first went to Saigon Cafe at their old location on a business lunch in 2003 – a lunch that would see me involved with a non-profit for the next ten years, so I’d say it was a success. I had never had Thai food though and at that time I was a very non-adventurous eater so I was terrified. I can’t remember what I had, some kind of soup, but I remember asking my Thai friend for suggestions on what was “safe” beforehand. Thanks to all my Asian friends, and all their delicious home cooking, I love Asian food now!

Thai Bloody Mary!

Thai Bloody Mary!

Featuring Absolut Peppar vodka, wasabi paste, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili garlic sauce, this is one good bloody mary. I asked for it spicy, and it did not disappoint. Woo boy, I couldn’t tell if my dumplings were spicy or not because I was burned out from my drink. Garnished with your standard 2 olives and a lemon, there was a bit of sweetness to the drink that was really nice. It had a good liquidity and a nice tomato flavor, with no overpowering wasabi taste (though I wouldn’t mind! I only eat sushi for the wasabi). It’s just different enough to make it stand out and make it a drink I’d return for.

Coconut waffles - I was not expecting them to be green.

Coconut waffles – I was not expecting them to be green.

J ordered shrimp fried rice, we sort of split a pork dumpling dish that didn’t seem very dumpling like but it was really good, and I had the coconut waffles. Despite a bit of a delay in my waffles (they kept burning them apparently), overall I’d say it was a good meal and definitely a good Bloody.

Brunch at Providence Social

Bruuuunnnch! Finally! J and I woke up early enough that I was able to convince him to go with me to brunch. It only took 19 weeks of having weekends off to finally make it. I have 3 more weekends left, maaaaaybe I’ll get to another one before going back to overnights.


It took awhile to narrow down the options, but I finally settled on Providence Social. We had been there once before, late night, and I’m pretty sure I had a bloody mary but it was long before this blog was ever thought of and I remember nothing of it. Providence Social was also recently listed on a Best Boozy Brunches in Buffalo list, and it was open later than a few of the other options (because when I say we woke up early, I mean we were going to be ready to leave the house by 1pm at the earliest haha.)

Having never been to a bunch ever in my life, I wasn’t totally aware of how popular it was, and that you should really have reservations if you don’t want to wait. Now we know. They were busy, we waited about 20 minutes to get a table, but it was worth it. They have an interesting menu with many delicious sounding items, which made it hard to decide what I wanted to eat.

IMG_20150426_140752442 copy
(Yes that guy wore sunglasses through the entire meal.)

Served in a pint glass for $8, their bloody mary comes garnished with pickled veggies, including green bean, carrot, jalapeno, red pepper, cauliflower and I think artichoke. The mix had visible horseradish and pepper providing a nice spicy bite which was not overwhelming. There was definitely pickle juice in the mix giving it a really nice flavor with a nice liquidity. One of the better ones in Buffalo for sure.


To eat, J got the bacon belgian waffle, and I went with the dip-n-chicken-n-waffles. It wasn’t completely what I expected, as I expected there to be actual pulled chicken, and not just chicken gravy with some bits in it, but it was still tasty. They also serve complimentary homemade mini muffins and cinnamon twists. Nice. It’s worth another visit, however with a list of other places I need to try, it might be awhile before we return for brunch again.


Merge is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Buffalo with an interesting cocktail menu, as it turns out. I’ve never eaten there, so I can’t comment on the food, and I only discovered the cocktail menu and Bloody Mary when stopping in for a gift certificate, but I was sure glad I found it.

As it turns out, Merge has the best Bloody Mary in Buffalo.


Merge uses a house made mix, made from the bar manager Chris’s recipe, and it’s vegan. What? Bloody Mary’s aren’t vegan? You learn something new every day. I had no idea, but Worcestershire sauce is not vegan, but they use some brand which is, so there you go! The drink included sriracha, with an onion, stuffed olive and celery garnish. It was very spicy with a good tomato taste. It wasn’t too liquid-y and not too thick and ketchup-y. Served in a mason jar, I think it was $9 (we had a coupon, so not sure on the price.)


It was delicious. We don’t go here often/ever because there are so many good restaurants in Buffalo, and we aren’t restricted by being vegan, but we really should, at least just for cocktails.

Let’s start with the first

One fateful night out sometime in early 2012, tired of my standard vodka soda, I needed a new drink. My adult palate unable to handle sweet drinks anymore I had to steer away from the old standard juice and pop drinks, but where was I to go? And there rose the Blood Mary.

Might as well start off with the one that started it all. I believe I was out with Jason and Melissa one Tuesday at Essex Street Pub in Buffalo. Melissa might have even ordered the Bloody Mary first, spurring this whole thing on. It looked good, so I gave it a shot. I know this wasn’t my first one ever, but it has become the most memorable.

I have a bit of a thing for spicy food, so I asked our usual bartender Roxy to spice it up, and she delivered. Since I never anticipated this becoming “a thing” I have no photo to post of this monumental life changing event, and there isn’t really one needed for Roxy’s bloody from Essex St as its appearance is very standard. Your classic pint glass with no fancy garnish, usually just a small lemon or lime wedge if any. At the time Essex was using some sort of store bought Bloody mix but Roxy spiced it up with her own add ins, including Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s Hot Sauce, celery salt, pepper, and horseradish (and maybe a bit of pickle juice if I remember right), making this one of the best Bloodys I’ve ever had, and one of the best in Buffalo (they’ve since changed to plain tomato juice which loses some flavor even with add ins). Even to this day, Roxy’s Bloody remains in my top ten, and is better, by far, than many of the more expensive ones I’ve had, and from more of the fancier snootier places I’ve had them at (just wait til the one I had in NYC!) I have ordered them there with other bartenders, and they have been alright, but different, so I usually only get them with Roxy.

I did end up finding a photo of one of Roxy’s Bloodys from January 2013ish, where we added some pastrami from Jason’s sandwich haha.

Essex Street Pub

Essex has a great menu full of non-typical bar food. Sure you’ll find chicken wings, but they aren’t your usual fried wings, and the rest of the menu is creative finger foods and sandwiches. I recommend the PLT – pastrami lettuce and tomato, but it’s not your usual deli pastrami, it’s thick cut and fried like bacon. So good.

Check them out if you’re in Buffalo