The Lodge: Dining Evolved

Ever since opening, there’s been a lot of well-deserved hype revolving around Chippewa’s newest destination, The Lodge. My first glimpse of the finished restaurant was a photo that I saw on Facebook (lead image) that generated quite a buzz. It was just today that I saw the place in person, after heading over to grab lunch. Before sitting down to the bar for a meal, I decided to take a walk around to see all of the features that had come together to comprise what some people are now calling “The anchor of Chippewa”.

The-Lodge-decor-Buffalo-NY-1

Not only is The Lodge designed in a vibrant, warm and welcoming manner, it does something very unique for downtown Buffalo. It has been able to smoothly cross over from restaurant (during the day/evening) to lounge-style, atmospheric post-dinner club (after 11pm)… and even then it retains an ‘upscaleness’ about itself that will appeal to an older crowd of Buffalonians looking to venture onto the street for a quality night out.

I spoke to General Manager Liz Warden who told me that she felt that the vibe The Lodge is delivering has been lacking in Buffalo. “We’re an upscale restaurant without being pretentious,” she explained. “We have the ability to draw and retain the business crowd for lunch, happy hour and dinner, carrying the restaurant theme on until we transition into a lounge-like setting. But even at that point we retain the upscale atmosphere… nothing rowdy and nothing drunk.”

The Lodge could have gone overboard with campy outdoor decorations, but instead it created a beautifully lit, swank 6000 square foot, rustic-meets-polished dining experience unlike anything else in the city. The attention to detail is a welcome surprise for visitors who can be seen staring at the shimmering artistically decorated acoustic tiles (as if lit by the sun reflecting off rippling water) on the ceiling, or gazing at the ever-changing woodlands behind the bar (lit by LEDs). A cleverly elevated lounge platform acts as a room divider between the massive bar and the sidewalk seating area (with clear garage doors that open to the street on warm days). The above-mentioned platform doubles as a stage. Other atmospheric design touches include a set of mason jars with electric fireflies ‘trapped’ inside, and retro TV sets showing old ski instructional videos and retro camping lodge movies (I could do without the hunting shows on one of the flat screens above the bar, but that’s just a personal preference).

The-Lodge-decor-Buffalo-NY-4

As I walked through The Lodge, from the front to the back, past the bar and the booths, and up the stairs to the game room and the Ice Bar, the transitioning stages of design (referred to climates) are inescapable.

The-Lodge-decor-Buffalo-NY-3

One half of the upstairs has been fashioned  to be a bit more playful, with games such as skee ball and a pool table, with old TVs playing throwback cartoons. Then, towards the back of the second floor is the Ice Bar, where many of the corporate parties have already been booked.

The-Lodge-decor-Buffalo-NY-2

As one of the the servers put it so well, “The Lodge is like an Instagram goldmine!” It’s true. Everywhere you look there is a lighting element, or a water feature, or a TV set playing “snow” with The Lodge logo on it, or a branchelier (the more updated version of antler chandeliers, although there are plenty of those too). There’s even a handsome patio overlooking Chippewa outfitted with foliage and dining tables – not a bad view either.

The-Lodge-decor-Buffalo-NY-5

The food at The Lodge matches the setting well. There’s something for just about everyone… even a vegetarian. You can get mix and match sliders (veggie burger to bison), or a soft shell po boy, a BLTE (the “E” is for fried egg), lobster mac and cheese, pan roasted striped bass, wild mushroom strudel (yummy), blackened fish tacos (also yummy)… there’s also Buffalo style chicken wings and shrimp, and even a stag on a stick (you can figure that one out). For the ravenous The Lodge has entrees ranging from from beef tenderloin seared ahi tuna, and for the pickers there are small plates, soups and salads. Chef Fortune Macri has dubbed the eating affair as “Bold New American” cuisine, dedicated to the best of American fare, with a healthy dose of world influences.

Menu-1

Menu-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, we are seeing a continued evolution of the Chippewa restaurant scene, with this latest entry doing a smashing job at helping to elevate the dining-over-drinking scene on the street. Not to say that there won’t be plenty of time to belly up to the bar at The Lodge, it’s just that we’re seeing the district grow up in front of our eyes. Now there are a few different eating destinations on Chippewa that appeal to the well heeled traveler, rather than a one-dimensional, party-centric bar hopper.

Interior design by Rohit Kapoor | Artwork by Crystal Dickey | Artwork by Rita Wojcik (RRKW Photo)

The Lodge | 79 West Chippewa Street | Buffalo NY | 716-256-1940 | Facebook | Open seven days a week

 

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

14 comments
Buffalonian
Buffalonian

Outstanding... !
Looking forward to some skee-ball Saturday night.

JoeMecca
JoeMecca

We went to The Lodge last Saturday to watch the Sabres preseason game. It was a long series of events that led us to decide to go here (preseason tickets were too expensive, Tappo didn't have the game on and 67 West had a private party), but we sure were glad we stopped by. Drinks were average priced (4-5 bucks for beer/mixed etc) and it had a nice atmosphere. We will definitely be stopping back.

elmdog
elmdog

Looking outside the box and creating something that normally doesn't fit the mold is exactly what we need more of...If people continue to think Buffalo is only chicken wings and 4 am bars with drunks then that's what we are... I don't know if this will last but I give a ton of credit to these guys for going above and beyond to try and create a vibe for the city...

