Saturday, March 31, 2012

Restaurant Week Recap #3 - Parings Wine Bar in Williamsville

For my third adventure during Restaurant Week I went to Parings Wine Bar on Main Street in Williamsville with two of my best friends from high school Mel and Kristy. We had a reservation for 6pm, but I was running early and pulled into the parking lot around 5:45pm. I was immediately greeted with a tiny parking lot, and only saw two available spaces for the three of us to park in. Luckily someone was leaving right when Mel pulled in and we were all able to park without hassle.

As a random side bar, girls nights absolutely rock. There's nothing better than catching up with your best friends, especially when you haven't seen them in a few months. If you haven't spent time with your friends lately, give them a call and plan a night. I know schedules are crazy, but it's time well spent.

Alright, so Parings. When we walked inside Parings, we felt like we were walking into our Grandma's houses. You immediately come upon stairs that lead upstairs and a room to your right. We had no clue where to go. There was no one anywhere around us, and no one greeted us. One of the waitresses walked out from a room down a hall and pointed through the doors to the right. We made our way in, still no clear hostess station, and someone finally directed us to a table.

The only way I can really describe the restaurant is like this: Pretend you take everything out of your house, and all you have left are the walls. Then fill it with small cafe style tables and chairs, some couches and fake trees and plants and that is Parings. They do also have a decent sized bar, but it felt awkward in the space. The flow of the restaurant layout was extremely odd to me and my friends. It is broken up into a few rooms, that each have a handful of tables in it, with a few high rise tables here and there. Some of the couches serve as one seat at a four seat table, and the couches, all different, were not my style. The walls were painted a pink color with floral curtains. I asked my friends during the meal how they would describe the style and Kristy said, "Umm, I guess homey? You can quote me in your blog too."

We were seated in the far back room (there were four tables in our area), and no one else was back there with us so we felt comfortable and had plenty of room. Our waitress handed us the menus and explained their restaurant week menus to us and gave us some time to look it over. One thing I noticed immediately was that there were no glasses on the table for water, and we weren't asked if we wanted any. I typically always, even with a glass of wine, want water too. There was also no bread service.

For the first time in the history of eating out (at least for me) all three of us ordered the exact same meal from the wine, to the appetizer to the entree. We all started off with a glass of Riesling which was great. They do have an extensive wine list, but I'd expect that from a wine bar. As our appetizer, we ordered the coconut shrimp (one of my favorite things in the world) and it was absolutely delicious. The spicy sauce it came with was right on the mark, and the shrimp was cooked perfectly.

For our entree we chose the Bacon Lobster Mac & Cheese, which is an award winner for the restaurant and it absolutely delivered. Sometimes with restaurant week, chefs give you a smaller portion size, but this dish was huge! We all took half of our meals home. There was a generous amount of lobster in mine, which impressed me, and it was so delicious and tender. The cheese sauce was phenomenal and the bacon pieces on top were a great addition. Although, a few bites into the meal, Mel pointed out we were all going to hell eating meat on Friday.

The food really redeemed the restaurant for me, and I happily enjoyed my leftovers, which still tasted as delicious. Overall, I had a great night, but I think it had more to do with the company than the atmosphere of the restaurant. The meals we had really were delicious, and I would definitely go back for the lobster mac and cheese (which normally costs $17).

Parings is a relatively new restaurant that opened in 2010. They are definitely on the right track with the food, but I think the space itself needs some work. Maybe it just wasn't my style, but I felt like it was just all thrown together with whatever they could find.

The address for Parings is 5893 Main Street (right next door to Milo's Restaurant), and they are open Monday - Saturday for dinner (they open at 3pm) and late night drinks. If you want to make reservations you can call (716) 630-5951.

