Our new motto for 2014 will be “Viva Chippewa!”
Our last vivid memories? Circa 1999, the “Sabres No Goal” Stanley Cup week, hanging with ESPN’s Steve Levy and Darren Pang at the Crocodile Bar.
The “Dile” is no more, Levy has silver temples, and our urge to party on Chippewa has faded.
In its place (and quite a bit earlier in the evening), we ventured out for a sophisticated night at Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant.
Ironically, others have come and gone (as of this minute, Indulge and 4 Play sit across the street), but Bacchus has remained steadfast for 10 years.
Sig Other and I happily found parking in the nearby ramp. Bacchus has valet, too.
Chic and stylish, Bacchus has clean lines, warm colors and perfect lighting. The bar is separated from the dining area by a low wall. Candles flicker everywhere, and for the holidays, the understated décor – tasteful ornaments and poinsettias – is perfect.
Bacchus has a nice hum. Settling into comfortable bar stools, we were happy to see the now-famous Alabama-Auburn game on the sole TV. The music reminded us of warmer days by the pool at the Wynn in Vegas.
Bacchus is known for its wines, which are selected for taste, quality and affordability regardless of label. We noted glass selections ($7 to $9) from Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and even the Finger Lakes.
We were looking for something a little stiffer to start. Voilà, a seasonal drink menu from our fantastic bartender.
For Sig O, “Apples & Bourbon” ($8), a concoction of Steampunk Cider and Makers Mark. For me, a warming “Cinnamon Toast” ($10), with Captain Morgan rum and hot cider in a cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glass. Perfect!
Bacchus bartenders pamper patrons. Not sure about wine? They made suggestions and offered tastes. They chatted with customers and joined in the jubilation when the “Roll Tiders” went down in flames. Ever mindful, they turned on the Sabres-Devils game, too. (We could get used to this kind of swanky sports-watching!)
“Leftovered-out,” we ate at the bar. We thought about starting with specialty cheeses ($4 each) but couldn’t resist the night’s specials from one of Buffalo’s well-known chefs, Brian Mietus, who also is a managing partner.
So, it was Colorado Pork Chili and Curried Butternut Soup with Shrimp Dumpling (each $8) and small plates of Short Rib with Polenta ($15) and Lamb Bolognese with Ravioli ($12).
Our efficient bartender set us up with placemats, linen napkins, silverware, ice water and a delightful basket of bread with herbed olive oil dipping sauce.
A waiter delivered the chili and a pitcher of soup, which he poured steaming hot over my dumpling. One mouthful had us groaning in delight, and even more so when the rest arrived.
Did I need a glass of wine with my rich, velvety lamb bolognese? Why, yes! I wanted red, but alas, the headache. The bartender quickly offered a light Greek red with low tannins.
Sig Other switched to vodka tonic. Sky? Gray Goose? Absolut? We noted Bacchus only deals off the top shelf. Happily, when the bill came, the vodka tonic was only $5.
It was well into the third period when the lights flickered on at Indulge. Our cue to head home.
Did we miss our wilder nights? Nah. We’ll leave those to the youngsters and keep Bacchus for ourselves. At least until the Sabres are back in Cup contention.
Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
Where: 56 W. Chippewa (854-9463, www.bacchusbuffalo.com)
The Scene: Former Chippewa partiers with mortgages and kids. Relaxed, comfortable, with a side of pampering.
Hours: Open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; closes at 11 p.m. weekdays, midnight Friday and Saturday.
Drinks: Extensive wines by the glass and bottle. Wines change frequently. Bottled beer, $3.50-$10; mixed drinks and specialty cocktails, $5-$10.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Extras: Valet and Augspurger parking ramp on Pearl Street.
Events: Tenth anniversary celebration Feb. 1. Wine School Wednesdays (three wines, two small plates, $40) start in January. Live music first Friday of the month. Look for special events in the new side room and summer movies in the redone courtyard.