Posts Tagged ‘disappointing’

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.

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.

Landing at the Black Sheep

Vacation time again, and due to work issues coming up, it was another staycation. We managed to avoid the rain that usually plagues our vacations, and packed in a whole ton of events into 5 days off, including 2 brunches…well almost. It was fun but I am wiped out and I vowed not to leave the house today so I could have time to recover from having to be social for so many days in a row haha!

Saturday was the most event packed day, as tons of things were going on in Buffalo, and we were forced to narrow it down to just a few. But it was also the only weekend day that had some time in it for brunch, in between Art Alive at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, and the grand opening party for 12 Gates Brewery, so I made reservations at Templeton Landing.

They advertised Toasty Saturdays from 11am to 3pm on their facebook page, with bottomless mimosas, and brunch specials, plus this, from last year:

“Templeton Landing’s Colossal Blood Mary’s! As the cart rolled up, we chose between regular or spicy flavor and proceeded to add additional ingredients of our choosing. Being a Bloody Mary novice, I deferred to their best judgment and opted for the standard celery stick, a piece of shrimp, some peppers for color, a stick of savory bacon before finally topping it off with a slider. That’s right. There was a full-on hamburger in my drink and it was fantastic! Hands down of the best Bloody Mary’s we’ve ever had.”

Buffalo Dandy's Templeton Landing bloody mary, off a create your own cart....

Buffalo Dandy’s Templeton Landing bloody mary, off a create your own cart….

You can find a whole bunch of other photos of Templeton bloodys on google, plus a recent shout out about their Bloody from Step Out Buffalo, so needless to say, I’ve been excited to finally get one for myself (Templeton is seasonal, so this is really the first chance I’ve had to go).

Well we get there, and are seated on the patio. The restaurant is right on the waterfront, with a great view of the marina and it was the perfect day for being outside. But we get the menu, and it’s not brunch. It was not even 2pm yet, what happened to Toasty Saturday?? I ordered a bloody anyway, and J ordered a mimosa even though neither one was on their cocktail menu, and the mimosa was definitely not bottomless.

Not exactly what I was looking for

Not exactly what I was looking for

Served in a pint glass for $8.50, this wasn’t exactly what I was looking for when I picked Templeton Landing for brunch. It was basically pure tomato juice with some hot sauce in it. Boring old lemon, lime and olive garnish brought nothing special to the drink. No other visible additives, and very thick, it was also very salty, maybe from some kind of brine. It was an epic disappointment to say the least, but with that said, it also wasn’t the worst Bloody I’ve ever had. It wasn’t the thickest, and it wasn’t the least flavorful, it was just so plain, and so not what I wanted, it ruined the whole experience.

I ordered the turkey club, and it was fine but…not what I wanted!! I don’t know what the deal was with it not being brunch, and about the bloody being un-epic, but I’m willing to try again when I know FOR SURE that it’s brunch.

Sunday came around and we were supposed to get up and go to the Pride Parade, but we slept too late, which opened up a whole new possibility for brunch. Since Saturday’s was so disappointing I wanted to make sure I got to a good one, so I picked The Black Sheep.

The Black Sheep had recently been mentioned in another Step Out Buffalo article, about brunch cocktails, for their special off-menu Kimchi Bloody Mary so it was fresh in my mind. Luckily for me, they have since added it to their regular menu and I didn’t have to beg!

Kimchi Bloody Mary at The Black Sheep

Kimchi Bloody Mary at The Black Sheep

Served in a fairly small glass for $10 the Kimchi bloody is made from mix created by Buffalo Barrel + Brine, a new local pickle maker. Garnished with lime and a pickle slice, with a spiced rim, the mix was definitely pickle-y, but not overwhelmingly so. There was a lot of floating debris of some type (kimchi?), but it wasn’t super spicy – just a tickle. It was very fresh tasting, and very good, and as it turned out, there was a full pickle spear hiding in the drink!

J ordered a beer which ended up coming in a gigantic bottle, so I had to order another drink for myself, and I went with their regular bloody mary, also made with mix from Barrel + Brine (no photo because basically it looked the same). The regular bloody mary was $9, garnished with lime, the pickle slice, and this time celery. There was a TON of visible debris in the drink (it was clogging up my little straw), and it was much, much spicier than the Kimchi Mary. However there was also way WAY more pickle flavor – too much so. It was like drinking the brine right out of a pickle jar.

Some advice to pickle companies making Bloody Mary mix – turn it down a notch. Some pickle flavor in a bloody is a welcome addition, but that shouldn’t be the only flavor.

Both drinks were good, but I’d go with the Kimchi Mary all day long, perhaps with a bit more spice added to it. I do wish they were a bit larger though, for the price.

I ordered the breakfast pierogies, which was delicious, so Sunday’s brunch redeemed Saturday’s, but be prepared, The Black Sheep is a bit expensive (our brunch bill was more expensive than our fancy tapas at Aro de Tapas the night before, and that’s without the Game of Scones we ordered because the waitress forgot it, which just seems wrong.) (Also, Aro de Tapas = really really delicious.)