For more reviews on Parings Wine Bar, check out:

Parings Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 30, 2012

Restaurant Week Recap #2 - Oliver's Restaurant in Buffalo

Oliver's has always been a mysterious restaurant to me. When I lived in Kenmore, I drove past the small black building on Delaware Avenue so many times wondering what it looked like on the inside, and how the food was. I knew the food was expensive (and to be honest, out of my price range on most nights), so that's why I never tried it before. But along came Restaurant Week, and I finally decided to go! It was a date night with my boyfriend Geoffrey, and we had a reservation for 7pm on Thursday (3/29).

When we arrived the parking lot was completely packed, offering Valet service, so we found a spot on the street. The valet parkers greeted us as we walked through the parking lot and in we went!

When you walk in, there is a small foyer area with a coat check and doors to the restaurant on the right. Once you walk in you are greeted by a gorgeous grand piano and a big bar area that was fully stocked.  The walls and decor are dark (greyish walls and black leather chairs) but it surprisingly is not very dark inside. As we were seated, I felt like I stepped into a 1920's lounge, and I suddenly wished I wore a sparkly dress and Geoffrey had on a fedora. It has a very classy and sophisticated look and as I scanned the crowd, my boyfriend and I were easily the youngest in our area (if not the whole restaurant).

I have to admit, I was surprised by the inside of the restaurant (after frequenting the other restaurants owned by the same people), and while I'll admit it wasn't totally my "style", I felt thankful and lucky that Buffalo has a place like this.

Our server promptly came over to say hello and fill our water glasses, and we asked for a wine list. Wow! What a wine list! It has to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest selection of wines I've seen. Since my boyfriend and I differ on our wine choices we decided to each get our own glass as opposed to a bottle. The wine list by the glass is considerably smaller, but still a good variety. A typical glass of wine costs between $8 - $10.

The only menu we were given, and I am wondering if it was because we looked out of place, was the menu for Restaurant Week. We had already looked it over a million times at home with our mouths watering, so we ordered our dishes along with a spinach loaf.

To say the bread was great would be an understatement. I could have eaten four more loaves of it! The spinach was cooked perfectly and mixed in with lots of butter and spices. It started off our meal perfectly. My first course was the lobster bisque and it was delicious. My only gripe was that there were too many scallions on the top as a garnish. For me, it took away from the bisque a little bit. Geoffrey had the soft polenta and ricotta rapini, cappicola, olive and sweet pepper. The presentation of the dish was absolutely stunning and I felt like I was judging a plate from the finale of Top Chef. The polenta was delicious and the whole combination of flavors was absolutely outstanding. I was happy for my foodie boyfriend, and could tell he was in food heaven.

For my second course I ordered the baked scallop and shrimp cannelloni artichoke, leek, fennel, tomato-sherry sauce and Chervil salad. The presentation again was beautiful and the dish tasted even better than it looked. I loved the filling of the pasta, and the pasta was cooked to perfection. Geoffrey ordered the duck leg confit risotto butternut squash, chicory, cherries, chilies & marscapone. My boyfriend took one bite of it, and when he looked up I thought he was lovingly looking into my eyes, but it was the risotto. I think he said during the course of the meal how much he loved it ten times, and was still talking about it when we drove home, went to bed, and woke up. I have to admit though, it was pretty outstanding. Having had risotto the night before at Prime 490, and loving that, it didn't even compare.

The food at Oliver's is in a class of its own, and I was ecstatic I finally had the pleasure of trying it. While I can say I don't think I'll be dining there again (mostly for financial reasons right now), Restaurant Week gave me the chance to try it out and share my experience with all of you. As I age, and hopefully have more expendable money, it would be a perfect night out to celebrate something special.

If you are wondering about typical prices at Oliver's, their specialties normally run between $31-$41. They have small plates from the range of $12-$25 and appetizers are between $9-$15. The prices are high, but the quality, presentation and taste of the food is worth it. Trust me.

There's still a few days left this week to get out on the town and eat local. If you can, please do!

For more reviews on Oliver's check out:

Oliver's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Restaurant Week Recap #1 - Prime 490 in Buffalo

PLEASE NOTE: Prime 490 has CLOSED since this post was written. 

