Cozy Corners at Hotel Henry

Hotel Henry opened at the Richardson Olmsted Complex almost two years ago, but I didn’t have the chance to explore until a few months ago. I met Andrea just inside the impressive glass entrance for an early morning photo shoot on a grey day perfect for exploring.

The Complex as a whole and the building that houses the hotel have a long, complicated, emotional history. Hotel Henry has been beautifully restored and is now home to wedding receptions, Sunday brunch and weekend retreats.

Andrea and I took advantage of the beautiful nooks and crannies throughout the first few floors of the hotel for some cozy photos. I’m pretty happy behind the camera, but letting someone else be the photographer for the day is outside my comfort zone. Andrea was so easy to work with and we had a great time, helped by delicious coffee from Henry’s adorable espresso counter.

Check out some of my favorite shots from the morning:

Cozy photo session at Hotel Henry in Buffalo, NY

hotel-henry-cozy-2-min

Cozy photo session at Hotel Henry in Buffalo, NY

The Dreamiest Brunch in Buffalo

Buffalo is a small enough city that when a new restaurant opens, especially a photo-worthy one, you hear about it. More than a year after Rowhouse‘s opening in 2017, people are still talking about (and taking pictures of) it.

I had yet to stop in until this weekend, when a friend from high school home for the holidays mentioned she wanted to try one of the “best spots” Buffalo had to offer. We opted for brunch rather than pastries from the case, because we had a lot of catching up to do. Plus, who could not want to spend as much time as possible in this beautiful space, still decorated for Christmas?

Eating upstairs at Rowhouse in Allentown, Buffalo, NY

A Historic Home

One of my favorite things about Buffalo is how old it is. The power and wealth concentrated in this city at the turn of the century fascinates me. Buffalo’s residents and visitors are still benefiting from the architecture, art and advancements these families left behind.

Rowhouse takes its name from its home in a trio of row houses along Delaware Ave. called Midway Plaisance. This block of homes is unique in Buffalo, a city of sprawling mansions and even larger lawns. Just blocks away, the heart of Allentown is filled with stately homes and Millionaire’s Row, also on Delaware Ave., is a short drive away. However, as Buffalo’s downtown grew north, wealthy families opted for a style of building seen in other crowded cities in the late 1800s: the row house.

Row houses along Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, NY

The beautiful restaurant, cafe and bar calls three of the 11 remaining row houses home. The heart of Rowhouse was built for Dr. Bernard Bartow, a co-founder of Children’s Hospital, and converted into commercial space almost a century ago. Arches that mirror the massive front door open into the buildings on either side, which now house a cafe, lunch counter and cocktail bar.

I can’t imagine this building as the home it was built to be, because it is so good at being a cozy restaurant and event space.

A Seasonal Menu

We settled into a small table on the second floor and ordered lattes to enjoy while deciding on food. On a cold day filled with flurries, the brunch menu of stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods made with local ingredients sounded delicious.

Latte at Rowhouse in Buffalo, NY

We both settled with the quiche of the day, which came out of the kitchen spotted with sweet potatoes, onions and Brussels sprouts. It was just the right amount of food to go with our conversation on everything from engagement rings to health insurance, and all the things 20-something millennials worry about in between.

Of course, a latte with brunch didn’t quite feel like enough caffeine for a trip to Target on the Saturday after Christmas, so I ordered a drip coffee from the cafe to go. The dark roast blend was delicious and provided the perfect prop for a few more pictures.

Coffee at the counter at Rowhouse in Buffalo, NY

Pastries stacked at Rowhouse's cafe

Cocktail lounge at Rowhouse in Allentown, Buffalo, NY

Playing Tourist for a Morning

When my sister Paige comes home from Salem, it’s usually for a holiday. So, when she spent a weekend at home just because this fall, we had to head downtown for a little sightseeing. We packed three tourist-worthy stops into just a couple hours.

Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck

This has been on my Buffalo bucket list for years. We finally made it to the 28th floor of Buffalo City Hall, which offers 360° views of the city, both inside and out. Of course, it was cold on the ground and even colder 350 feet up. But what is a late-fall morning in Buffalo without a brisk breeze? 

The bird’s eye view isn’t the only thing to look at here. The murals in the lobby, ornate Art Deco elevators and location on Niagara Square add to the draw of City Hall. 

View of Buffalo from City Hall Observation Deck
View of Buffalo from City Hall Observation Deck

Public Espresso + Coffee

Paige wanted to see Jaime Schmidt’s new murals, which weren’t a part of the space last time she had free time in town. So, we walked to Hotel @ The Lafayette from City Hall for lunch and coffee. 

PSL at Public Espresso + Coffee

The best part about Public is how immediately you feel at home. Everyone is always so friendly, which is something I really value as a tourist, even in my own city. The amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup didn’t hurt.

Wildflowers for Buffalo

Just a block from Public is another piece of art that I wanted to see, Louise Jones’s Wildflowers for Buffalo. 

Louise Jones's Wildflowers for Buffalo

It seems like every time I blink, Buffalo’s collection of public art is more impressive. To be good tourists, we had to check out one of the newest pieces. The purple coneflowers (which my mom grew dozens of while we were growing up) looked stunning against the blue sky, despite the freezing cold wind.

A Classic Birthday Buffalo Brewery Tour

We have visited a lot of Buffalo’s craft breweries but never organized a proper brewery tour – until a few weeks ago. To celebrate Cody and his brother’s birthday, as well as a friend’s upcoming move, we rented a big yellow school bus and hit some of our favorite breweries.

1. 12 Gates Brewing Company

It’s still weird that 12 Gates is in an industrial park. However, I’ve never received bad service here and our brewery tour was no exception. We were the only group in the taproom, so I didn’t feel bad about tasting some new brews. The Coffee Porter on nitro was everything I wanted it to be on a cold, rainy day.

Coffee Porter on nitro at 12 Gates, Buffalo, NY

2. Flying Bison Brewing Company

I don’t have a go-to beer here, so I usually branch out a little bit more than other breweries. This time, I tried the Bisonberry Kolsch, which was refreshing after the creamy porter.

Stained glass logo at Flying Bison, Buffalo, NY

We ordered pizza and had it delivered here, which is, according to the Carbone’s delivery driver, totally fine. The pizza was delicious and tasted great with the beer.

3. Community Beer Works

Alpaca Porter and beer list at Community Beer Works, Buffalo, NY

I can’t get over how welcoming CBW’s new space is. It’s the perfect mix of good beer, repurposed industrial space, games and natural light. We stayed here for a drink (I had an Alpaca Porter) and a few more friends of friends joined our group.

4. Resurgence Brewing Company

Resurgence’s beer isn’t my favorite, but their space is an awesome place to end a brewery tour. Morgan, Shannon and I split a flight while watching a few intense games of giant Jenga. My personal favorite was, of course, Vanilla Cappuccino Pumpkin Ale.

Pumpkin Ale at Resurgence, Buffalo, NY

It was nice to visit some oldies-but-goodies, especially with Buffalo getting so many new breweries in the coming months.

I wouldn’t have changed anything about the breweries we visited or the order we visited them in. Coming from the Northtowns, we didn’t have time to fit all the breweries downtown or in South Buffalo. There are so many good options north of downtown I really didn’t feel like we missed out.

My Favorite Sunday Funday this Summer

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect summertime Sunday Funday. For some, it’s a wine tour, or an hours-long brunch, or enough time and energy to deep clean the kitchen. While I love all of those things, they aren’t my idea of the perfect Sunday.

This summer, my favorite Sunday caught me by surprise. Everything about it was last minute, which made it that much more special.

AHTC’s Summer Sizzler

Getting up at 5:30 am probably isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but I’m willing to wake up just about any time of day for horses. I just never outgrew the horse-crazy phase. On this particular Sunday, I arrived at a (super duper casual) horse show at 6:30 am with zero expectations.

