Q: We often go downtown to Shea's or Irish Classical Theater and would like an idea for somewhere to eat where we can get served in a timely way yet has interesting and delicious food. Sometimes we like "bar food," but often we want something a little more formal, and a good wine list helps.
-- Sue from Kenmore
A: There are plenty of places to eat downtown, Sue -- some of Western New York's best restaurants are there -- so I can't list them all. Instead, let's look at three upscale places with good wine lists that are sited within easy walking distance of these two theaters. You'll have to park the car only once.
(Yes, yes -- I know this sounds utterly ruthless. It's hard to leave restaurants out, even for space reasons.)
I must mention Rue Franklin, 341 Franklin St. It is one of the city's finest, serving food with a strong French accent in beautiful surroundings. (Try to get seated in the garden, if you can.)
The menu changes seasonally, but the best deal here is the prix fixe dinner served Tuesday through Thursday nights, which gives you an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, from $29 to $34.
The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m., so you can get there early enough have time to enjoy the meal. Reservations are a good idea; if you are lucky, you can get a (free) parking space in the small lot next door.
Let us not forget Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant, 56 W. Chippewa. The prize-winning fare is prepared under the direction of Chef Brian Mietus with a selection of small plates (like grilled fig and Stilton salad, carpaccio steak and eggs) and large plates (roasted halibut with polenta). There is valet parking if you want it; the restaurant also opens at 5:30.
On the other side of Main Street, you'll find Sea Bar at 475 Ellicott St. -- to get to the theaters, just walk through the Market Arcade. Obviously, the menu centers around the water, but Chef Mike Andrzejewski always puts some meat and vegetarian dishes on his menu.
Eat at the sushi bar or at tables in the dining room next door. The ambience is cool; the crowd is young and with it. Try the grilled octopus; try the beef on weck rolls; try the cucumber salad; try the 40-hour beef short ribs. These are a few of my favorites.
And oh yes -- enjoy the show!
Next Week: More theater eating, but this time we'll be at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Readers are wondering about the new food trucks and mobile food stands out there. Have you tried them? I'd like your feedback for vendors on wheels who offer more than hot dogs, sausage and chips. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.