It only comes around twice a year, but for those two weeks, I'm in food heaven!!! I'm talking about WNY Restaurant Week, which started March 26th and goes until April 1st. Local restaurants offer a three course meal for $20.12 and give people the chance to explore over 100 local restaurants.

It's always hard deciding which restaurants to visit since I have a ton of places I love to frequent, but I always end up trying places I've never been to before. Prime 490 was one we tried to get into last year for Restaurant Week but the reservation slots didn't match up with our free time, so we missed out. I called a good two weeks in advance to make sure we'd get the time slot we wanted and we went Wednesday (3/28) evening. Our party of four was promptly seated in a nice U shaped booth and our waiter quickly came over to say hi and let us get situated.

Before I go on, I just want to give a shout out to local waiters, waitresses, hosts, bartenders, managers and owners. If I worked in a restaurant, I'd absolutely HATE restaurant week, and you could tell that some of the waiters (which we noticed at Prime 490, it was all waiters), were a little stressed. If you go out during Restaurant Week, cut these people some slack! They are offering you a ridiculously cheap meal, with more people than they are used to. Make sure you tip them well too!!

The atmosphere at Prime 490 is wonderful. It has upscale decor, without feeling snooty or over the top. The bold and colorful abstract artwork on the walls really give it a warm feel, and I think by the end of the meal I was calling it, "Upscale Buffalo". That's the thing about Buffalo, the city rocks, but we don't go over the top to show ourselves off, or have a "we're better than you" attitude. I felt extremely comfortable and like I fit in at Prime 490. I really loved the artwork and we all were commenting on it throughout the night. The hand blown glass lighting fixtures (also in bold colors) were absolutely gorgeous and a nice touch above our booth. There is ample seating in the restaurant and a good mix of tables, smaller booths and the bigger U shaped booths.

As part of Prime 490's menu for Restaurant Week, you were given a glass of wine to start your meal, followed by a salad and an entree. For the wine, we were offered either a glass of Chardonnay or a glass of Cabernet. Our party was really impressed with the wine, and you could tell they really spent time picking out the right wine to start off the meal. I had the Chardonnay, and while I'm typically not a huge fan of it, I really enjoyed this glass.

They had about 8 options for different entrees that included steak, pork, fish, pasta and shrimp. It really had something for everyone. Our table ordered the 12 oz. strip steak (served with potatoes and asparagus), the Char Siu Pork Tenderloin (Asian barbeque grilled pork tenderloin served with rice and asparagus), the Penne Ala Leonard (shrimp with plum tomatoes, red onion, sweet basil, garlic, asiago cheese, white wine & virgin olive oil), and I had the Shrimp Scampi Risotto. We also started the meal off with an appetizer of fried calamari, and while I'm not a huge fan of it, the people in our party who are, said it was outstanding.

I can honestly say that all of us absolutely loved our meals, and we tried each others and all agreed the food was great. My shrimp scampi risotto was delicious, and I really enjoyed the addition of some vegetables (onion and peppers) to the risotto. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the seasoning of the whole dish was right on. The pork tenderloin with the Asian barbeque was absolutely delicious, and the portion size was huge! We all had some at our table and there was enough leftover to take home for another meal! The strip steak was cooked exactly like my boyfriend wanted it, and the potatoes and asparagus were seasoned well. The pasta dish was rich, but lighter than we all thought and absolutely delicious.

Above and beyond trying awesome local Buffalo food, I love Restaurant Week because it brings friends and family together. Life is crazy busy, everyone has conflicting schedules, but Restaurant Week is a great excuse to get together! It's a wonderful showcase of restaurants for local owners and it really made me so excited to see a completely packed house with a waiting list on a Wednesday evening.

Prime 490 is located in the City on Rhode Island Street, plopped down in a residential area near another restaurant, Left Bank. There is a parking lot across the street with ample parking and they are open Tuesday - Saturday from 5pm until 1am or 2am (2am on Friday/Saturday). To make reservations you can call (716) 882-3328.

