Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pan American Brewery & Grill

When my Dad was back in town last week we planned a lunch date for Friday afternoon. He let me pick where, so I quickly suggested the NEW The Pam American Grill & Brewery inside the newly remodeled Hotel Lafayette. I’ve wanted to check it out since it opened and my Dad wanted to go somewhere “Buffalo”, so it was the perfect fit!

Before we ventured into the restaurant to sit down, we explored The Hotel Lafayette. Wow! The renovated space is absolutely gorgeous. From the “old” touches to the new modern feel in the furniture, to the simply stunning woodwork, it is truly gorgeous and a “destination” spot in Buffalo. Mike A’s Restaurant looks incredible, and I can’t wait to get over there for a special occasion. They brought in a handful of local businesses to utilize the space in the building and have apartment and hotel rooms completely renovated.

Once we were done snooping around (walking into unlocked banquet rooms, and my Dad even snuck back to the kitchen area), we finally grabbed a booth at The Pan American Grill & Brewery. The restaurant itself is one of the coolest spaces I’ve seen recently. It has incredible woodwork throughout the large space and offers diners a handful of oversized flat screen televisions (perfect for viewing sporting events!). There’s even a gorgeous fireplace separating two dining areas with oversized seating and game hanging from the walls. There is also an upstairs to the restaurant with mostly cocktail tables, perfect for a few drinks and appetizers after work. They incorporate the Pan American Exposition into paintings on the wall and the architecture is specific from the time period.

As we were escorted to our table, I got all wide eyed when I noticed the small plates on the tables were Pam Am prints. I’ve seen these plates before, and have been regretting not purchasing them for my boyfriend for Christmas (he got two gorgeous Pan Am prints framed instead). While they were literally just a small touch, they really set the tone for me and I was in Buffalove heaven.

The menu consists of many similar items Pearl Street (its sister restaurant) has with sandwiches, pizzas, wraps, etc…Something different from Pearl Street are the flat breads they offer. I was pretty stoked to see they had a Duck Confit with Goat Cheese one, so I selected that, along with a crock of their French Onion Soup. My boyfriend went with a bowl of their chicken chili and the Buffalo Chicken Wrap and my Dad chose the Fish Fry (a haddock fish, served with fries and coleslaw).

The soup/chili came out first, along with some breadsticks for the table. My crock of French Onion soup was outstanding. I consider myself somewhat of a French onion soup coinsurer, and the soup here is high on my list of favorites. They use their Roosevelt Red Ale as part of the broth for the soup, and it was seasoned perfectly. The chicken chili, on the other hand, was not that great, and came out looking like a big mess. It was slopped in a bowl dripping all over the place.

Our meals came out soon after and everything looked great at first glance. The flat bread (pictured below left) was different than how I pictured it, but was easily the best thing brought out. The fish fry looked good, it was a generous piece of fish with a decent amount of fries and a small bowl of coleslaw, but upon further review we discovered a gigantic hair running down the entire length of the fish. We promptly called management over and they were extremely embarrassed and apologetic and offered to substitute for anything else on the menu he would like. The Buffalo chicken wrap was a decent size but came out on a big plate, making the presentation a little sad (the soup was the side, so it was literally just the wrap on the plate).

My Dad and I ended up splitting the flat bread and it was delicious. It was topped with a citrus cranberry sauce and that easily made the dish. The duck was cooked perfectly and there was a generous portion of goat cheese. The flavors combined well and I could easily see myself coming back before a Sabres game to order a few different flatbreads and some local beer!  

The Buffalo chicken wrap was “good”, my chef of a boyfriend told me, but he wasn’t overly impressed. My meal, which happens often, was the winner for the day. It was extremely tasty and between the soup and just half the flatbread I was full, and satisfied for the entire afternoon.

If I was judging the Pan American Brewery & Grill solely on appearance, it would get an A++. It has the potential for becoming the new hangout spot before and after Sabres games. I was very happy with my meal, but plating and presentation still need some work. That being said, I walked out of there saying that I was looking forward to coming back for another meal.

If you haven’t stopped into Hotel Lafayette yet to look around, put it on your must do list before the summer is over. It is a redefined Buffalo gem, and I’m looking forward to hanging out inside the walls of the Pan American Brewery & Grill more this fall!

Duck Confit & Goat Cheese Flatbread, Buffalo Chicken Wrap & French Onion Soup

For more reviews on the Pan American Brewery & Grill, check out: 

Pan American Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Liberty Hound in Buffalo

I've always been of those people who has to plan out the day and stick to the daily to-do list. Spontaneity has never been my strong suit. I'm happy to report though, that this summer I've become less anal retentive and am embracing the idea of spontaneity! 

Take for example my trip to Liberty Hound. I was downtown for drinks at The Statler Lobby Bar with my boyfriend and we were looking for a place to go to dinner. Normally, for me this would take careful consideration (and typically ten minutes of discussion with my boyfriend), but I threw caution to the wind and suggested Liberty Hound. We called the restaurant and got on the short waiting list for dinner. 

We parked over by The Hatch (about a five minute walk), and while we could have gotten a little closer to the restaurant (there is no parking lot for the restaurant), it is always fun to walk along the Harbor. We arrived to the restaurant earlier than they told us a table would be ready, but they sat us right away! Since it was a gorgeous Buffalo night we opted for an outdoor table. The restaurant is situated right on the water at the Naval Park. Any view from an outdoor table is gorgeous! 

