I’ve been to a lot of Sabres games since the lockout ended and we’ve actually covered the arena’s changes to the 100 level dining and were even invited to a press event to see what First Niagara Center was going to offer for this year. Unfortunately, though, there aren’t many foods in the arena that I look forward to eating. Whether it’s the expensive price or the sub par quality the food, it’s just not a great place to eat. After the press event last September, I found out that certain sections of the arena seem to have a far better selection of food then others. So when Alli’s parents took us to the Harbour Club (in the 100 level) before a game a couple weeks ago, I was hopeful that some of the food would be better than what I usually am exposed too.
The Harbour Club isn’t for everyone, you need to have a 200 level or suite ticket to even gain entry during a game or between intermissions. Not sure how exactly it happened, but my father-in-law got us into the dining room an hour before the game started.
- Restaurant Type: Semi Fine Dining, Buffet
- Location: Downtown
- Cuisine: Steakhouse, American
- Price: Entrees >$25, Buffet ~$30, Appetizers >$10
You have a couple dining options at the Harbour Club; you can either order their pregame buffet or you can order fresh made to cook items off their menu. Aside from an order of Buffalo Chicken Rangoon’s ($10, pictured in gallery) off the appetizer menu, our entire dinner party decided to try the pre-game buffet ($32 for adults, $16 for children 10 and under). I’ve never been a big fan of buffets, even at casino’s and Chinese restaurants I always leave disappointed and somehow still hungry.
I have to give the Harbour Club staff credit, they seem to really try to offer good food, but unfortunately fall short. A combination of soggy foods, bland flavors and poorly timed trips to the stations of food left me unsatisfied. The chicken and waffles (pictured above) was a hit and miss, the chicken had a nice crispy skin and was actually decently seasoned, but the waffle pieces were either burnt to a crisp or completely soggy and soft. The pork trio of pork loin, sausage and pulled pork was another option that had both highs and lows. The sausages had a great pop when you bit into the casing and were very juicy inside but the pulled pork was really dry and the pork loin was a little fatty around the edges. What made me get back in line was the shrimp and grits, which was made up of fairly small shrimp but covered in delicious buttery smooth grits. It didn’t compare to what Shango offers for their brunch specials, but it was a much better option then anything I’ve eaten in that arena before.
A perk of dining in the Harbour Club is the ability to save your table throughout the game and return during intermissions. We decided to order some dessert after we finished our dinner. But since we were too full to eat any more at the moment, we asked for the dessert to be ready for the first intermission. When we got back to our table after the first period we found our desserts waiting for us (along with our drink orders). Alli’s ice cream sundae was pretty large and still solid/fresh when we got to our seat and my Irish cheesecake had an awesome minty chocolate coating.
For those who are worried about not having enough time to make it back to their seats before the game starts, don’t worry, there is a gigantic projection screen above the bar (pictured above) that is playing the game so you won’t miss any of the action.
While some of the food we ate at the Harbour Club (shrimp and grits, desserts) was better than what you can get in the concourse, the rest of the food was still sub-par and disappointing. Sure the service and convenience is nice but is it worth the price? Not in my opinion. So next season before you head to a game I would instead suggest grabbing something from nearby Swannie House or Lagerhaus 95 instead of wasting your time or money at the Harbour Club.