If you are reading this and it is still Restaurant Week (March 26 - April 1), I encourage you to get out for dinner one night and try something new and local! It's a deal you cannot beat! Happy eating!



For more reviews on Prime 490, check out:

Prime 490 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Buffalo Festival Dates 2012

Here are some of the Buffalo 2012 Festival dates to get you excited for the summer :)


Allentown Art Festival: June 9th & 10th

Buffalo Citybration: June 21st - 24

Taste of Buffalo: July 7th & 8th

Old Homes Days in Williamsville: July 10th - 13th

Italian Festival: July 12th - 15th

Canal Festival: July 15th - 22nd

Niagara County Fair: August 1st - August 5th

Taste of Williamsville: August 5th 

Erie County Fair: August 8th - 19th


Buffalo Wing Festival: September 1st & 2nd


PLEASE NOTE: We will add more to the list as we find out about them!!!

Looking forward to the announcement of all the summer concerts!! We will update as soon as we hear any news.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Le Metro in Williamsville

PLEASE NOTE: Le Metro has CLOSED since this blog was published

I went to Le Metro for the first time a few Thursdays back with my boyfriend and one of his friends for dinner. We, of course, used a Buffalo dining card and I was excited to try this place out. Although I'm sure that reading "I'm excited to try a new place" is getting kinda old now, it's honestly the truth. I get really giddy when I try new places, and my co-workers can tell you that if I'm going out to a new place that night I talk about it most of the day, always investigate it prior to visiting, and tweet and Facebook about it too!

Le Metro is a French bistro located in the Tony Walker plaza on Main Street in Williamsville. They offer a variety of dishes including pastas, salads, seafood, pizzas, pho, sandwiches and more. When I saw the word pho, I had no clue what it was, but thanks to the menu, it clearly described the Vietnamese noodle soup which sounded interesting although to me (and I'm definitely not a "foodie") seemed out of place on the menu.

The atmosphere inside was very comfortable and somewhat upscale, but without any kind of stuffy feel. The decor was cute, and the variety of art on the walls was fun. We were seated in a half booth, I got the booth side, and it was very comfortable. We were promptly seated and our service throughout the night was good.

To be honest, when I looked up the menu online, nothing really shot out at me but the french steak sandwich (grilled flat iron steak, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, sauteed spinach and gruyere. It was served with French fries for $16) . I'm not typically a steak sandwich kinda girl, and I didn't want to blog about a steak sandwich, but this one sounded great, so I went with my gut and ordered it. My boyfriend had the Pasta Arrabiatta (penne, prosciutto, red pepper flakes, vodka-tomato sauce for $15). The other guest in our party also had the french steak sandwich.

We ordered the pull apart bruschetta and the French Onion wontons and some wine to start off the meal and while anything with bread makes me happy, I didn't fall in love with the bruschetta, but the wontons were great (like French Onion soup!).

The flow of the meal worked well and my steak sandwich tasted just as good as it sounded. The steak was cooked perfectly to my liking (medium) and the combination of all the flavors really hit the spot. The fries were great too, and I was glad I ordered it. My boyfriend couldn't stop "mming" and he absolutely loved his pasta dish (I had a bite too and it was really good!). All three of us were really happy with our meals!

The only real gripe of the night, and this is being awfully nit-picky, (and take into account I could finish off an entire baguette myself in one sitting), they didn't bring you a basket of bread, but you were brought one slice of bread. I can easily go through the basket myself in any other restaurant, but I suppose, healthy eating wise, it was good there wasn't a basket of bread there (especially with the bruschetta).

Overall, the restaurant was reasonably priced for the meals we ate, had a comfortable and fun atmosphere for catching up with friends and I'd suggest it if you haven't been there yet and are looking for something new. Plus, with a tagline of "Buffalo Born. Buffalo Bread." how can this Buffalover not appreciate them?

