Posts Tagged ‘buffalo’

A 2 Brunch Weekend – Patina 250 and Blu Wolf Bistro

The need to use up the last of the year’s vacation days, and J having weekends off for 6 weeks led to taking a Saturday night off to spend together. That meant 2 days of brunches!

We decided to go to Rochester for the night, but before we left Buffalo, we had brunch number 1 at Patina 250 inside the Westin Hotel. They didn’t list a bloody mary on their brunch menu, and who does that?! With a full bar though, of course, they could make one.

Patina 250 bloody mary

Even though it looks like a pint glass, it wasn’t, and for $11 I felt cheated. It was fairly small and as you can see, not mixed very well. I forgot to ask for it spicy, but arrived with a good amount of heat. The main flavor of the drink was pepper, and a lot of it, with a decent amount of celery salt. It was fairly thick, but after getting it properly mixed up, it was pretty decent.

Simple lemon and olive garnish at Patina 250

We had a fun night out in Rochester, seeing some music and checking out a neat bar called The Spirit Room. The next morning we checked out of the hotel and made our way to Blu Wolf Bistro. I left J in charge of finding us a brunch spot and this was his pick. If it sounds familiar, it’s because they were one of the participants in the Rochester Bloody Mary fest. Their offering was the green bloody mary with the crawfish in it! I was a little scared that their normal brunch bloody would be similar but I didn’t need to fear.

Bloody from Blu Wolf Bistro!

Blu Wolf is a busy brunch place that offers buy one get one Bloody Mary and Mimosas (and you can mix the 2, but you have to pay for the more expensive one, no big deal.) Their menu had a ton of good looking dishes, but we both opted for one of the hangover bowls (it was appropriate ha!)

Nothing staring at me this time!

Their standard bloody mary had a nice horseradish flavor, but wasn’t overly spicy otherwise. And that’s ok, since the drinks are made from a big jug of mix to keep up with demand, and you have to cater to the non-spicy brunch crowd. You could probably ask for added spice, but I only had the one so I can’t say for sure. Garnished with a pickle, olive and lime, it was a good classic offering.

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Step Out Buffalo hosted a Makers and Shakers, Boozy Artisan Market yesterday, which featured unicorn mimosas and a bloody mary bar. It was a $5 entry fee, and then $10 for the drink, so after seeing the super long line I passed. The garnish offerings looked pretty decent, if running low, and I did see some shrimp around in other drinks so it may have been worth if if you loaded up on stuff. Maybe next time!

Roost

I’ve made it back from Ireland, and it was fantastic!!! We spent a week going from Dublin, up to Belfast and Giant’s Causeway, then down the Wild Atlantic Way to Galway. We got to see so much awesome scenery, and cute little pubs, and for me, a cool U2 exhibit in Dublin.

Countryside at Newgrange – Knowth passage tomb – Cliffs of Moher – Dark Hedges – Giant’s Causeway – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Ireland is just a gorgeous country. As soon as you get out of the city it’s all farmland, with sheep and cows everywhere, and then little charming town after charming town. I loved it.

I was only able to have one bloody while there (when in Ireland, you drink Guinness!), at a fabulous place called 37 Dawson St in Dublin.

Irish Bloody!

It had a classic Bloody Mary flavor, with crushed ice on top. Solid. My other attempt at a bloody in Belfast was thwarted by laws that don’t allow alcohol to be served before noon. Boo!

But we’re not here to talk about Ireland, we’re here to catch up on a cocktail from before the big trip, at Roost in Buffalo.

Mural at Roost

We met up with a few friends for a double date at Roost a few weeks before the trip. It’s the end of summer, tomato time, and Roost was offering a special cocktail using their bounty of heirloom tomatoes. I didn’t realize it when I ordered it, but it was a fresh made drink, and not a standard bloody mary made with a house made mix.

At the bar at Roost

We watched the bartender throw tomatoes and ice in a blender and blend away. Talk about fresh! It was a frozen drink, spiced with Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, pepper and lemon, and garnished with a tomato wedge.

