Chefs at Toro Tapas Bar infuse their genre-defying tapas with creative fusion cuisine such as bison quesadillas and saffron lobster. Waiters transport small- to medium-size plates to glossy red tables, where diners share bites family style, as mixologists behind a dramatically backlit bar fill goblets with more than 100 wines. High ceilings with exposed girders soar above the space, and terra cotta walls bear abstract paintings that, if stared at long enough, reveal a 3D image of which diner will pick up the bill.
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 soft sounds of live jazz flow through a low-lit restaurant, easing guests into a comfortable state as the aroma of grilled steak and seared fish fills the air. It's just another night at Bistro 135, a multi-level space that hosts local musicians throughout the week on a balcony stage, who spice up the atmosphere as diners savor a fusion of international and American cuisines. Pairs can share blackened jumbo scallops and manchurian cauliflower at high-top tables in the bar area and enjoy their meals in the cozy outdoor courtyard to soak in the warm weather or surprise eclipses.
Welcoming those who are “gay, straight or somewhere in between,” 140 Alex Bar & Grill fosters a friendly atmosphere where everyone is invited to “drink, play, dance, sing, laugh, and hang out.” When they’re not too busy crooning at karaoke, applauding a drag show, or scoring points during adult trivia, guests of the brick-walled hangout sip brews and chow down on burgers and wings. The bar-restaurant’s calendar remains packed even during the holiday season, when ugly-sweater contests, Thanksgiving parties, and chess games against snowmen fill chilly Friday nights.
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).