Immersed in pictures of hockey stars, Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill unfurls a menu of savory American fare and a bevy of beverages. Treat your tablemates to an order of potato skins to see synchronized tongues climb aboard four starch-laden boats carrying gooey cheddar cheese and bacon bits ($7.50). Or, troll your own fork-motor through the grilled salmon entree, served with veggies, a choice of potato, and soup or salad ($14.95). Diners may sit at the bar, relax in one of the booths, or practice their head stands on the 12-ounce Certified Angus cushion of the Center Ice burger, stacked high with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and drizzled with thousand-island dressing ($7.95). The veggie wrap is a green thumb's delight, with a grilled tortilla enshrouding steamed broccoli, tomatoes, cherry peppers, and cheddar cheese ($7.50).
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Taking pool shots inside Bison Billiards can feel more like playing in a professional tournament than at a local pool hall. This is because players test their mettle on multiple professional-quality pool tables––including Diamond and Gabriels––covered in Simonis cloth and stocked with Aramith balls. The in-house pro shop equips players with a variety of cues, accessories, and cases from top-industry names such as Predator and Poison. About the only distraction from the billiards is the stocked bar, which houses more than 25 varieties of beer and a bank of dartboards that enables visitors to practice their aim before the tailless donkeys invade.
Servers at Alternative Brews deliver frosty confections from a selection of 150 different beers, mixed drinks, and cold sodas to thirsty patrons. Though the beer menu rotates, previous selections have included the hop-laden potency of Flying Dog Old Scratch amber ($4.25), and the dark and velvety Young's Double Chocolate stout ($5). Offerings from Ayinger brewery, including Brau Weiss ($5), shuttle refreshing infusions of golden wheat from Germany to waiting glasses. Take a well or call drink of your choice ($4–$4.75) to the outdoor patio to cool off on balmy summer evenings, or show off air-harmonica skills against a backdrop of weekly live blues music. Monthly free beer tastings regale patrons with samples of new drafts from Alternative Brew's ever-changing selection.
Williamsville, NY. The early 20th century. A man guides his family’s horse-drawn carriage through the flurries of snow sweeping across their circular driveway before coming to a halt in front of a striking two-story home. The ride was long and chilly, but inside, homey warmth awaits. Today, teleportation discs may have replaced the horse and buggy, but travelers still traverse the same driveway in search of a warm welcome. Now the home of Parings Wine Bar, the turn-of-the-century house reflects the goal that owner Shelia Paolini shared with the Amherst Bee’s Jessica Finch: “We want it to feel like you are coming into a living room, that you are at home, not at a bar.”
As soon as guests push open the bright-red front door, they enter a space that combines the comfort of a lived-in family room with the gourmet flavors found at traditional wine bars. Lit by flat-screen TVs and a cozy fireplace, guests peruse Chef Scott Martin’s ever-changing menu, which often features mediterranean nachos, lobster mac 'n' cheese, and horseradish beef tenderloin. Resident sommelier Alphonso DiMono’s wine list, which culls vintages from global wineries from Australia to France to California, perfectly complements the chef's creations. The bar’s mixologists also shake up more than 20 martinis infused with treats such has espresso vodka, Godiva white-chocolate liqueur, and pumpkin puree. As they sip and eat, guests can also join in special event nights that include art shows, live music, and happy hours that feature 20 types of wine for just $20 per bottle.
Town Pub's grill gurus decorate tables with selections from a menu of juicy burgers, spicy wings, and specialty pizzas amid a bustling neighborhood sports-bar atmosphere. Taste buds embark on a cruise with the Grand Island burger, smothered in thousand-island dressing and topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickle ($4.99). The Ellicott Creek burger teams up with an entourage of potato chips ($4.99), and sets of 10 wings ($7.99) don toppings of garlic parmesan and honey mustard before taking flight toward customers’ mouths. The pub's action-packed calendar features activities and entertainment five nights a week, including live bands on weekends, karaoke on Tuesdays, and an open mic on Wednesdays where aspiring beat-boxers flex their vocal muscles. Big-screen TVs broadcast a steady stream of sports matchups, ensuring that customers don’t miss a second of professional toe-wrestling action.
ComedySportz's teams of improv artisans compete for belly laughs in a fast-paced, unscripted stage match fueled by audience participation. With humor hampers full of fluffy, clean jokes, the players act out suggestion-based scenes and yodel out impromptu songs while vying for the viewers' glow-stick votes. A referee officiates the games and penalizes off-color language by making the speaker wear an unfashionable brown bag for a bonnet. Much like snowflakes, no two shows are the same, and all are best enjoyed with an outstretched tongue.