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10/30/08 02:52 - 45ºF - ID#46429

Buffalo's Wine Bar Craze

So I will be the first to admit I'm not the most knowledgeable person about wine. I do however love it and am very excited that two new wine bars have opened in Buffalo in the past several weeks. The Wine Thief on Elmwood and Bryant opened sometime around mid September, Just Vino on Main and Virginia opened on Saturday.

Wine Thief:

I really like this place a lot, sure there are some things I don't like but all in all it's a great place to have a glass of wine. I love the interior of the place, the woodwork of the bar is beautiful and I think the wine room being showcased behind a huge pane of glass is very sexy. They also have a high tech looking wine tap system that pumps nitrogen into open bottles of wine thereby keeping them fresher longer. Whether nitrogen changes the taste of the wine or increases my car tires life I have no idea. But it is pretty cool looking and allows them to sell more expensive bottles by the glass. They have several wines on the list and although I didn't count it seems like one quarter of them are available by the glass. They also have a decent but limited beer selection for those in the group who would prefer malted hops to fermented grapes. The food menu is probably my biggest disappointment with the place. It's really pretty boring. I was surprised that they didn't have a cheese plate even listed on there or at least I didn't notice it. That's probably the number one thing I would want at a place like this. The one thing I did try that's on their "Summer Menu" is the duck tacos. Not bad but not really outstanding either. The wine menu has plenty of wines that I have never tried so I can't be the biggest critic about what they have. It's what they don't have which surprised me. They only had two Rieslings on the entire list, surely it's a much more popular wine than that! Also if you are looking for dessert wine you have definitely stumbled into the wrong place. There wasn't even a category for it. That is almost shocking to me since we are only a 45-minute drive away from ice wine country. I'm sure that they are in the preliminary stages of figuring out exactly what people want, which shouldn't be difficult considering how busy they were both times I was there. I hope to see additions to the list in the coming future.

Just Vino:

Although the location of this new wine bar seems like a peculiar choice, I'm more than happy to welcome them to my neighborhood. As with the Wine Thief the interior looks great. They certainly didn't cheap out in building costs. They have a nice looking copper bar and some equally appealing woodwork. I love that there is no TV in the entire space. It's nice to not have muted sports everywhere I go. They are considerably smaller than the Wine Thief but they have a large selection of wine. One page each front and back for whites and reds. There are some really delicious wines on this list and some that I can't wait to try. The food menu is limited to small platters of cheeses, pate and chocolates. I think the menu is appropriate for what they are trying to sell. The kitchen is actually in the dining room and is about a 2'x2' space. So I don't see them ever adding a whole lot more to their offerings. They like The Wine Thief are also lacking in the dessert wine category, with only one on the list. Talking with the owner its sounds as though he may consider adding some in the future. They do offer four different wine flights and will change them on a rotating basis. Also they have very small beer list, I think around 6 or 7 kinds. Nothing too specialized here but then again I would rather have wine at a place like this. Being that I am so close I'm rooting for this place to succeed.

I think both places are great for different reasons. Wine Thief seems like a place people go to be seen and Just Vino is more of an intimate setting. I would love to see more Finger Lakes and Niagara Region wines. They seem to be regions that are highly neglected by both operations. The huge bonus to the patron is that Just Vino is open 7 days a week. Wine Thief is closed on Sunday and Monday. I'm not sure how receptive Buffalo will be to either place, but in my opinion I think they are a welcome addition.

P.S. both websites are pretty horrible

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10/30/08 12:20 - 40ºF - ID#46425

The Stinger

So I have been in Buffalo over a year now and I thought I had my head pretty well wrapped around the regional specialties. I mean who around here doesn't know about Wings, Beef on Weck and crummy pizza? Last week though a couple of my coworkers were having a heated debate about who makes the best Stinger. Apparently a Stinger is steak and chicken fingers chopped together on a sub with onions, lettuce and tomato. I assume there are endless variations of this but this seems to be the standard. I can't believe I had never even heard of this until now. So last Saturday after work and several beers I stumbled to Jim's Steakout to see if they even made such a thing. It wasn't on the menu but if you ask the right people they will definitely make it for you. Haute cuisine it's not but it may possibly be the ultimate drunk food.
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10/05/08 10:17 - 48ºF - ID#45939

SNL is funny again


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Location: Buffalo, NY


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