The brainchild of owner Dale Ali and chef Sergio Aquino, Epic Restaurant and Lounge captures diners’ interest with dishes that showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as the chef’s mastery of culinary techniques ranging from classic French to peasant, according to Buffalo Spree. The menu—which the Buffalo News called “ambitious” and “totally different from any other in the area”—comprises upscale dinner fare with unexpected twists: the grilled rib eye arrives with pomegranate jam, and the duck breast is flanked by a cilantro-nutmeg emulsion and rubber-ducky bodyguards.
The eatery also strives to be epic in its drink selection with a varnished wooden bar offering more than 25 imported or microbrewery beers as well as an extensive wine list. Diners can kick off the weekend with dinner, drinks, and jams every Friday night, with entertainment alternating between salsa and live bands.
At Laughlin's Hearty Bistro, chefs concoct a menu of rustic, bistro-style fare that spotlights quality cuts of beef, fresh fish, and meaty sandwiches paired with hand-cut fries. Steak- and seafood-laden plates make their way to the cozy dining room, where warm lamplight illuminates dark-wood tables and exposed-brick walls. A mezzanine populated with plush, black leather easy chairs overlooks a copper-topped bar. Here, friendly bartenders and repurposed paint shakers mix a mean martini, and the bar's glassware also brims with wine and beer.
The bean blazers at Boulder Coffee Company flame-roast their coffee before brewing signature coffees and espressos. Sink into a comfy couch or float lazily on the aromatic wafts of fresh coffee while sipping on the caramel macchiato, a vanilla latte topped with caramel sauce, or a spiced chai. An artful atmosphere beckons the caffeinated critic with walls lined with paintings and negative space for seeing what's going on outside. Boulder Coffee Company’s open-mic night allows anyone to sign up to deliver comedy or perform espresso spit takes; check the calendar for an idea of upcoming acts.
In Solera, owner John Fanning creates an accessible and inviting wine bar with knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of fine local and imported wines, and gourmet nibbles. Visitors can sip a glass of 2007 Mendoza chardonnay from Argentina ($6) or 2007 Jeanne Marie California merlot ($6) while grazing on an artisan-cheese board with three imported cheeses, sliced apples, baguette, and honey-drizzled apricots ($10). A bottle of French Domaine Dupeuble beaujolais from France ($28) or Indian Chenin blanc ($28) pairs well with both promising or tedious first dates, and effervescent conversation finds its match in a bottle of sparkling Australian shiraz ($32). Suds seekers can nab an Ithaca pale ale, Brooklyn lager, or Victory prima pilsner, among other brews ($4 each), while sampling an olive-oil flight with sliced baguette and sea salt ($7).
Southwedge Colony's classic pub cuisine quiets grumbling stomachs with a distinctive selection of freshly fired sandwiches. Furnish vacant table space with the loaded french fries, smothered with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, and bacon ($7.25). Or prove your love for hamburgers in a way that naming your first child, Hamburger, never could by adopting a black-bean burger, topped with crispy lettuce, succulent tomato, and zesty onion ($6.50). Meanwhile, the Colony Plate arrives with two 1/3-pound Angus beef patties stacked over macaroni salad, a choice of fries or tater tots, and slathering of meat sauce and chopped onions ($9.95).