Anchor Bar vs. Duff’s: The Buffalo Wing Showdown

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 | Posted under New York State, On the Road


I definitely was not going all the way to Buffalo and not eat what it’s known for: its wings! I do enjoy most spicy things, and wings are most definitely on the list. Our hosts, The Profs, made sure we got to try two of Buffalo’s most famous wing joints: Anchor Bar and Duff’s.

To be quite honest with you, I’m not really sure which I liked better. Is that bad? Let me tell you about each, and let you know what I thought their strengths were.
Anchor Bar claims to be to the originator of the Buffalo wing, and it’s located right in downtown Buffalo. While they are known for their wings, they also make a range of what I would call “bar food” and Italian dishes. I would say come here if you’re in a “wings plus” mood.

We had (Guess!!)….
Wings!

Fried Fish and French Fries (in Buffalo called a Fish Fry)


Onion Rings

Totally healthy, right? HA!
Since Husband J was with us, we had to go easy with the spice. We only got them with medium sauce. Between me and you, I didn’t think it was very spicy. The wings themselves were good. Perfectly crispy and lightly spiced with tender meat. Score one for Anchor.
Fish and chips or a “fish fry” is actually a very popular dish in Buffalo. On almost any Friday, restaurants all over the city, regardless of cuisine, will offer fried fish to their customers. Buffalonians will search high and low for their favorite fish fry. Thanks to The Profs for letting me know about this local tradition. I actually really like Anchor’s fried fish. It wasn’t breaded but actually this all-compassing crust. Most definitely fried fish I could eat on a regular basis, as I am not a fan of heavy handed breading.
We were prepared for lots eating on this trip, and the next day we made our way to the original Duff’s location in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo.

I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday afternoon or because it was a totally different style of restaurant, but Duff’s felt decidedly different from Anchor. There was a much smaller menu, and it was really focused on wings with maybe a few other things. You could also tell that this place had more locals. Because of its name and downtown location, Anchor tends to attract more tourists, at least that’s my impression.
So we had…..
Big surprise, right? Medium wings
Medium Mild wings

Also some of you might recognize someone who came to Duff’s relatively recently:
President Barack Obama
The President stopped at Duff’s after he made a speech on the economy here in the Buffalo area.

Anyway, The Profs and Husband J thought that Duff’s wings were fresher in general, and you could tell the attention that they put into each plate. We got medium and medium hot. Honestly, I didn’t really see much of a difference in the spice levels. We all agreed that the medium tasted spicier than the medium hot! Err??? I did have major issues with was the fact that the medium hot tasted like the wings were doused in vinegar. It was so tart that I was actually smacking my lips! Uhhh…no. Not a fan of that.

So you’re in the Buffalo area, which one should you choose? Ask yourself what kind of experience you want.
Ambiance: Do you want more of a bar atmosphere with the possibility of live music that could be compared to a Hard Rock Cafe (at least on Saturday night anyway)? Anchor Bar. Duff’s was more low-key and definitely for the locals.
More than Wings?: Anchor Bar. It’s got a full menu.
Cleanliness: Duff’s. Anchor was fine, but the floors were a little scruffy when we went that night.
Spice Variety: Duff’s. Duff’s has at least six gradations of heat for their wings. If you can take spice like me, I would flirt with the hot.
Which is the best? I’m not sure. Sorry to be wishy-washy, but these are still some of the best wings I’ve ever tasted. You won’t go wrong either way.
Anyone been to Anchor Bar, Duff’s or both? What are your thoughts?
Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street
Buffalo, New York

Duff’s (the original location, there are multiple)
3651 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, New York

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Zoning Out in Arizona – A Slow Day at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 | Posted under Arizona, Hotels, On the Road

Phoenix seems like it is a nice place. I say “seem” because I didn’t really get to see much of it outside of what I caught driving through the city to our hotel and a few other places.

For some reason, I had brought all of the rain and cool weather to the desert from New York. I couldn’t believe the thunderstorms and downpours we experienced in Phoenix for our one day there. Added to the fact that Phoenix didn’t strike me as a place to wander around on foot, we ended up spending much of our day in Husband J’s hotel room (I was leaving the next day). Well actually, I watched TV and read, whileHusband J worked remotely. I did wander some around the hotel though.
For his conference, Husband J got to stay at the Arizona Biltmore. It is a beautiful hotel that takes you back in time with its architecture. The grounds are meticulously maintained; and, in addition to the hotel, there is a planned community of gorgeous homes and a world-class golf course.
The pool area. Very Art Deco 1920’s looking, isn’t it? I picture old Hollywood actresses wearing classic bathing suits and sunning themselves here.
I got a kick out of this life-size chess set. There were checkers there too in case that’s your preferred game.


