They say you can’t be all things to all people. I’d say Buffalo’s newest upscale restaurant, bar, nightclub, private-party destination- The Lodge Bar & Grill- is challenging that concept.
The latest chic addition to Chippewa is “classy and cool all in one” says Manager Joe Michaels. The very stylish oasis in the woods will morph from a business lunch spot, to a late afternoon happy hour favorite, to a fine dining restaurant, to a nightlife destination… seven days a week.
The Lodge is a spectacular 6000+ S.F. space designed by Rohit Kapoor. The ten month renovation of the building that once housed Bayou Nightclub and McMonkeez reportedly cost over $1 million. My guess would be well over $1 million. Like a lodge in the woods this is a sanctuary from the elements, but with a twist. This lodge brings some of nature’s perks inside- a little “wildlife” here, a trickling water wall there, a bramble of branches, and even a magnificently displayed grove of trees just beyond the bar.
The All-American, outdoors-themed restaurant boasts two levels and many distinct environments. The downstairs includes an impressive bar framed by the aforementioned grove (must see). Five TV screens above make for a good spot to catch a game. The entrance is sided by a lounge outfitted with couches, chairs, and disappearing front windows overlooking Chippewa. This area will double as a bandstand when needed. The wall opposite the bar is a dining space with a pleasant combination of elegant tables and booths that echo the upscale lodge theme.
On the second floor you will pass though a game area with billiards, bubble hockey, air hockey, and Skee Ball. Beyond this you’ll find a more casual dining area overlooking the first floor bar. This is a great spot if you prefer to be on the edge of the buzz. A few more steps beyond is the Arctic bar/lounge. Perfect to host a large group or to service the “New Orleans” style porch where one can enjoy a smoke, an intimate conversation and a great view of Chippewa. The Lodge offers a variety of settings for private parties of 15 to 350 people.
Like everything else at The Lodge the menu is daring and diverse. Head Chef Fortune Macri worked for Bobby Flay and international star Chef Charles Palmer (whose wife is from WNY). His “Bold New American” cuisine features dishes with Asian, Italian, French, Latin and Southern influences as well as Buffalo favorites.
From the small plate menu we tried: Korean Short Ribs with Asian slaw and grilled asparagus tips ($12) – a really nice small plate idea with thinly sliced, bone-in short ribs that were tender with a deep sesame flavor; Stag on a Stick ($15) – grilled venison skewers on grilled Naan bread with minted English cucumber Riata sauce, baby arugula and a slaw – delicious and perfectly prepared without a hint of gaminess; Maryland Lump Crab Cakes ($14) -pan sautéed in sunflower oil with avocado aioli and salsa – the cakes were light with plenty of crab and the avocado aioli with a salsa side is my new favorite crab cake accompaniment.
From the sandwich menu we tried the Chicken Fried Chicken Sandwich ($12)- fried chicken breast topped with maple infused coleslaw, spiked with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce served between two waffles. I’ll admit this didn’t sound that appealing to me. WRONG! This is just a combination that works- the soft waffle (bun) brings terrific flavor to this unlikely combination. (Probably one of those things you need to try for yourself). The side of fries was also top notch.
Some menu items that will bring us back:
Soups & Salads: Heirloom Tomato Bisque ($6); Fried Egg + Bacon Salad ($10).
Small Plates: Wild Mushroom Strudel ($10), Blackened Fish Tacos ($10), Seared Scallops done Four Ways ($14).
Sandwiches: Lodge Burger ($12); Soft Shell Crab Po Boy ($15); Cubana ($10); Pan Seared Tandori Salmon Sandwich ($13).
Entrees: Lobster Milanese (M.P.); Pan Roasted Striped Bass ($22); Veal Shank ($32).
The Lodge has a full bar, a good selection of beers with a dozen on draft, and many more in bottle. In wine they have an adequate selection with 5 sparkling, 11 white, 19 red, and 3 port. There are 5 scotches listed on the menu.
The Lodge is currently under a soft opening. They plan an official grand opening in early October. The owners feel they bring a lot of diversity to the neighborhood and believe they will further the trend of transforming Chippewa from young enthusiast to upscale nightlife.
Ambitious? Definitely – but they have the digs, and from what I’ve tasted of the food, the culinary talent, to pull it off. Can WNYers wrap their heads around the many shades of The Lodge Bar & Grill? I sure hope so.
79 W. Chippewa St., Buffalo ; (716) 256-1940
Mon: 11:00 am – 12:00 am ; Tue – Thu: 11:00 am – 1:00 am; Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 2:00 am; Sun: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm