Notes From Buffalo – Part Deux

finally getting back to this… unfortunately my memory is a bit spotty at this point.

aaaah.  i'm home.
wings at anchor bar
miks goes in for the buffalo head

FRIDAY

dinner

aaah, anchor bar. so much kitsch and crap everywhere, and yet so worth it.

we (marci, miks, mags, and vanessa) waited for some time, eventually being seated in a side room far from the live jazz — next time i want to sit by the jazz. the uncomfortable feeling of tourist trap faded away when i discovered the availability of 1800 (can’t be too picky… it’s buffalo!) and lemonade. the first glass was tiny, like the shooter of obligatory orange juice with an all inclusive breakfast special, but they were open to my request of a double in a pint glass. on to the chicken!

we ordered one order of fingers, mild, as an appetizer for the table. the sauce there is to die for… seriously. so buttery, mildly spicy (we went mild at first… medium is the way to go), and delicious. so good. so, so good. oh man. while we waited for the rest of our order, i found myself dipping bread in the leftover sauce. such a bad idea, but i was addicted. for the meal i ordered chicken fingers, and then caught myself… normally i prefer boneless, but i was at the source. i had to order wings… i had to have the original. so, chicken finger for an app, and fingers and wings for dinner. i am the pinnacle of health!

but an amazing thing happened to me at anchor bar… my wings vs. tenders thing was totally turned upside down. while i liked the chicken finger appetizer, my order of fingers was way too salty… i didn’t end up eating very many of them, but one of them was shaped like a buffalo, so i stabbed it on a fork like a butterfly in a case, and we passed it around to take pictures. the wings, on the other hand, were the best i’ve ever had. i realized that they were good when i noticed that i’d just had an entire drumstick without dipping into bleu cheese… i never do this. they were that good. the skin was thin but impeccably crispy, and the meat right underneath wasn’t dry at all, it was just right. and again, that sauce is just perfection. i seem to remember ordering a small house salad… that thing never had a chance… it wilted on the side of the table as i focused intently on the wings.

sadly, after anchor bar i was feeling sick. i may have taken a wrong turn when i began using bread to soak up the extra hot sauce. my body, used to one serving of meat a day (tops) was pissed about the chicken. my favorite sign-reading friend marci was announcing storefronts as we headed toward broadway joe’s, and wings/chicken/other chicken-y words came up a couple of times. ugh. i didn’t want to hear the words. i was sure i was going to have to chirp to make it through the night.

but chirp i did not! instead, upon arriving at the dive bar, i initiated a drink offensive on myself: cuervo margaritas. yuck. many thanks to my cole haan boo of a bartender, though, for making them all night. babysteps was fun(ny). it was great to finally make it there, and it was comical that i had actually bought a plane ticket to attend a hip hop night at a dive bar in buffalo, ny. i guess that’s how i roll, though… unlikely and comical… i like to mix it up!

SATURDAY

brunch

the whole babysteps crew met up at left bank in the light of day. tamika reminds me that i had the huevos rancheros, a little quiche, and a well spicy (mmm!) bloody mary. i wanted a mimosa, but my girl is allergic to oranges, so i didn’t think it was right; had to make do with vodka. brunch was delicious. just the right portion, and with an air of fine dining. made me feel like a fancypants human, even though i’d slept for precious few hours.

after brunch, our illustrious tour guide showed us some buffalo sights from the windows of the car. we headed to a different spot coffee for a pick me up, and headed over to the darwin martin house complex, a local frank lloyd wright institution. we got out of the car and realized that a) the people walking around were in the last tour of the day, and b) we weren’t going to be able to bring our caffeine inside, so we got back in the car to hang out with coffee and ladies, against the backdrop of FLW’s creations. it was warm in that car, and the company was good.

car tours can be exhausting, so we headed back to the hyatt to lay around for a little while… in front of my favorite queen latifah movie, last holiday (yes, i’ve seen it before – and i made my boyfriend watch it with me). when i’m tired, what i need is for the tv to think for me and portray the world in a positive light. the queen did not let us down! never did get a nap, though.

dinner

before we knew it we had to drag ourselves out of bed and off to the next meal. gabriel’s gate came up in my buffalo chicken research as having amazing wings (well, according to a number of yelpers), and miks was meeting friends there. when we got there the wait for our party (me, marci, mags, miks, and two of miks’ friends from college) was brutal, so we wandered down the street to coulter bay. the gate was on my agenda, to be sure, but vanessa had suggested the chicken fingers at coulter bay, so it seemed more logical than standing in the servers’ way for an hour.

at coulter bay margo and i split an order of wings and an order of chicken fingers. for good measure, she got a salad (good toppings, but they were hiding a big bowl of iceberg, called “greens” on the menu), and i got a cheese and veggie sandwich. they tricked me with the avocado (and the promise of dijon subbed in for the mayo)… i actually thought i would have something more like my normal diet. what arrived was more like american singles, sad veggies, and a couple of slices of white bread slathered in yellow mustard. ugh.