I rode possibly the sweetest, prettiest paint, Trent, who I’ve come to love but didn’t really know all that well a few months ago. The weather was perfect, my parents stopped by to see us ride and our performance wasn’t too shabby either. It also doesn’t hurt that Trent receives a compliment about how cute he is approximately once every three minutes. I know they’re not talking about me, but positive energy is positive energy.

Trent at AHTC's Summer Sizzler

Buffalo Brewing Company

After the show, I headed home way earlier than I thought I would. Cody and I couldn’t let the rest of what had turned into a beautiful day get away from us. We’re slowly getting to every brewery in Buffalo and decided to check another off the list. This time, we opted for Buffalo Brewing Company.

Beer garden at Buffalo Brewing Company

1842 Vienna Lager at Buffalo Brewing Company

Their small tasting room and shaded outdoor space offered a lovely breeze that kept us comfortable. We ordered inside before claiming a spot in two of the beer garden’s Adirondack chairs. The tap room was out of the 1856 Cran-Raz Wheat, so I went with a pint of the 1842 Vienna Lager. Cody chose a couple of the brewery’s IPAs, as per usual. All were good! I loved how each beer’s name commemorated an event in Buffalo’s history, reminding me of how LyonSmith incorporates English history into their beers’ names.

Outer Harbor

Until this particular Sunday Funday, I had never been to the Outer Harbor. Terrible, I know. After a couple of beers, we hopped on the Skyway for a nice pre-dinner bike ride on the Wellness Trail. Because of construction, the trail is currently a little short, but there are plenty of ways to bike around the peninsula.

Bike ride on the Outer Harbor Wellness Trail

Wind sculpture at Wilkeson Pointe

The fresh air, the unexpected nature of the day and dinner on the grill when we got home made this, hands down, one of my favorite days this summer. It wasn’t super special, but it included so many of the things I love about Buffalo and life, all wrapped up under a cloudless blue sky.

Root & Bloom: Vegan Comfort Food in the Comfiest Space

I am by no means vegan or even vegetarian, especially when cooking for myself. I do love my Oh She Glows cookbook, but most of the time, I find vegan recipes more complicated and intimidating than their conventional counterparts.

However, if someone else is going to cook without animal products for me, I’m all in. While Paige was home last month I recruited her to go check out Root & Bloom, one of Buffalo’s newest restaurants and its first vegan-only eatery.

Good Vibes Only

Any business that uses “Gazebo” as part of their address probably knows a thing or two about creating a unique atmosphere. Walking off of Elmwood and into the hidden, tree-lined courtyard Root & Bloom calls home feels like stepping into a secret garden. I’m not sure there’s any way to truly capture the airy space in photographs, but I sure tried.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

I just couldn’t get over the layers of the space: macrame, linen and copper on wood, lace against bark, wrought iron over pavers and brick peaking through leaves. I have a feeling that each year will lead to a cozier feel. It just seems like the kind of place where beautiful knick knacks are accepted with open arms.

The staff was friendly and when we stopped in on a Thursday night, the dinner crowd was lingering, continuing to chat over their empty plates. There was absolutely no pressure to move along or order dessert, just conversation and an itty bitty kombucha-fueled buzz.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

The Dinner Menu

Root & Bloom serves both brunch and dinner. We thought about squeezing in Sunday brunch as a family, but a weeknight dinner gave Paige and me an opportunity to wander down Elmwood before and after dinner.

The dinner menu features vegan staples (cashew cheese, tofu and jackfruit) blended into dishes even the most committed carnivore would recognize: tacos, BBQ sliders, and mac and cheese. While everything looked delicious, we both chose the Ricardo: corn tortilla tacos filled with fried avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, pickled red onions, mango rice and a habanero lime cream drizzle. Paige chose to wash her tacos down with chia citrus water, while I went for Bootleg Bucha’s blueberry lavender variety.