Fresh and frozen

Made with tequila, it was delicious! It wasn’t very spicy, but dear lord did it have a lovely refreshing fresh taste. Unfortunately Roost changes their menu every month, and since this was being made with the last of their tomatoes, it won’t be available again until next year.

But never fear! They make a standard bloody as well, which my friend ordered, and reported that it was delicious as well.

Standard bloody at Roost

Check it out at dinner, or their brunch, which I hear is fantastic.

Black Button Distilling and VUE

I have gotten behind again, and I’m about to leave for Ireland (!!), so I’m going to combine 2 drinks into one quick post. First up: Black Button Distilling.

Another pub trivia night brought us to Black Button Distilling, which is based in Rochester NY, but has an “outpost” tasting bar in Buffalo. Upon walking in, I immediately saw their bottled Bold Bloody Mary mix for sale.

BOLD Bloody Mary mix from Black Button Distilling

I wasn’t going to order one, because I didn’t much feel like drinking, but I got one anyway. Using their 20 plate vodka and Bold mix, which was created from the owner’s Grandma’s recipe, this $9 cocktail was a bit sweet with a hint of horseradish.

Black Button Distilling

Garnished with lemon and lime, it had a decent amount of spice to it, but it had a flavor I didn’t love. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I drank it anyway, and decided to look at the ingredient list on the jar, and it turns out there are cucumbers in it. That must have been it! I can’t say it stood out strongly as cucumber but it just gave it a general flavor I didn’t care for. I’m sure it would be tasty to someone without such an aversion to cucumbers as I have.

My Bloody with our buzzer. We did not do well.

If you don’t have time for a cocktail, you can stop in and pick up a jar for $10.

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Up next is VUE, the roof top bar at the just opened Curtiss Hotel. The Curtiss Hotel is in a gorgeous old building that sat vacant for years. Located downtown, the bar has great views of City Hall, the Statler, the Liberty Building among others.

Roof top view at Curtiss Hotel

VUE has 3 bars, and the nicest thing, is that there are roofed areas, that are still open and airy, so you can enjoy the lounge even if it was raining. There is a big fire pit as well as other heaters around for use throughout more of the year, though probably not once the snow starts flying.

We approached the bar looking for a cocktail menu, but they didn’t have one…here is a fancy new bar with no cocktail menu? I know it’s a relatively new lounge, but even the simplest menu of classic cocktails would be something. They’ve been open all summer! That was a bit of a turn off, but they say one is coming.

Since there was no menu, I wasn’t really in the mood for anything, so J just ordered me a bloody.

And here is a bad photo.

It’s hard to photograph a drink, at night, with a cell phone, on a light up bar.

I’m not sure how much it cost, but our order of one bloody and one Basil Hayden’s on the rocks was $27. The drink itself was fairly decent, garnished with 3 olives, and no fruit. It was quite spicy, and very pickle-y, almost too much so. Sipping it caused a bit of mouth puckering haha. There was a lot of debris, including pepper and horseradish, but not so much that it wasn’t enjoyable.

Definitely check out VUE, as it’s a great space to relax in, and get a bloody if you like, but I hope they come up with a cocktail menu soon so I can check out something else.

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I have one more review in the back log, which will have to wait until after Ireland. And hopefully when I return, I’ll have a bunch more to write up. Cheers!

Nietzsche’s and a mix review

I’ve made it to the last of my back log of drinks!

First up – Nietzche’s. Nietzsche’s is a dive bar and music venue on Allen St in Buffalo. We are frequent visitors on Wednesday nights to hear our friend Kathryn Koch play her music, among other nights for music J likes to hear, as they have live music 365! Kathryn and I joke that we are friends because we hate the same things, but Bloody Marys are one thing we both agree on – they are delicious.

In all our visits to Nietzsche’s I never once thought to order a Bloody. Mostly because they are not the type of bar to make one, and I didn’t think they’d have the ingredients. However on this particular night, someone else at the bar asked for one, and I was amazed to see it was something they could make. That meant I had to have one too.