They open daily at 11am for lunch and are open Monday - Thursday until 10pm, Friday and Saturday until 11pm and Sundays until 9pm. To make a reservation you can call, 631-2725.

For more reviews on Le Metro, check out:

Le Metro Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brian Nesline and Faces of Buffalo

About five years ago I was introduced to Brian Nesline, who came up with the idea for Faces of Buffalo and ran with it, despite being turned down for a grant proposal he submitted to Buffalo State College. Before I get to that though, I need to back up a bit! Brian came to Buffalo on a leap of faith in his early 30’s to attend Buffalo State College and earn his BFA in Communication Design. He appreciated the fact that the city of Buffalo truly valued the arts and with a low cost of living, he knew it would be a good fit to let his creative juices flow.

After taking a class at Buffalo State called Introduction to Creative Studies, he came up with the idea for Faces of Buffalo and entered it into their summer grant contest for creative research projects. As I previously stated, his grant proposal was turned down citing, “it was too ambitious for the students’ skills at this time”, but Brian didn’t let that stop him. He thought, “I’m going to do it anyway!” After graduating he made his dream of being an artist reality an unveiled the first set of mosaic prints in 2003.

The project was an instant success, validating all the hard work and risk Brian took continuing with the project after it was initially shot down by the grant team. When I talked to Brian about his drive to make it a reality he said, “They were right to turn me down. The skill I lacked was faith. Their decision put me in the best position to develop this vital skill, and for that I am forever grateful.” Brian’s mosaics have been featured in galleries throughout the area and been showcased at the Buffalo Home & Garden show and inside The Buffalo International Airport.

If you are not familiar with Faces of Buffalo, it is one of the coolest art projects I’ve seen in the city. Brian goes around to various community events with blank portrait forms and gives residents of Buffalo (and the surrounding areas) the chance to draw their self portrait. Once complete, the portraits are put into a pile, and Brian’s creative genius goes to work! In the end, each self portrait is shrunk down and mosaic drawings of Buffalo architecture, flowers, sports, etc…are created. Typically, new mosaics are released once a year, and anyone who submitted a portrait is e-mailed (as long as they put their e-mail on their portrait when it is turned in) which mosaic drawing your portrait is in.

What makes this project even more awesome is that it is the first of its kind, another great project that stemmed from Buffalo. It allows people the freedom to “be a kid again” using crayons and pencils to hand draw their self portrait. Above that it gives the people living in the city a “Face” and the opportunity to all come together to create art!

More recently, Brian has ventured out to different communities to create the mosaics, and is looking to expand the “Faces” brand in other parts of the country and world.

Being someone totally invested in helping out organizations and charities in the Buffalo area, I cannot write about Faces of Buffalo without talking about all of Brian’s charitable efforts. While expanding the “Faces” brand, Brian created “Faces for Fundraising” which is designed to benefit local not-for-profits. Since Faces of Buffalo was unveiled in 2003 Brian has raised more than $50,000 for groups throughout the area.

Brian is always expanding out to different projects and recently added the Buffalo Alphabet Project to his products. On his website, besides the mosaic prints (most run about $29.95 before tax and shipping), Brian sells t-shirts, note cards and magnets. They are truly a great addition to any home in Buffalo and the perfect gift for the “Buffalover” in your life!

If your organization is interested in utilizing “Faces for Fundraising” you can contact Brian at 716-854-5033 or e-mail him at facesofbuffalo@hotmail.com. You can also find out more about the Buffalo Photo Alphabet on their Facebook page.

If you have been to my house before, my walls are filled with so many of these mosaic prints and I’m stoked to purchase his newest mosaic of the city skyline. While speaking with Brian about this blog, we decided to partner together to help out one of the organizations in my “12 Missions in ‘12” campaign. During the first week in April, 40% of ANY online purchase made at www.facesofbuffalo.com will go to support Hospice Buffalo! So for every mosaic print about $12 will be going to Hospice! If we can get 100 people to buy a print during the first week of April, that’s around $1200 for a great organization…not to mention YOU get a pretty awesome piece of art. If you own a business in Buffalo, they are a great piece to have hanging in your office, as well!