RohitK
RohitK

So much of the credit here goes to all of the local artists, (Crystal Dickey, Rita Kapoor, David Kozka, Shawn Huntington, Michael Sprada) resident DJ Mike Wojick, Managers Joe and LIz, and every person behind the bar and at a table who add the personal touch that makes the place, the video artist Jeffery Proctor, and my friend and immensely talented lighting designer cohort, Brian Tovar. And, the local and NYC crew who worked tirelessly to make it happen. And most importantly, the owners, (Adam March, Dan Valentine, Peter Altholz, and Neil Kapoor) who took a huge financial risk, pushed the boundaries of Buffalo's comfort zone, and truly created a classy, metropolitan style space. Born and raised in Buffalo but now living in NYC for the past 8 years, I have my fair share of gripes and opinions about Buffalo, but a team like this will be a huge part of advancing it's already diverse cultural and entertainment offerings. Even though I live in NYC and have pretty much commuted for the past ten months to design this thing, I hate it when people in Buffalo proclaim things in comparison to NYC; like saying "Buffalo's only NYC style restaurant" etc.; this is not a "NYC Style" establishment; this is a vibrant metropolitan establishment forged around the belief that a booming city life is possible in Buffalo. It is distinctly Buffalo, and awesome, and I'm so glad to have been a part of it. Thanks to Buffalo rising for a great article that explored the space through the context of Buffalo and avoided the urge to compare it to places in other cities; this place stands on it's own and needs no comparison, and people from NYC should be coming TO Buffalo to check it out! Can't wait for what is planned next. ;-) - Rohit

PeterAltholz
PeterAltholz

Full disclosure, I'm one of the owners of The Lodge...

Great article! The Lodge, along with other dining venues (Bacchus, Soho, etc.) and larger development projects (Avant, Delaware Court, etc.) truly have the opportunity to change the landscape of Chippewa forever.

Now that Bacchus has taken over the old Third Room space, Mighty Taco is in the La Luna space, Soho is now a restaurant, The Lodge has taken over the Bayou/McMonkeez space, and larger development projects like the Avant and Delaware court are bringing in hotels like Embassy Suites to compliment the area's offerings, we are starting to see Buffalo's "Entertainment District" blossom into the beautiful creature it always had potential to be.

I think it's fine to have bars & nightclubs in the area, but they need to be mixed in with restaurants, hotels, and retail to distance the area from being considered "nightlife exclusive."

Thanks to all the customers who have already  patronized The Lodge and thanks to Buffalo Rising for covering our renovation.  I encourage everyone to check us out during our "soft open" phase going on now and look forward to our Grand Opening happening in mid-October!

CSarkosian
CSarkosian

The one thing I can say about Buffalo is its food. its not 4 star michilen. We do not have our own cuisine like Italy or France nor are we organic foodies like California.

Yet Buffalo, for its size and population, does have a lot of people that have a very special relationship with food.

It kinda makes you wonder how a city with such a special and close relationship with food had to get a common council to change zoning for an urban farm, to raise chickens, etc. One would think every house would have some sort of garden and fruit tree and people would be meeting at the coffee houses to discuss their gardening tips.

That said, Buffalo welcomes another restaurant into its fold and a beautiful restaurant it is...

Cam33r4
Cam33r4

Looks awesome!  I look forward to trying this place soon!

PeterAltholz
PeterAltholz

@RohitK Rohit Kapoor deserves more credit than I'm sure he will ever publicly receive, but every person who enters The Lodge and says "wow!" is another testament to his superior ability to transform a "space" into an environment with a personality and heart.

Couldn't agree more with the constant comparisons to other cities. The fact that we have such a gem in the heart of downtown, just steps from visiting hotel guests and the theater district & sports arena is a blessing.  I couldn't think of a better ambassador to greet out-of-towners and locals alike than The Lodge's interior, cuisine, and beverage offerings.

Not to take anything away from the other establishments in downtown that are popping up like daffodils in March:  Seabar, Tappo, Osteria, Bacchus, Soho, Papaya, Liberty Hound, Chocolate Bar, etc. etc. Too many to name... it's a great time to be in Buffalo, here's to looking at the future!

BeardedBuffalonian
BeardedBuffalonian

@PeterAltholz 

Peter you killed it. I was very skeptical at first, but after swining in last Friday, my friends and I were blown away. The Lodge has a very upscale NYC/Toronto feel to it. I wish you the best of luck and we'll see you this Friday for dinner reservations for 7, at 7:30.

GotAnyChange
GotAnyChange

Did you happen to get the wooden semicircle chair from 27/cocou on chandler? Saw them there when i went. Another buffalo treasure ; )

BeardedBuffalonian
BeardedBuffalonian

@PeterAltholz @BeardedBuffalonian 

Peter, I know you're not fully operational yet, but I wanted to share my experience with you. Myself and 5 friends attended The Lodge for dinner on Friday and we not too impressed. Our meals took over an hour and twenty minutes to come out after we ordered them, then our appetizers came out with the main course, along with a steak sandwich with one piece of cheese, two or three peppers and no steak sauce :-( Other than that the place looks cool, but I'd def work on the service aspect of the restaurant.

© 2014 Hyperlocal Media. All Rights Reserved.