back to the chicken… the wings were awful. they were like greasy chinatown wings; straight up nasty. i didn’t even finish one. the chicken fingers weren’t bad, but they did suffer from overly mild sauce, and they were a little thinner and drier than i like. i think this is the buffalo way, though. they call them chicken fingers, while in boston we call them buffalo tenders. ours are generally more 3D, theirs are usually pounded out and looking like a thin, darker, randomly shaped fish stick. in any case, i think my body was over chicken by this time, so i enjoyed a few chicken fingers, picked at my eating disorder of a sandwich, and sipped on my pint of don julio and semi-artificial lemonade.

on the way out, mags had us take the long way around the bar from the back room, to check out buffalo’s finest (male population). whoa. this made me really miss my bf, who is in a different galaxy in comparison. aww.

spaaaaahks!
losers

after dinner we headed to soundlab, where lopro and cutler were spinning records, and anto, sick, and rabbi darkside were performing. rabbi d clued me into the presence of SPARKS (spaaaaaahks!), so i introduced tamika to the joys of said wonderfully disgusting beverage. she couldn’t make it through one, because her brain/body are more finely attuned. i had orange and black, black and orange. the ladies went home. i had another orange and had a dance party in the losing raffle tickets.

when soundlab closed down, anto and lopro took me to what appeared to be the local punk rock bar, the old pink. we barely made it in the door and ordered a drink, and we were back out on the street. but no fear! i was rolling with buffalo’s best tour guides this weekend, and they think on their feet. a few steps down the street, and we were at the bar of another spot that sports dj nights… except i don’t remember the name of the place! the bartender was rad, and after i sneakily ducked a group shot, anto and i ordered half bottles of veuve cliquot and bollinger, sharing them with all who were left (including the bartender). good times! good guys. but all good times have to come to an end eventually (and all good bartenders have to go home), so post champagne, we headed out in search of food.

SUNDAY

late night snack/breakfast

it was late (after 6?), and only a few places were open. among them, my old friend, jim’s steakout! after some ridiculousness with the cop who was guarding the chicken (involving me getting the cop, the counter guy, and the homeless guy to pose together in a picture), i settled down with my second round of jim’s steakout boneless wings. i was psyched. i still had one meal’s worth of chicken to try, but i couldn’t reserve judgment. the boneless wings at this place are so moist they win Buffalo’s Best Tenders in… well, my mind.

i think i made it back to the hyatt at 10:30am, and i was out. before too long, though, miks and i were up and packing. just enough time (barely!) for one last spot, and in lieu of a ride to duff’s (heralded as buffalo’s finest by a few friends), we decided to take a walk and make a second attempt at gabriel’s gate.

lunch

the walk was necessary, and we were earlier than most of the other easter crowd, so we got a table in no time. i ordered the wings and the tenders, as had become my habit. miks ordered steak and eggs; i love it when people do this (not sure why). it took a very long time for our food to come, which i didn’t get, since we were basically the only people in there other than a couple guys at the bar. when the food finally came, i went for it: my last meal in buffalo. i just wasn’t really feeling the wings, though. don’t get me wrong, they were way better than the wings at coulter bay, and the sauce was pretty good, but they lacked the crispy exterior of the wings at anchor bar. the tenders were pretty good… i wished i had tried them the night before, as my body wouldn’t let me eat a whole order at this point. i had barely slept, and this was my fifth meal of buffalo chicken in 48 hours. gabriel’s gate, someday i’ll give your chicken fingers another chance. step on it with the service, though, would you?

after the meal we hightailed it back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and headed for the airport. to exacerbate the fact that i was chicken sick, my gate was directly across from the airport anchor bar. i sat there staring, simultaneously wanting to walk in for one last plate of those amazing wings and wanting to chirp. i tried to nap on the back of the chair. soon i was boston bound, leaving all of that delicious sauce behind. i’m proud of myself for holding out.

THE VERDICT

there are so many places i didn’t try out… but of what i had, anchor bar has the best wings, hands down, and jim’s steakout has the best boneless. i look forward to revisiting The Great Buffalo Chicken-Off someday, but i also look forward to eating other things. fresh and healthy things.

back to life

buffalo, i love/hate you. see you soon, i hope.

p.s. i realize i’m not being consistent with capitalization. this is something you (if a reader exists) will have to get used to. i’m kind of meh about caring about that kind of thing.

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5 thoughts on “Notes From Buffalo – Part Deux

  1. you are a champ. you’ve provided a comprehensive and objective critique of buffalo wings. your next mission is to sample cheesesteaks in philly.

  2. @anto: you were there!

    @margobot: but my passion is for buffalo chicken. the search for the world’s best continues… buffalo’s best, too. still have to try duff’s.

    • bored is not any word i’ve used! i knew this post would terrify you, but i couldn’t keep a food blog from you for long. sorry you had to witness the horrors of three days of chicken, hot sauce, and tequila. i swear it’s not always like this.

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