Check out some of the mosaics below and the first week in April be sure to order your prints online. As an added bonus, everyone who purchases a print will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift card for Brodo Restaurant in Amherst.

Newest mosaic

Mosaics of City Hall, the 2011 Buffalo mosaic and a football! Just a few of the MANY options!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Ladies of the Vine Wine Club

When I was teaching a Zumba class last semester, one of the ladies in my class mentioned she wouldn't be at class the following week because she was attending the monthly "Ladies of the Vine" dinner. Intrigued by the name (and joking that if it had something to do with wine she was "excused" from class) I asked her what it was all about. She told me it was a monthly get together to eat and drink wine and the next time she was in class she brought me a flyer. I jumped on the internet that night, and soon after contacted the founder of the group, Kristin.

Kristin, a Buffalonian, was living in Fort Myers, Florida in 2004, which is where the original idea for the "Ladies of The Vine" concept came from. When we discussed where the idea came from, Kristin said, "...over dinner and drinks with some friends. I was telling them how nice it would be to get together more often for nice dinners and to learn about wine. After a few more drinks, I said, "what the heck" and decided to get something off the ground." Kristin partnered with a restaurant in Fort Myers and began hosting a monthly women's wine club. It was an instant success.

After moving back to Buffalo in 2005, Kristin knew she wanted to start a women's wine club up here, but wanted to get re-acclimated to the area first. In August of 2010 she launched the first wine club event in Buffalo at Stillwater. Since that initial event, they have continued to meet the first Tuesday of every month.

Anyone can participate, and the group has no formal "membership" policy. Ladies pay one price for dinner which includes appetizers, dinner, wines, tax and gratuity. Each month the group tries out a different restaurant in Buffalo (although they do admit they have some favorites they have gone back to; Torches, 31 Club and Rue Franklin, to name a few). The typical cost of the event is $60.

Also included in the cost are a chance at prize drawings at the end of the night, and throughout the year money is donated to local charities. For the past year, "The Ladies of The Vine" have been working with Everywoman Opportunity Center.

Reservations for the event are required ahead of time and cancellations are nonrefundable if made within 48 hours of the event.

To find out more about the monthly events, you need to join Kristin's mailing list. (e-mail her to join at marketingforu@aol.com or call her at (716) 380-8565). An e-newsletter goes out each month, along with an invitation to the event. Kristin also sends out invites and updates via Facebook and everything can also be found on their website. Participants don't need to come every month, they can take a look at the schedule, see what interests them, and join in when they can.

For anyone who works full time, has kids that keep them busy, or doesn't get to get out on the town often, it can be hard to make new friends. This group is the perfect place to strike up new friendships (who share your common love for food and wine). Kristin noted that many of the ladies who have participated have become great friends!

Depending on the size of the restaurant, monthly get togethers typically have between 50-60 ladies in attendance. The group also hosts smaller happy hour events and dinners in Niagara County as well.

"The Ladies of the Vine" truly has something for all women. Whether it's getting to "Love on Buffalo" and sample different menus out, learn about wine, get away from work and kids to have a fun night out, or network with a lot of business professionals in Buffalo, you won't be disappointed you attended an event. The next dinner will be held on Tuesday April 3rd at Rick's on Main in East Aurora. Check out all the details on their website/Facebook pages today!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Brodo Restaurant in Amherst

Because I work full time, and teach aerobics classes a few evenings a week, usually when I have a post for the blog, it takes me about a week to sit down and actually put it together. However, after my meal at Brodo on Wednesday, I had the post almost completely finished that evening. After we left the restaurant, I had to teach a Zumba class but had about 20 minutes to kill in between. My fingers were going crazy on the laptop as I began writing about my great experience…

Brodo is a deceiving restaurant from the street. Located on a corner on Main Street in Amherst, it looks small and can sort of get lost in the mix. A couple who came in after us even commented that they drove right past it, to the other guests in their party. They do have a parking lot behind the restaurant with ample space which is always a big plus on a busy street. What we found when we walked in was truly a "hidden gem". I was pleasantly surprised when we walked inside. The d├ęcor and ambiance are awesome and there were a lot more tables than I imagined. The lights were dim, the modern artwork on the walls gave the space a more upscale look and the tableware, tables and set up flowed very nicely.