Root & Bloom | Vegan Restaurant | Fried Avocado Tacos

Everything was absolutely delicious, and the serving size made us glad we had parked a few blocks away!

The restaurant’s indoor space will open this fall, so Buffalo can continue to enjoy the creative vegan menu during Buffalo’s colder months. I’ll definitely be going back for more for three reasons:

  1. Brunch (no further explanation needed).
  2. A robust weekend specials menu and the Saturday night Uprooted series.
  3. The gazebo’s Instagramable aesthetic means both 1 and 2 are constantly popping up in my social media feeds!

A Day on the Lake with Brookdog Fishing Co.

I used to love fishing with my dad and sister from the dock on Keuka Lake or sitting on the bank of the Erie Canal waiting patiently to catch little sunfish. We never caught more than a couple of little guys; it didn’t matter, I liked being outside, hanging out with Paige and Dad waiting for a nibble. There was one time that I caught a (slightly) bigger fish, but in our battle over the bait, the fish won and my pole went sailing into the Canal.

In the last few years, we haven’t fished nearly as often as we used to, so Paige and I thought a fishing charter might be an awesome way to spend an afternoon together with Dad. Brookdog Fishing Co. graciously hosted our novice group (well, Dad knows what he’s doing but Paige and I were a little rusty) for an afternoon on Lake Erie with guide Ryan.

We had low expectations, primed by our years on the Canal, but even if we had way higher expectations, Ryan would have beat them. I was excited about being in the water in the middle of a rare string of 90° days in Buffalo; catching a fish or two would have been icing on the cake.

That, simply, is not Ryan’s style. He’s all about putting his clients where the fish are and making sure we have everything necessary to catch them. We launched into the Niagara River, but crowded waters made the River un-fishable. Instead, we took a quick ride into Lake Erie and fished a few different spots, starting further out in the water and then moving towards the harbor as boaters headed in for the evening.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog takes care of everything: poles, bait, baiting, unhooking, photos and bottles of water on ice. While we opted for a half-day trip on Lake Erie, Brookdog offers a ton of options, from year-round walk and wade fly fishing to multi-day charters in the region’s bigger bodies of water. Ryan’s boat is gorgeous and a really comfortable place to spend the day.

As we headed out towards the Lake, Ryan let us know what the game plan was. First, we’d find a good spot, and then we’d start fishing and shooting the shit (his words, not mine). This made me a little nervous, because he was talking to three people who are very good at sitting in silence with each other. Mom takes care of all our family’s small talk.

It turns out I was worried for nothing, because Ryan can talk about anything with anyone and he knows so much about fishing, running a small business, doing what you love and the Buffalo Niagara region that he’s willing to share. He’s fished in Buffalo forever, traveled around the world catching fish and is currently on a mission to fly fish every state in the US before turning 50.

Brookdog’s guides (Ryan, as well as his friend and business partner Nate) focus on native species, and the fish we caught in Lake Erie (smallmouth bass and freshwater drum or sheepshead) have been here for thousands of years. We caught a pretty even mix of the two using live bait, and Paige got a gorgeous white bass as well.

We didn’t look as cool as Ryan and Nate do summer fly fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Erie, but we can pretend. Also, what’s a girl gotta do to get one of those Brookdog shirts?

In our five or so hours on the water, Dad won the prize for the most fish, as well as the smallest fish. I took home the prize of the biggest fish. Paige may have only gotten two, but her patience paid off, because they were the two prettiest fish of the day.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

I went to bed feeling like I was still bobbing up and down with the lake, and woke up the next morning a little sunburned and sore (those fish are serious fighters), but that’s just the sign of a really good day on the water.

If you’re feeling like booking a trip of your own with Brookdog Fishing Co., and you should, you can do that here: https://www.brookdogfishing.com/book-fishing-trip/.

Ryan guides Buffalonians and tourists of all fishing abilities year-round, so don’t worry if your summer is already packed. He assured us that catching salmon in the fall is also pretty cool.

I received a complimentary trip with Brookdog Fishing Co. in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.