So, can you tell that I like these?

Of course after exploring the hotel, I did not take a picture of our room. It was a pretty standard one but most definitely spacious. If anything, it was freezing in there from the air conditioning and cool temperatures from outside and therefore not particularly comfortable. I spent a good part of the afternoon under the covers in bed.

Regardless of your day, you have to eat some time. We stayed onsite and ate at Frank & Albert’s for lunch. We were a part of a group of people that sat outside even with ominous rain clouds slowly moving towards us. I wanted to sit outside because I knew that this could possibly be my last meal outside for 2010.
For lunch we had:
Smashed avocados (not guacamole mind you!) made with cilantro + jalepeno with perfectly warmed tortilla chips


Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with cracked crab and smashed avocado for me.

I loved this dish. I was not upset by all of the avocado I was eating for lunch as I can eat them ALL day long. The gazpacho need a bit more seasoning, but I loved the texture and its refreshing flavor.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad (pulled chicken, cabbage, crispy corn noodles, candied cashews, carrots and creamy Pineapple-Ginger dressing) for Husband J

In between bites of salad, a conference call and several furtive glances and sighs directed towards his Blackberry, Husband J said it was good. That’s all I got out of him. I tasted a few bites, and it was definitely a standard healthy chicken salad (maybe minus the creamy dressing). Again, some seasoning would have been helpful.

After an afternoon of watching lots of ESPN (a girl has got to keep up with her Fantasy Football team), we headed over to The Phoenician resort and hotel for a tasting event and dinner at J & G Steakhouse. The Phoenician is FANCY and was actually the site of Husband J.’s conference. I’ll talk about J & G Steakhouse in another post.

The Phoenician’s absolutely fabulous pool area. No more rain!

One thing I will tell you is that I normally won’t eat at hotel restaurants in a new city unless they are relatively known. I’d rather just go to restaurant in a fun part of town and get a sense for the area. Why did we not do this in Phoenix? Well, traditionally most restaurants are CLOSED on MONDAY nights. I have to admit that I had not really experienced that before. When I kept researching places for us to eat that night, I kept seeing a pattern all over again: Closed on Monday, Closed on Monday, Closed on Monday…I figured if we ate at a hotel, we’d be able to find some food somewhere. 🙂

I hope I’ll get another chance someday to hang out in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Maybe not on a Monday? Just kidding! 🙂
Do restaurants in your city collectively close on Monday (or any other days for that matter?)? Have you ever traveled with a significant other, family member or friend and work got in the way?

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Back from Desert!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 | Posted under Arizona, Hotels, On the Road

Hellloooo!

I’m back from my little jaunt to the Phoenix area/Grand Canyon. What a spectacularly beautiful area of the country! I really enjoyed seeing such a different landscape from what we have here in the Northeast, USA. Hopefully, Husband J and I will get back to Arizona some time soon. While I continue to work on my computer issues, here’s a look at what we enjoyed on our trip:
The life-sized chess set at the Arizona Biltmore hotel

A taste of parmesan risotto at J & G Steakhouse at The Phoenician resort

Does this look familiar? One of many pics I have of the Grand Canyon

As I said before, I’m still trying to sort out my computer issues, but I’ll be posting as much as I can this week. It’s good to be back home and blogging again!
I hope all is well wherever you are!

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On The Road – Good Stuff Eatery, Washington, DC

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 | Posted under Family and Friends, On the Road, Reviews

Hey, all!