I heard they have great soups so I was excited to order the “Flight of Soups” to start my meal. They were better than great, they were outstanding. I ordered the Tomato, Beef Barley and Poblano Corn Chowder. My favorite was the Poblano Corn Chowder. The little kick really enhanced the flavor, and I am not typically one for any kind of “kick” in my food. My boyfriend Geoffrey ordered the Brodo soup (the only kind I didn’t try) which was a tomato based soup with sausage and spices and he really enjoyed that as well.

As an appetizer, we ordered the duck quesadillas, which came with a mango chutney, and were absolutely delish! I go back and forth on whether or not I like duck, but these quesadillas were so flavorful, the duck so tender and the chutney was the perfect balance of sweetness! When I go back, I’ll definitely be ordering these again as a starter.

For my main course, and to be honest by then I was already getting pretty full, I ordered the grilled chicken focaccia. It was shaped like a pizza and was really great. It had flavor, all the ingredients mixed together well, and it really hit the spot. Although it was super tasty, I ended up taking half of it home and enjoyed it during the Sabres game later that night!!

Other guests in my party ordered the chicken Caesar salad and the pressed roast beef sandwich, which came with a side of pasta salad (that got two thumbs up from the little guy in our party, Jacob). Everyone really enjoyed their meals and we all talked about coming back again.

Wednesday night is ½ price bottles of wine night, and nearly every table aside from ours, was indulging in a bottle! (For those of you surprised I wasn’t enjoying a glass of wine, I did have to teach a class after!)

The service flowed nicely and the timing of our entrees was perfect. It was truly an enjoyable dinner out with awesome company. As we walked to our cars after the meal (on a perfect “spring” day in Buffalo) one guest in my party commented, “I’m trying to figure out why I waited until now to come here!” My sentiments exactly!

If you haven’t tried out Brodo yet (4548 Main Street, Amherst, NY) add it to your list of “night out’s” soon! Brodo will be one of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week from March 26th – April 1st, so that might be the perfect time for you to get out there. If you have a pack of the Buffalo dining cards, Brodo is one of the cards in the pack, so make sure you pull it out and use it! You can find Brodo on the internet at www.brodo.net and they also have Facebook and Twitter pages.

Sometimes you try a new place out and it is a complete miss, but then you try places out like Brodo and you want to keep looking for other "hidden" gems throughout Buffalo and WNY! If you aren't as adventurous in your food choices as me, stay tuned, as I continue exploring the area!

For more reviews on Brodo check out:

Brodo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bambino Kitchen & Bar in Buffalo

I made an attempt over the summer to check out Bambino Kitchen & Bar, but was unsuccessful. My boyfriend and I went out for some drinks at Hardware (on Allen) on a Saturday night. Eventually we got hungry and wanted to grab something to eat, but as much as we love Jim’s, we wanted something else. I remembered seeing an advertisement for Bambino Kitchen & Bar saying the kitchen stayed open very late, so we ventured over there…at 2:30am. When we arrived we found out the kitchen closed at 2am and were bummed (but not too surprised)!

Last week we finally made our way back, during normal dinner hours, to eat before a Poetry Slam at The Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School (sidebar – The Poetry Slam included kids from many of the Buffalo Charter Schools and it was a really great event. There is so much young talent in Western New York and even though I didn’t know any of the kids participating, I felt really proud of all of them).

