The wild wild west this ain’t, but we still had a wild time in Buffalo NY thanks to our new found friends Sean, Myriah and little Henry, who we were lucky enough to have met earlier in Toronto at Mill St Brewery. With Betty parked up at the mechanics for a few days we seized their welcoming invitation to come and check out their home town, the slightly less frequented neighbour of nearby Niagara Falls. Not initially on our agenda, without the invitation we would have bypassed what turned out to be a city steeped in fabulous Art Deco architecture, wild west history and locals with a deep pride and passion for the place.
We made the requisite stop for Buffalo wings at the famous ‘Anchor Bar’. Whilst the locals would strongly disagree that this is the best place for wings, Anchor Bar do strongly claim to have invented them, and they were bloody tasty. One bite into the golden deep fried crunchy exterior led to the oh-so juicy goodness of tender chicken meat beneath, and Matt’s face was soon covered in an equal measure of grease and ranch sauce. A word of advice, a half dozen is good to share for two, and always go for the spicy ones.
We then spent the night in good company and good conversation with our new friends and some of their friends over beers and BBQ (with Sean requesting Matt to provide his Aussie BBQ input) in a house that was just short of a mansion. Once the sun set we were taken on a stroll across town to Delaware Park for an awesome evening of free Shakespeare in the park, catching the last half of ‘A Comedy of Errors’. We’d been talking about doing the Regents Park theatre in London for years, but at £20-£45 a ticket we were more than happy to take in a well delivered performance gratis (ca ching!). The walk home steered us past a beautiful lake right to the foot of Buffalo’s very own bronze life size statue of Michaelangelo’s David (small willy and all). Who knew! Arriving home mum and bub put themselves to bed and Sean led us upstairs, then upstairs again, where the next hour or so was spent with beers, paintbrushes and palette in hand collaborating on what was to become Sean’s next piece of art on the back of an old door. We’re not sure if our contributions will help to win any Turner prizes in the near future, and Sean may have woken up with some major rectifications to make, but we had a great time anyway. Art school 1-0-1, check.
With Sean being whisked away the next morning to join the working class, Myriah and little Henry took it upon themselves to give us the la grande tour of Buffalo, warts ‘n’ all. Our first stop was the striking yet sombre 17 story Central Terminal Station. What sets it apart is not only it’s grand Art Deco architecture, but the fact that it is completely abandoned and derelict. Having been built in 1929 it hasn’t been in use since 1979. Perhaps due to being in a derelict neighbourhood and it’s lengthy proximity from the downtown area it’s never been redeveloped, however plans have been instigated to re-establish the area. Being such a dominantly striking building within the landscape, we hope these plans do come to fruition. Taking in some more rundown neighbourhoods of the city on the way to downtown, we were in awe of some of the absolutely stunning architecture which has oft been demolished in the past in other US cities but luckily still survives in Buffalo.
Next stop was the Buffalo City Hall, where we were summonsed over by a chap named James sweeping at the front steps. James proceeded to give us an insight into not only several significant features within the building itself, but also various architectural beauties around town and a great local recommendation for food (which even Myriah knew) – Charlie the Butcher. Stationed most famously at the Historic Ellicott Square Building, apparently his roast beef and horseradish sandwiches are to die for, with horseradish strong enough to burn your nostrils clean and send any sinus cold you’re suffering from straight to cold heaven. With a deadline to meet and time running out we regrettably had to pass, but if you’ve been lucky enough to try them leave us a comment and let us know how it was!
Lucky enough to have some local insight, we felt we got to see a few parts of the town that would not otherwise be on the tourist map. As part of the US ‘rustbelt’, it’s promising to hear of the plans to use the local medical campus to help rejuvenate and draw young people back to the town. Buffalo’s future certainly looks a lot brighter now than it has in the past, so if you’re in the area exploring the grand Niagara Falls make sure you stop by for the wings and stay for the rest. You won’t be disappointed!
On a side note, Sean and Myriah will soon be opening a new restaurant in town so stay tuned as this post will be updated with more information. They’re a great couple and we’re sure the place will be amazing.