The other reason I never ordered one is the bartenders. Wednesday nights used to have Nancy behind the bar, and while we loved Nancy, she didn’t seem the type to do much more than pour beers and Jack and Cokes. Then one day Nancy wasn’t there anymore, and Dana took over. Dana is a great bartender, someone could be whipping up $12 craft cocktails full of things you’ve never heard of before, and she could be trusted to make me a good Bloody.

If you turn the lights off in Nietzsche’s it doesn’t get much darker

This pint glass drink, garnished with lemon and lime, was fantastic! She was out of some ingredients, so someone from the bar went across the street to get her some spices. The drink was spicy from Worchestershire, citrus-y, and garlic-y, and Kathryn agreed that it tasted the way a Bloody should taste. Dana said she needed dill, but too much might have ruined it a bit for me. It was a great and unexpected cocktail from a bar not particularly famous for mixed drinks.

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We stayed in one night during vacation, and I decided to try the ADK Bloody Mary Tonic that I picked up at the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest a few months ago. They offer a spicy and regular version, and I tried the spicy this time.

My awesome hand painted Bloody Mary glass!

I realize I did not take notes on the mix, as I thought I’d be able to remember how it was. I didn’t think it would take me this long to get around to writing about it. I’ll leave it at this – it is a decent offering for a jarred mix, but nothing super spectacular. I finally got to try my meat straws too (they work!) along with some bacon and spicy green bean garnish. I didn’t find it all that spicy, so when I had it again a few weeks later I jazzed it up with some other hot sauces from the fridge. Give it a try if you see it in a store.

Panorama on 7

Happy Pride Month!! I still have a back log of drinks to review, and I called in sick to work with a migraine so I figure now is a good as time as any to try to catch up. We just finished vacation, again (too soon!), and the Sunday of our vacation was Buffalo Pride. After visiting the party and getting some truck food, we took to the sky to look upon the party from above, at Panorama on 7 inside the Marriott Harborcenter Hotel next to Canalside.

Canalside, Buffalo

Panorama on 7 is full of windows, with a great view of downtown Buffalo from the comfortable plush seats in the lounge area, and from the dining tables on the other side of the room. They have a menu full of cocktails, wine, and bourbons, but they didn’t list a Bloody Mary. J asked the bartender, Kerem, if he had any Bloody skills, and it turns out he used to work at a St Regis, where each location had their own special recipe. If you remember correctly, we visited the King Cole Bar at St Regis in NYC a few years ago and the drink was one of the most overrated I’ve ever had. So I was hoping that this one would redeem St Regis a bit in my eyes.

The Panorama on 7 garnishes.

For $12, Kerem made me a nice and spicy Bloody in a large parfait glass. Garnished with lemon, lime, olive and bacon there was a lot of visible pepper floating around in the drink. It was very spicy without the spice coming from a vinegar based hot sauce. It had a strong tomato flavor, and it was a great traditional tasting Bloody Mary. No gimmicks needed here, but they did have blue cheese stuffed olives available for those interested.

Happy Pride everyone!

A bit later, a woman who appeared to be a bar manager maybe, made me another drink just for fun – A Fruity Pride margarita. Free drink? Yes please!

Fruity Pride Margarita

We’ve been here a few times but have not eaten a meal yet, though on our first visit we had their sponge candy cheesecake, which was delicious. Maybe next time we’ll be hungry!

Thin Man Brewery

I’m so behind! The Kentucky Derby was held during our vacation, and J looked for a party to take his sister and her boyfriend to. He was also looking for an excuse to wear his fancy linen suit! There were a few to choose from but we decided on visiting Thin Man Brewery.

Thin Man is one of the newest breweries to open in Buffalo, and it’s about to celebrate it’s first anniversary. Named after the first crash test dummy, invented in Buffalo (!), Thin Man features a nice pub menu as well as rotating selection of their beers in their 2 story location on Elmwood. There’s a nice patio too.

Kentucky Derby party at Thin Man!