Walking into Bambino Kitchen & Bar, you have to love the modern feel to the restaurant. The brick walls break up the black they use throughout the restaurant and I absolutely love the mason jar lighting accents. I enjoyed the oversized prints of “bambinos” in the restaurant and the numerous flat screen tv’s stood tall over a gorgeous, fully stocked bar. There are two levels of dining and we were seated upstairs. There is also an outdoor patio which looks like it would be the perfect spot to enjoy a few drinks on a gorgeous Buffalo summer night, and my boyfriend and I were already discussing coming back over the summer (before the food even came). One other awesome feature to the restaurant is a small front “porch” area with a gorgeous fire pit. Another perfect spot to enjoy a drink and watch the Buffalo night life.

Everything on the small (but diverse) menu looked great and we decided on a few appetizers, a salad, and one of the wood oven pizzas. We were also brought bread and olive oil, and you can never go wrong with that! Both appetizers we had were outstanding (the arancini and carpaccio). I think they would be an awesome place to come for drinks/appetizers for happy hour! The grilled chicken pizza was good, but the chicken pieces were huge and a little dry. I love wood fired pizzas (shout out to Siena on Main Street), but I was a little disappointed in this one. I only had a few bites of the house salad because I filled up fast, but it was good.

Our service was great and we really enjoyed our experience there. We both talked about coming back in the summer again and I am sure we will. I would love to try one of the pasta dishes on the menu!!

Bambino is located downtown at 297 Franklin Street. They do have late hours most nights, with the pizza oven open until midnight Mondays - Thursdays and 2am on Fridays - Saturdays. You can check them out online at www.bambinobar.com. You can also make reservations online.

Kudos to owner Noel Morreale (who also owns Fiamma Steak on Hertel) on a great addition to the downtown scene!

For more reviews on Bambino Kitchen & Bar, check out:

Bambino Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tea Leafs WNY in Williamsville

For Valentine's Day my very thoughtful boyfriend bought me a practical gift I've been wanting for months; a Teavana teamaker and tea! (Random side bar for boyfriends in general - if you listen to what we say in passing, and let us know you were listening, we kinda eat that stuff up!) Anyway, while I love, love, love Teavana, and all their teas and products are fabulous, right now they are a little pricey for my budget. So, like I do for many things in life, I posted a status update to Facebook asking people if they knew of other places I could get tea. A few people responded and that's how I ended up at WNY Tea Leafs on Klein in Williamsville last Saturday.

If you can't remember last Saturday, it was a windy, snowy morning/afternoon and the perfect day for some tea. Within seconds of walking into the store owner Sydney Hoffman greeted us and told us to get a cup of tea (what a warm, literally warm, welcome)! I tried the Citrus Sorbet and really enjoyed it.

The store, located in the Dash's Plaza on Klein, is small and cute. One wall is full of all the teas they offer in canisters for your "smelling" pleasure. They have an area where you can sample the teas of the day and a spot to sit down. They also have various tea pots, tea coasters and all the accessories for tea making for sale in store. The teas vary in price (most that we purchased were between $4 - $6 per ounce, but some of the teas are a little more expensive than that). Compared to Teavana and other tea places I have found, they are considerably cheaper and perfect for my budget.

Both the owner, and the younger girl working behind the counter were extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and I enjoyed chatting with them and getting their "advice" and suggestions.

When all was said and done we walked out of there with four different kinds of teas to enjoy (that didn't break the bank), and I've enjoyed trying them all out this week. My personal new favorite tea, that I can't seem to get enough of, is the Roasted Almond they offer, although the Bourbon Street Vanilla is a close second. They have a punch card that is good for a free ounce of tea after your card is fully punched and we almost earned a free ounce on this visit alone!

The owner, Sydney Hoffman sends out an e-mail newsletter periodically, and I signed up for it and already received one. What a great, friendly read! It's clear that Sydney Hoffman knows about tea and if you drink numerous glasses a day like me, it's a MUST GO to spot. Shop local, and support small business in Williamsville the next time you are in the area.