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Great Dates / The way to my heart

At least it was a good meal

Enjoy sustaining ramen at Sato Brewpub before an energetic evening at Ironworks or Town Ballroom.

Photo by kc kratt


Best for: First dates with potential, foodies


Where: Downtown dining plus a concert, a show, or a gallery walk


Sato Brew Pub

For Buffalonians in their mid-thirties through forties or so, even Sato Brewpub’s Pearl Street location is a conversation starter. “Were you ever here when it was Soundlab?”


“Oh, my gosh! That was the main entrance over there, wasn’t it?”


“Remember that ‘band’ that was just a slide projector show and a keyboard?”


“Remember that other place that was down a dark alley off Niagara Street somewhere, where the shows that were too avant garde for Soundlab were held?”


“Ah, now I do! That place is probably a brewery now, too!”


In the Buffalo of our youth, a not-for-profit art/music space like Soundlab could afford rent in almost any neighborhood in town. In the Buffalo of our middle-age, we’re looking at a nearly unrecognizable brightened and revamped space. There are microbrews, artisan cocktails, izakaya-style bar snacks, and really good vegan ramen available in the middle of a downtown office district that no longer rolls up the sidewalks at 5 p.m.


Sato boasts a comfortable bar that, while casual, is suitable for dressed-up attire, and there always seems to be a booth open, if that’s more your speed.


The small plates and mini rice bowls are, in addition to being of consistently good quality, perfect for sampling, sharing, and prompting discussion. Depending on what type of evening you’re having—maybe keeping the night going after a Sabres game or a show at the Towne Ballroom—Sato also has a Late Night Bites menu that’s perfect for when you’re hungry at 10 p.m., but want something that isn’t greasy or heavy. I also really love the edamame dip with gyoza chips, the addictive cucumber, and the salmon poke. For the nondrinking set or those who just like to ease up a bit sometimes, Sato also advertises fresh and creative mocktails.


Sato Brewpub 110 Pearl Street, 248-1436 or satorestaurantgroup.com/sato-brewpub


Drinks and small plates at Billy Club leave plenty of time to explore Allentown’s First Fridays (Indigo Gallery shown here).


Billy Club

When it comes to locating the perfect place to get to know someone, the qualities I look for are flexibility (can you choose to stay for twenty minutes or for a multicourse meal?), interest (Weird wine list? Creative seasonal cocktails? Attractive plating? Cool art? Historic interior design?), a wide range of options (good for beer drinkers or those who like a dry martini), and, of course, that all-important yet difficult to define quality: atmosphere.


What Billy Club offers is attractive decor, windows out onto Allen Street; a space where you can either chat with the bartenders, chat with the regulars, or keep to yourselves; a short but excellent drink menu; and a changing rotation of snacks and small plates. It’s a halfway point between the Buffalo see-and-be-seen scene and total anonymity; it’s OK to wave a vague hello at an acquaintance across the bar or ignore other patrons altogether.


For a date at Billy Club (or almost any restaurant, really) it’s best to meet at the bar, have a drink there, maybe order a small plate or two, and then, if motivated to do so, ask for a table for dinner. Before or after cocktails at Billy Club, consider a stroll down to the other end of Allen Street to check out a few galleries. Pine Apple, which sells handmade crafts and gift items as well as paintings, is open until 7 p.m. on Saturdays and later during the monthly First Friday walk, when galleries up and down Allen Street stay open until 9 p.m. El Museo, Buffalo Big Print, and Indigo Art are also great choices for a pre-happy hour pop in. Regardless of agenda, Billy Club is a great staging grounds for whatever may happen next.


Billy Club 288 Allen Street, 331-3047 or Billyclubbuffalo.com


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