It was not patio weather however (remember, we were on vacation) so we settled in to a table on the 2nd floor in front of their big “screen” projection, drank some mint julips and beer, and played this awesome game we were introduced to at Gypsy Parlor earlier in the week called Suspend. It’s like reverse Jenga, where you have to balance metal rods on a hook until someone runs out of pieces, and if it collapses, you get all the pieces. Trust me, it’s super fun.

It wasn’t until the end of the evening, after the race was run, where I saw someone at another table with a bloody mary. It didn’t even occur to me to ask if they had one! Well, guess that meant we had to stay for another round.

Thin Man beer and Bloody Mary

Garnished with the typical lemon, lime, and olive the drink also came with bacon nubs! Served hot and fresh, these squares of pork belly were nice and crisp, tasty, though I find big chunks of pork belly to be too fatty for me. Overall the drink was good but a bit heavy on the pickle flavor. It wasn’t very spicy, and it may have had a bit of horseradish in it but it was hard to tell. Not a terrible outing, but not mind blowing either.

Bacon nubs

We bet several horses, several ways, online – and lost EVERY SINGLE ONE! But my dress matched one of the TV announcer’s suit.

Derby attire

Taste of Siam

As I said in my last post, we were recently on vacation and for most of our 9 days off we stayed in the Buffalo area. We are *supposed* to be saving up for our big trip in the fall – IRELAND!! I have been to England several times, but never to Ireland, and this will be J’s first trip ever overseas!

I know what you must be thinking: “If it rains during every vacation that you take, why on Earth would you choose to go to someplace where you KNOW it’ll rain every day?!” This is why: In Europe I have amazingly good luck with the weather. Over 4 trips to England, I’ve spent about a month in the London area, and I can only remember 4 days where it rained, and when it did, it didn’t rain all day. That’s less rain than our trip TO THE DESERT 2 years ago, which was only a week long! In my other trips to the European main land, there was one day where it snowed a few flakes in Brussels, and one day it rained in Kiev, and that’s it! So I’m confident we are going to have amazing weather, and our road trips to the Giant’s Causeway and Cliffs of Moher will be full of spectacular lighting for photos, and we won’t be miserable. However, I’m not confident enough to leave the umbrella at home. 🙂

Anyway! We started our stay-cation with dinner at Taste of Siam. I was in the mood for Thai food, and they offer some other stir fry dishes that appealed to J, since he’s not a huge Thai fan, so it seemed like a good choice. I hadn’t been there before, but their social media photos had been looking delicious so I wanted to try a new place. I wasn’t expecting a bloody mary to be on the menu, but they had a series of Sake cocktails, including the Muay Thai Kick.

Muay Thai Kick!

Served in a Tom Collins glass, this cocktail, along with their others, was $5!!!! Score! I’ve gotten so used to paying $10+ for a bloody that this was super refreshing. Bartender Pheany prepared it with Sake, tomato juice, sriracha, Worcestershire, and lemon juice and it was sweet and wine like, from the Sake. Garnished with a salt and cayenne pepper rim, with a Thai pepper floating on top, it was super, super spicy.

It’ll kick you!

It was tasty but almost too sweet from the Sake. It could stand to be cut with something, but since I’m no cook/bartender I’m not sure what – fish sauce? Like Saigon Bangkok used in theirs, maybe? Some people might like the sweet taste, and I wouldn’t mind it, if it just hadn’t been so much. That said, I would definitely drink it again, especially for $5! Plus, the meal was fantastic and just what I wanted.

The Twilight Room

I’ve got 3 drinks to post about, and I’m going to go a bit out of order, starting from the most recent. We’ve had a busy few days, as we are on vacation! And you know what means…it’s cold and rainy!! We are currently on day 5 of 9 and the sun juuuuust started to peek out in the early evening. But despite temps in the 50s and daily rain, we’ve packed in a bunch of activities. J’s sister and her boyfriend came into town for Cinco de Mayo on Friday, and Saturday brought a Kentucky Derby party. But Sunday meant brunch.

Where’s the door?

