The Anchor Bar
 Buffalo, New York         Date of Visit  08/14/11   

This marks the first time in 182 restaurants I have entered alone. Sure, there is a little of that “I’m a lonely loser” feeling when the big guy at the hostess station says “How many?” and your answer is I couldn’t find anyone to eat with me. But hey I’m in a city close to a culinary landmark and I am already sort of a loser so who cares what people at the restaurant think. Plus, as the name suggests, there is a large bar and they will feed you there. Deal.



Crazy But Delish Chicken Wing Soup

The story of the Anchor Bar is why hot wings are called Buffalo wings. If the legend is to be believed the son of the owner was tending bar late one night when a pile of his drunken friends found themselves feeling peckish. To satiate the hungry throng his mom took some chicken wings which were destined for the stock pot or trash heap and fried them and coated them with a secret sauce. Viola, Buffalo wings, apparently originating in Buffalo. The very Italian (he seems much more stereotypically Russian than Italian with the strong accent and austere stare) manager I had seen interviewed on some different programs was hanging out at the end of the bar watching the days service get rolling. I’ll bet there aren’t a lot of bar fights here, the guy looks like he might have run a gulag at some point in his career.

The anchor bar is a destination restaurant. This was confirmed by the pack of folks (local and otherwise) waiting for the doors to open on a Sunday. The number of foreign languages being spoken within the pack suggested the four hours it took me to reach Buffalo was a pittance by comparison.

St. Teresa...Patron Saint of Spicy Chicken Appendages

Good Except for the Rings

Like the others however, I was in Buffalo, and how do you not try the place out? The interior has a very barsy feel to it, dark, loads of vintage motorcycles, license plates, law enforcement patches, and so on. The two bartenders were a little frenzied but both were pros, taking care of the half dozen lone diners on the stools and providing pain-go-bye-bye-juice for the rest of the restaurant.

The place was instantly busy as soon as the doors opened but everyone seemed to get served with minimal fuss or wait. The menu has likely not undergone much alteration for decades. There are hot and cold sandwiches, soups, Italian entrees, and lots of fried options. Being alone there was really only one way to go so I opted for the intriguing chicken wing soup, a single of wings (hot), and some fried veggies.

The soup was not at all what I expected. I thought it might be some sort of spicy chicken noodle concoction but it is a cream based soup. Sludgy thick and full of chicken and celery it had a seriously nice kick which worked well against the creamy base. The bartender mentioned that it has a different heat level everyday as there is an older woman in the kitchen who whoops it up from scratch everyday and measures everything by eye. I would definitely order it again. The veggies were a nice assortment including cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion rings with a cup of ranch dressing. Everything was done well except for the onion rings. Where the other veggies had a nice breading and were piping hot the rings were mealy and mushy. Really the only serious disappointment of the day.

A Single of the Hot...

Familiar with Some Unique Notes.

While most wing joints have expanded their sauce options to a nearly preposterous conglomeration of choices, the Anchor Bar has refused to stray from the early recipes of Teresa. There are no smoked peppercorn parmesan and gummybear wings. You can do Mild, Medium, Hot, Spicy Bar-B-Que or Suicidal, I went with the hot. All wings arrive with celery and a cup of bleu cheese dressing which is apparently how the first platter was served. The wings are large and well done. Nothing ruins a wing outing faster than one super sized wing that doesn’t appear to be done all the way through. Thankfully I didn’t have to spend two days praying to the gods of salmonella, as that was not a worry here.

I wouldn’t say they are the best wings I have ever eaten. I also wouldn’t say that I have had them before. The cup of dressing alongside had big chunks of cheese and a unique sweetness that I did not expect. Interesting, kept me going back with the celery and the chicken to decide if I liked it. I kinda did. The sauce while familiar with peppery spice and fatty butteryness also had a significant vinegary punch that made the wings from the Anchor Bar stand out from others I have tried. Tried and true. They know wings. Good and efficient service, interesting place with loads of nostalgia, and chicken limbs as they were meant to be. If I find reason to be in Buffalo again I will certainly return. Hopefully, I will have some friends with which to share. Not that I didn’t enjoy sitting with Ivano at the bar. Please don’t hurt me Ivano. Seriously.




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