I let a friend of a friend in Toronto use my address to have a package shipped more cheaply, and to thank me when they picked it up, they brought me a 4 pack of these:

Bottled Caesars!?!?

Bottled Caesars!?!?

I’m a little scared, and a little intrigued.

King Cole Bar

And this brings us to New York City. We took an overnight trip to NYC to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the greatest rock opera ever made, on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris, and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to have a few good Bloody Marys. So I hit the internet to find a “best of” list for the Big Apple. Unbeknownst to me, there is a bar in Manhattan that claims to have invented the Bloody Mary – King Cole Bar.

From their website – “In 1934 St Regis bartender Fernand Petiot introduced the “Red Snapper”, which was soon to be known as the Bloody Mary. Petiot began working on the vodka and tomato juice cocktail in Paris in the late 1920s before coming to the St Regis New York. The famed cocktail as we know it was created when Serge Obolensky, a well known man about town, asked Petiot to make the vodka cocktail he had in Paris. The formula was spiced up with salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire sauce, but since “Bloody Mary” was deemed too vulgar for the hotel’s elegant King Cole Bar, it was rechristened the “Red Snapper”. While the name might not have caught on, the spicy drink most certainly did and over the years it has become the signature cocktail of the King Cole Bar. We are pleased to present our World Collection of St Regis Signature Bloody Mary Blends celebrating the regional influences of the original recipe created by Fernand Petiot. All are prepared with the freshest homemade mixes, and each salutes tradition with its own unique twist.”

With limited time in the city, we couldn’t hit up the vast number of places offering delicious Bloodys, but it turns out the King Cole Bar was on our walk from the apartment we rented to the theatre, so we had to stop in. Even though the reviews warned that you were going to pay for the history behind the drink, and I was aware that this *is* Manhattan after all, I felt like I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to have a Bloody Mary where it all began.

The bar was very busy and we almost walked out since there was no place to sit, or even stand, but somehow the waiters found us a tiny table and 6 chairs to jam us into a corner, despite us looking like glam rock freaks among all the suits having cocktails on the way home from work. (Hedwig *is* a rock opera if you didn’t catch that part.)

So…the Bloody.


There it is in all it’s glory…A Bloody Mary…in a wine glass…with only a lemon for garnish…for $25. Twenty Five Dollars. In a wine glass. Did you miss the price. $25.

Ok fine. Like I said, it’s Manhattan, there is a history behind it, though it was far too busy to get the history, I understand you pay a premium. But for 25 damn dollars I want a Bloody Mary that is a bit bigger than freaking wine glass. The only saving grace is that it came with a bowl of wasabi peas (and almonds, not pictured). For $25 I was eating all the wasabi peas, which we did, and they brought a 2nd bowl, which came home with us in my purse.

The taste you ask! Was it the most mind blowing amazing Bloody Mary I’ve ever had? Did the taste wipe away the bad taste that came with the price? Was the first the best? No. At best it was average. I asked for it spicy, and my notes say it was, but it came with an overwhelming taste of celery which I’m not fond of.

If I was going to make a list of the most overrated Bloody Marys I’ve ever had this would surely be at the top. If you are a sucker for history, sure, take a trip to King Cole Bar and order the Red Snapper, but if you are truly looking for only the best tasting, or most creative garnishes, give this one a big old pass.

For fun, here’s the rest of our bill


Fat Bob’s

Fat Bob’s is a great bbq smoke house in Buffalo, in a little one way alley, with a nice patio in the summer. I had a Bloody Mary here once before that wasn’t great, but I was tempted to try it again now that I was going to write the blog.


They use a house made mix, and of course I asked for it spicy, but it was hardly spicy at all. There was definitely horseradish in it, and that nose spiciness that comes from horseradish and wasabi, but none of that capsaicin tongue spiciness from peppers or hot sauce. It was more liquid-y than most and fairly bland, all things considered. It has a good base flavor though, it seems like a good thing to expand upon. Like add bbq sauce or something, given that it’s a bbq restaurant after all. If I hadn’t asked for it spicy, with the horseradish, it would have just been watery tomato juice. $9. It was still fairly disappointing.


Mothers is an upscale restaurant, that for some reason plays loud club music at night and appeals to a young douchy crowd. Or at least that’s how it seems from the few times I’ve tried to go there. They serve food late though, so we’ve gone a few times intending to eat, but the atmosphere has been a turn off so we’ve never stayed long. It’s one of these places that has a reputation of serving good food and drink, so I had high expectations for the Bloody Mary I ordered.


Served in a Collins glass, for $6, the drink was disappointing. I tend not to ask the bartenders for details on how they make their drinks, so my reviews are just based on what I think I can taste, and admittedly I am not a foodie or any kind of connoisseur. Just remember that.

The drink was basically tomato juice with Worcestershire sauce and probably spiced with Frank’s (which as far as hot sauces go, I don’t care for). The spice level was minor, not what I prefer, and only garnished with lemon and lime. There was absolutely nothing special about it, and got big enough for the price.

I realize drinks like this will vary by bartender so I shouldn’t be completely biased to Mothers. But given that I don’t particularly like Mothers in general, I see no reason to try it again.