We slept in a bit, and I didn’t think brunch was going to be an option but I saw The Twilight Room post about their first brunch offering since they opened a few months ago, and lucky for us they decided to make it an All Day Sunday Funday. We visited The Twilight Room over the winter for a co-worker’s going away dinner, and it is a great space. It’s designed as a prohibition speak easy, and you even enter the restaurant through a book case! Inside, it is all exposed brick, and big wooden beams, with some tables on the main floor with the bar, and more seating upstairs.

Upstairs seating at The Twilight Room

Did I mention it was an 80s brunch? It’s an 80s brunch, and I love 80s music, so I’m down with that! Along with their fancy cocktail list, for bunch they offer a bottomless mimosa for $10, a Bloody Caesar for $11, and a Bloody Mary for $12.

The bar

J has gotten into the habit of “pimping” the blog, and giving my card to our server or bartender. Fine with me, because I am too much of an introvert to do my own self promotion. Usually it doesn’t create much stir, but this time the owner Jason, the manager Ben, as well as our server/bartender Dennis came to speak with us about the drink, their current menu and where they are taking the brunch menu. But let’s start with the drink.

The Twilight Bloody

Served in a pint glass, the drink came garnished with celery, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, olive and lemon. I asked for it spicy and turns out they have 2 versions, since not everyone likes horseradish heat, and when Dennis brought it, he offered to bring more horseradish if I didn’t find it hot enough. Spiced with some sriracha as well, it had a good amount of heat, but it was still easy to drink. With pickle juice added for some tang, it was a tasty offering, and I’d definitely order it again.

The current brunch menu featured “small plates”, like the chicken and waffles which I ordered, and the french toast which J chose. The word “small” is misleading, as they were definitely large enough servings for a meal, but you could also order several and share, especially if you were with a larger group. They featured larger dishes like steak and eggs, and eggs benedict. But Ben showed us the expanded menu they are working on, including many of the current items, but also adding pastries and other baked goods (which would have been nice to add to our meal), and some of their regular menu items like salad as a lighter option, and burgers for someone who might not want breakfast foods. One of the items to come was a brulee oatmeal which sounds amazing.

Another view of upstairs

The chicken and waffles were great, with 3 plump pieces of fried chicken on 3 wedges of waffle, served with a boozy bourbon maple syrup. J’s french toast came with 2 large pieces covered in blackberry sauce and whipped cream. They toast was also coated with some corn flakes, which sounds odd, but added a great crunch to a dish that can sometimes just be mushy. Ben ended up talking us into pancake battered chicken sausages too – think corn dogs. They came with a terrific chipotle maple syrup that complimented them perfectly.

Working nights, I liked the idea to run the brunch menu the entire day, since it allows me a little more time to get up and out of the house. I like the feel of the place, and definitely look forward to returning to try the expanded menu, and of course, drink more bloody marys!

Angelica Tea Room

Once upon a time in Buffalo, there were goth bars. The old school Continental closed, but Club Diablo filled that void, and I loved it. It was dark, had drinks with fun names like Jim Jones Kool-aid, played music I loved, and was full of the type of people I want to hang out with. I felt comfortable and accepted there, even though no one would go out of their way to call me “a goth”. And then it too closed, leaving a giant platform boot sized hole in “the scene”.

The former Club Diablo space remained empty for years. At one point it appeared to be set to reopen as Impact ultra lounge, but I don’t know if it ever did. Then a new sign appeared on the building – Angelica Tea Room. With no other information, one could only assume it was, indeed, going to be a tea room. Maybe some breakfast, or a lunch spot for downtown employees. I was game, I like tea. But surprise! It’s a bar!

Angelica Tea Room

The long narrow bar has been completely redone, and it leaves no trace of the old Diablo. From black walls to white, from devil and flame decorations to tropical wallpaper and fancy glassware. It feels classy, it feels English.

What is this brightness?!

Upon sitting down we were brought tea cups of complimentary house punch. While it is a bar, with a menu full of classic drinks (but no descriptions…our waitress was happy to explain what they all were, but I bet they will get tired of that eventually), they do actually have tea, and they offer a selection of tea sandwiches and snacks. I didn’t really look at the menu in detail, as J immediately noticed they had a Bloody Mary so my decision was already made.