As we browsed over the menu I quickly realized I would order 99% of the menu items; everything sounded delicious. I went back and forth on what to get but we finally settled on ordering The Sauteed Littlenecks to start (pictured below), and I had the grilled chicken sandwich. My boyfriend ordered the fish tacos. 

The sauteed little necks were outstanding! They are placed in a delicious broth of choriso, garlic, tomatoes, green onions and butter and served with a few pieces of bread. The bread was perfect to dip into the chorizo broth and we quickly devoured them. Honestly, I could have continued to eat more. My grilled chicken sandwich was packed with goat cheese, roasted bell peppers and arugula. They were served with fries. The chicken was cooked perfectly and was a little bit juicy. There was a generous amount of goat cheese and peppers which combined perfectly. The fries were cripsy! The fish tacos evoked a few "nom's" from my boyfriend and I enjoyed the few bites I was able to sneak in! 

The inside of the restaurant is very small. There are less than 20 total tables, and when we were there it was completely packed. The location on the Harbor is perfect for the spring/summer, but I am not sure what their plans are for the upcoming winter season. I would be worried they wouldn't be able to sustain during the winter months, but I haven't had a chance to look into what the owners plans are yet. 

Revitalization down by the Harbor/Canalside is high on my list of favorite things, and the owners of Liberty Hound did a great job turning this spot into a "must try" destination. With the revitalization of Canalside, now was the perfect time to get this restaurant up and running, and I have high hopes for other plans by the waterfront in the coming years. 

If you are looking for a perfect date spot this summer, Liberty Hound is IT! You can enjoy a few drinks and dinner looking over the water and Naval ships and then venture down to Canalside for a walk. It was such a "feel good" night! On top of that, I learned that spontaneity isn't so bad after all. I'm so glad we tried it out, and I'm hoping to spontaneously show up again before the summer is over (or plan another trip there...I'm still working on that).

For other reviews on Liberty Hound click below:

Liberty Hound on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 3, 2012

"12 Missions In '12" Update

I can't believe it's August already! I say it every year but this summer is flying by. I wanted to take a few minutes to update everyone on the "12 Missions in '12" Campaign I started back in January. 

The campaign has truly been a labor of love. We started off the year by donating over 120 items to Gerard Place. We collected hygiene items, towels, school supplies and even a bed (thanks to my boyfriend) and dropped them all off in February. The staff was such a great help as we unloaded it all, and you could tell they were truly grateful! I am sure all those items have been put to good use now. Thank you to many of my Zumba students who donated items! 

During the months of February and March I collected donations for The American Lung Association of the Northeast. In total I raised $1147.00 that supported my 40 story, 800 step stair climb up One HSBC Center downtown. This was my second year doing the event, and this year it ended up being much tougher for me. My asthma acted up, but I made it through in under ten minutes (9:08)! I was bummed I didn't get up to the top quicker, but in the end, I raised important dollars that will benefit me and the millions of other people who have asthma. So many friends, family members and co-workers donated, and I can't thank you all enough for supporting me in something I so strongly believe in!!

For months I collected donations for my very first Ride for Roswell event on June 23rd. In total I personally raised over $600 and the "Lovin' On Buffalo" team raised $1200!!! I am so proud of the team (Geoffrey Testa, Aimee Bell and Pierson Bell) for all their hard work raising money. The race day was absolutely tremendous and I never felt so much Buffalove! So many people donated to the ride and were truly inspirational as I climbed on a bike (for the first time in over 10 years!). I was scared to get back on, but by doing so I helped raise awareness and money for one of Buffalo's greatest assets! Thank you!

In June I also threw a Zumbathon event to raise money for Danceability Inc. We had close to 60 people show up to shake it for a good cause, and ended the night by raising $900 for the organization. It was a wonderful two hour event filled with a lot of smiles, laughs, and sweat! Special thanks to one of my good friends, Julie Francis for donating her time to lead the Zumbathon with me!!

In July, I purchased many items from The Brighton Place wishlist and dropped them off to the library. They had a big list of books they were looking for, and also were asking for children's art/craft supplies. Director Cassie was so thrilled when I brought everything in. I am going to be working with Brighton Place SOON and we are hopefully going to be starting up a Buffalo book club! We will be reading books about Buffalo, based on Buffalo or written by local authors. I'll have more information on it soon! 

This afternoon I'll be dropping off 41 hygiene bags to Catholic Charities. These bags are given to people in need when they come into the office. I have spent months collecting items, throwing a few things in my shopping cart when I go to Wegmans or see something on sale at Target. I also hosted a wine tasting party a few weeks back and asked all guests to bring items on the list. I spent one evening packaging them all together, and I'm looking forward to dropping them off. My goal is to get another 41 done by the end of the year! 

I partnered with Faces of Buffalo to raise some money for Hospice Buffalo. We only ended up raising $25 for the charity through online sales of items, but I am hopeful we can partner with Faces of Buffalo on another venture. And, as for Hospice Buffalo, I have another fundraiser in mind for them before the year is over.

I am thrilled by all I have been able to accomplish this year so far, and am hopeful I can continue down this path to do more for the other organizations I have chosen to help out. I am always looking for local businesses who may be interested in partnering to help raise money. I'll do most of the work, just looking for some local groups to help out! 

I truly have learned this year that one person can make a difference. These donations may not amount to a lot in the big scheme of things, but little donations here and there can truly have an impact on the people Buffalo organizations serve. 

If you have a few dollars to spare, or a few hours of time to donate - pay it forward! It might end up changing your life too!