I was sitting writing a post, and then I thought to myself “Am I boring them with all of these Bali posts?” 🙂 No seriously, I thought I would take a break from writing about Bali to let you all know about my trip to the Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, DC. Good Stuff is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood steps away from the Library of Congress and the House of Representatives office buildings. It’s a burger joint emphasizing quality, local, mostly organic ingredients in an effort to produce the quick, tasty comfort food we all enjoy. Good Stuff was founded by Chef Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef’s Season 4 in Chicago. He’s also in the process of opening a pizza place that will be next door to Good Stuff called We, the Pizza. DC folks, I expect reports! 😉
Thanks to Ms. C of US Meets UK (or Mrs. D’Orsay for those of you who read Weddingbee.com) for introducing me to Good Stuff as well as Husband J’s friend (and my friend too!), Davey, for accompanying me on my second trip. By the way, I’m supposed to mention Davey’s business, Blue Stone Logic. What you do for friends. 🙂
I lived in DC pretty briefly several years ago and didn’t really make it over to Capitol Hill much, so I am now glad for an excuse to get over there. Yes, that’s right. I love Good Stuff so much that I think I will probably have to find a way to go there each time I’m in DC.
Why?
1. Good Burgers
I am still not there yet on eating ground beef, but luckily Good Stuff will make turkey burger versions of all of its burgers. If you want simple and delicious go for the Farmhouse burgers like Ms. C and her dear husband did, which have the basic toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle served on a bun with “Good Stuff” sauce (not sure what that is, really). Bacon and cheese are optional.
Personally, I like my burgers with STUFF on it. The more the better. Pile it on. It was hard to choose though from amongst the Original burgers group, but I went with the President Obama burger (a turkey, not ground beef, version) both times I went. This burger’s got Applewood bacon, onion marmelade, Roquefort cheese, and horseradish mayo sauce. I added some ketchup on there too. Not much is needed though because the toppings are more than enough.
Here it is in all its glory

So the first time I went to Good Stuff, when I quickly tore into the wrapping I thought: “This is it? It’s so small.” My friends, that’s a good thing. As Davey and I discussed during our visit, we are tired of burgers that make you feel like you need a new jaw after you’re done eating them. I call the Good Stuff burgers “pre-smashed” to perfection. All I can say is that all of the toppings on the Prez Obama worked into this mini-chorus of all of the things you’d want on a burger: a hint of smokiness from the bacon, sweetness from the onion marmalade, a little kick from the horseradish and lots of saltiness to highlight the meat.
Davey got the Spike’s Sunnyside burger with Applewood bacon, a fried egg and Good Stuff sauce.
Davey’s Spike’s Sunnyside Burger from the inside out

Davey told me that his burger was “super good” and that the fried egg worked well on the burger. Sometimes fried egg just kinda slips and slides around, but Good Stuff’s version seems to work. While I didn’t taste Davey’s version for myself, he says that it’s up there with many of the better burgers he’s had.
2. Good Sides
The first time I went to Good Stuff, I was hungry. I’d been on an overly long bus ride with no lunch. I didn’t really care if my meal was going to be kinda large, since I pretty much had an empty stomach. Given the circumstances, I managed to have my own fries and not feel overly full. The fries come in a couple of varieties with just sea salt or some with additional thyme and rosemary.
My suggestion to you is to get a few of the bad ass aioli-like sauces that are right next to where you pick up the ketchup. I tried the Old Bay and the Sriracha, which made me fall in love with it, a nice combo of not too much hot spice and creaminess. If you are looking for crispy fries, I would move on, but these do the job well being not too greasy and small enough to pop in your mouth by the very large handful.
My fries with aioli

On my trip with Davey, we ended up getting the chili. I’ve already mentioned my occasional worries with ground beef, but I dug in anyway. There was definitely BEEF in there, hunks of it. I’m not a big chili person, and even I was won over. The chili also came up with warm, moist corn bread sweetened just a touch.

3. Good Shakes.
Okay. I’ve only had the toasted marshmallow shake the two times I went. I usually don’t get into hyperbole here, but it’s about to end right now. OMG! These shakes are the best shakes I have ever tasted in my entire life. It’s like God sent down a perfect milkshake from heaven like manna. Okay. Hyperbolic moment over! Just imagine slurping the right amount of sweet cream, with a hint of butter and just enough sweetness to make you swoon and add in some smokiness from the real toasted marshmallow.
I thought about this shake for days afters. Okay fine…for a week after. I just want to say that if care anything about your caloric intake, then definitely get the child-size version of the shake because the regular size is its own meal. I’m not even kidding. My stomach hurt after eating a full meal and THEN having a super behemoth shake. My advice is to plan your meal with the shake in mind as they are not to be missed.
The child-size Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

A close up

Overall, I do loves me some Good Stuff! Ms. C did mention that as a frequent Good Stuff customer the quality can vary depending on the visit. Look, I’m just happy that this place is far away from me in DC even though I encouraged Chef Spike, who was there on my first visit, to open one in Brooklyn. Hold off, Chef Spike! I want to be able to fit into my clothes.

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