Special place holder

I’m paving another few miles of the road to hell with my good intentions to write more about the amazing high points of our last superb trip to The Consort’s birthplace, but for now I’ll just recount our independent eating. We had a perfect lunch in the cafe at the Albright-Knox Gallery after the underwhelming “Wish You Were Here” show on the art scene in the Seventies: mushroom-Gorgonzola soup and a half-BLT for me; curried lentil-chicken soup and half-turkey/sage Cheddar/cranberry mayo sandwich for Bob, complete with a waitress with a good eye and a sharp edge. We had a thank-allah-for-wine lunch at the Eagle House in Williamsville with the in-law equivalent, who was polite enough not to object when we chose it out of the Buffalo Spree listings as something very old (1828) but new to us. (This was encouraging, though: She noted that her BLT was made with iceberg while she’s become accustomed to romaine at Panera. Chain change for good?)

And we had a surreal dinner at Mother’s, which we’d heard was a favorite of local chefs and was only a block and a half or so from our sublime lodgings at the Mansion on Delaware Avenue*. It felt like a speakeasy, and we both wanted whatever our waiter was ingesting, but the food was pretty good, especially what we ordered for the Amtrak ride home the next day (hummus platter with roasted peppers, olives and pepperoncini for breakfast, trout-potato-spinach-tomato salad for lunch). Bob’s fried oysters were beyond any I ever encountered back when I reported a piece on cooked oysters for the NYT — the breading was crunchy, the centers almost creamy — and they didn’t even need the spicy dipping sauce. His grilled St. Louis-style ribs with molasses-mustard barbecue sauce were better just-made than on the train the next day, but the coleslaw with green onions held up. The same was true of the special I ordered, banana peppers stuffed with “three Italian cheeses” (and lots of bread crumbs); we should have left those behind rather than clogging the Amtrak trash chute. And I was happy enough with my portobello stuffed with sausage and laid over a tomato-cream sauce although it lacked the finesse of everything else we ordered. As always in Buffalo, the wine was cheap and generously poured. Mostly, though, I’m very glad I was the one who insisted on Anderson’s in those 2 1/2 days. A baby size of black-and-white frozen custard is always an essential ingredient.

*The Mansion is not just the best hotel in Buffalo but one of the best we’ve stayed in anywhere in the world, and I’m saying that even though we had to pay for only one night of the three there thanks to Nickel City Chef. The rooms are exquisite, but you’re encouraged to treat the whole place like home. We could work by the fireplace in the parlor in daytime and catch up on email with a glass of wine from the honor bar in the billiards/dining room at night. Unusual wines are poured for free from 5 to 7 every night, and the “butlers” are, without exception, both super-attentive and very human. Plusgastre I’m happy to report the weakest link is now much stronger: Breakfast was a good mix of savory and sweet, and the pastries have been upgraded, big time.

http://www.mansionondelaware.com/ (turn off your sound, tho)