Buffalo, NY for Gardening Club
My wife is running a trip to Buffalo / Rochester / Niagara Falls for the Hardy Plant Society, a group of ladies (average age well into the 70s) who are mainly there to see gardens but who like nice dinners. She is looking for upscale dining options, not necessarily extravagant, but price is not a major consideration, in the Buffalo, NY area.
Two names that have come up from the local gardeners are Place Grille and Harry's Harbor. Would any local CH comment on these, or suggest alternatives in the same general area.
Francis (a NYer in exile in SE Pennsylvania)
Hello Francis, and welcome To Buffalo/Niagara.
I hope your wife is coming for GardenWalk.
There are a great number of casual and fine dining eateries in our region, and you may need to provide a bit more information for me to make specific restaurant recommendations. You did not mention what areas of town you would prefer, type of experience you were looking for, or what style of cuisine everyone likes.
If you would like to provide more information, I would be happy to make some personal suggestions. Otherwise, here is where you should continue your research.
I am taking some ( perhaps unjust) presumptions about gardeners that are "well into the 70's", but my guess is that they would be a little less interested in ethnic food or molecular gastronomy, and a little more interested in traditional American cuisine with a wide variety.
Though I once took a large party of out-of-town relatives to Harry's Harbour for dinner on the river, and had a fabulous experience, I have since heard some mixed reviews of spotty quality and service, from friends whose food opinions I trust. But I think you may be on the right track about a restaurant with a view...
I would strongly suggest that you start at Bill Rappaport's Buffalo Restaurant Guide. His website is a good introduction to many restaurants in our region. You may find it helpful, because you can search for restaurants by cuisine, or by neighborhood, for example "on the waterfront"
Some people find this local magazine helpful, though I think it is especially topical to Locals looking for new & trendy, and may not be as helpful to visiting out-of-towners. I also think, that in their mission to promote the City of Buffalo, they unjustly neglect reporting on the suburbs of Buffalo.
I hope your wife enjoys her stay. Buffalo is a beautiful region in the summer and has many fine gardens.
Just as an aside, the Botanical Garden in South Buffalo and the gardens up along the Niagara Parkway (Canadian side) are both places that would be well worth a visit. If the canadian side is a possible, Niagara on the Lake has some wonderful restaurants - not to mention wineries.
I never heard of Place Grille and would skip Harry's Harbor. Rue Franklin (French, on Franklin) and Lombardo (upscale Italian, on Hertel) both have good food in a calm, mature atmosphere. As the other poster mentioned, Bill Rappaport's is a good place to start, although the opinions are those of a wide spectrum.
Thanks, all, for your help. I have passed this on to my wife, and looked into Bill Rappaport's guide, which looks like it is (a) up-to-date and (b) the most widely referred to guide on Buffalo dining. Yes, there will be one day in Canada with a meal at Niagara-on-the-Lake. We have a friend who teaches at UB and she had put us on to Rue Franklin, but it was not open for lunch.
In any event, thanks again, and be on the lookout for a bunch of elderly garden-seeking ladies in late June.
If they are definitely going to lunch in Niagara-On-The-Lake, I would strongly recommend the Shaw Cafe. Food and drink is always good, and they have beautiful al fresco dining with gorgeous plantings and potted plants.
Also very good is the restaurant at the winery Hillebrand.
Though I would only go for the lunch menu. The dinner menu can be quite pricey.