Angelica Bloody Mary

Isn’t that pretty? The $10 cocktail featured a house made mix by Rachel (owner? manager?), who was sitting next to us at the bar, mixed up by bartender Jason. Garnished with basil, a cocktail onion, olive and piped cucumber, it had a good, fresh, tomato-y taste. It was very, very spicy, without any vinegar-y taste and Rachel asked if I thought it was too much. Not for me, but perhaps for some other weaklings it would be. It was easy to drink, with no real standout flavor – like horseradish, or pickle juice – to take away from the base of the cocktail. Seeing the cucumber, I was initially afraid the drink would taste of cukes, but thankfully it didn’t. And of course, if you want it to, you can always eat the garnish.

I was told that it’s called “piped cucumber”.

As a whole, I liked Angelica Tea Room. It had a good atmosphere with music that wasn’t overbearing, in a style I don’t hate (which, of course, could change). It felt comfortable, and I’d definitely return to explore more of the menu. J didn’t seem sold on it, but I’m not sure why. It’s classy and a little fancy, definitely not a dive bar, and different from all the other craft cocktail bars in the area. Different is good!

The bar!

One thing to note before you go, they don’t want their bar to be over crowded, so if there are no seats at the bar, you’ll have to wait. There are 2 top tables along the long side, and some larger tables in the back, but that’s it. We scored the last 2 seats at the bar and it was nice not to have people reaching over us the whole time ordering drinks, or bumping into me and invading my personal space. But some may find that having to wait for a seat to open up to be allowed in to be strange and off-putting. Personally, I liked it, and perhaps that’s why I found it to be comfortable.

Dinosaur BBQ

For years and years the people of New York have raved about Dinosaur BBQ. Visitors to the cities along the interstate brought stories of the wonderful amazing Dinosaur BBQ, yet Buffalo, NY’s 2nd largest city, did not have a Dino. To experience the Dino, you had to get on the road, and stop at the closest Dino location in Rochester. People made special detours to eat at a Dino. The Dinosaur BBQ myth became as big as actual dinosaurs!

I like BBQ but I’ve decided it’s not my favourite, and I am not a good judge of what is or isn’t “good BBQ”. I’ve had Dino in Rochester, yeah, it’s good, I guess. It’s BBQ! To me it’s all the same. So when Buffalo did finally get a Dinosaur BBQ location in 2014, I was not one of the crazy people lining up for hours to get that in my belly. Since opening, I have gone a few times, most recently for a Geeks Who Drink trivia night.

Buffalo’s Dino opened in the theater district, in a former Universal Pictures vault, where they stored films. The restaurant is decorated rustically, but also with an homage to the building’s former use, with movie posters and props. The biggest disappointment about Dinosaur BBQ is that they don’t serve you a giant rack of ribs while you wait in your foot powered, stone car.

But I digress! We had already eaten dinner, so we only had drinks while we played trivia, and of course I went for their Bloody Mary.

*Velociraptor screech*…*T-rex roar*

The drink is served in a smaller glass, with a smoky spiced rim, and your standard lemon and olive garnish. The rim was really the best part of this pretty standard bloody. Spiced with Frank’s hot sauce, it had the vinegar taste you’d expect, plus maybe a little pickle juice as well. There wasn’t anything really special about it, so I added their Wango Tango habanero BBQ sauce.

Like most of the Bloodies I’ve had at BBQ restaurants I always expect something more, so they all end up slightly disappointing. There wasn’t anything wrong with the drink, it just doesn’t go far enough. Stick a rib in there (I don’t even like ribs!), or add your BBQ sauce, or other smoky additions. Skewer up some other BBQ meats, bacon, anything to set it apart from your plain old Bloody Mary.

Ah well. 14 teams were playing that night, the 2 of us reached as high as 6th before 2 disastrous final rounds, and finished 11th. Boo!! J did win a bonus question free drink though! Hurrah!

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