Restaurant Review: The Lodge by S.M. Traphagen

Today’s guest post is written by blogger S.M. Traphagen from Digestion Suggestion Food Blog. Her blog focuses on finding local restaurants that can cater to diners with digestive/food sensitivities.

In the heart of Buffalo’s entertainment district is a wholly new style of restaurant. One that is urban, upscale, with a rustic ski lodge twist. I’m all for a ski lodge atmosphere, it’s a perfect theme for Buffalo, but the retro hunting décor takes a bit of getting used to.

The Lodge, located at 79 West Chippewa Street, is a stone’s throw away from the theatre district and sports venues. It’s prime location for Buffalo’s night life and offers city professionals a unique lunching experience.

I am all for pushing culinary limits and stepping out of our “native” comfort zone, but it does feel as though The Lodge is still trying to get its bearings. Having eaten there three times, I still can’t get a fix on the menu style and what they are trying to achieve. I did try to find out a bit more about its history and if they can or are willing to cater to those with digestive sensitivities, needless to say I was left wanting. So forming my own conclusion based on ordering history and what they currently offer, it would appear they do not cater to those with digestive allergies. Most of the menu options are gamey and loaded with various cheeses (and when I say loaded I mean from the inside out- making it difficult to “take the cheese off”). To play devil’s advocate, they do offer some seafood options and vegetarian options.

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My first two experiences at The Lodge had me making a bee-line for the Campfire Grilled Salmon. It had been much talked about and I will concur; it was impeccable, fresh, and not farm raised. The glazed sauce had a tangy zip to it and the sautéed vegetables were lightly seasoned and not over cooked. All in all I was pleasantly surprised. I also attempted the stuffed Portobello sandwich that came with a ratatouille sauce and warm bun that held it all together. The key is to plate the sandwich and hence the bun at the last minute so the bread doesn’t get soggy. I can safely say it was not soggy in the least. My friend had the Croque Monsieur, a grilled cheese and ham sandwich which comes loaded with cheese. She couldn’t stop talking about it. The bread was buttered, lightly crisped and had a Gruyere cheese, or similar tasting, wrapped around the outside of this classic sandwich. At my request, cheese was left off of my dish and the wait staff and chef seemed accommodating, albeit a bit slow on the service. We were there for lunch and if you’re catering to a “business” atmosphere at lunch you have to be able to get people in and out the door in an hour. It took us almost two.

My last experience left me a bit perplexed. I had expected to order their wildly talked about soft shell Crab Po Boy and the Campfire Salmon, because I loved it so much the first time. I had looked at the menu online before going and was crest fallen to find out the menu had changed completely. The hostess apologized for the delay in uploading it to the website (a delay for which was quickly corrected, as it is now on the website) and offered the new menu choices.

While a few options from the old menu still remain; the salads, fish tacos, sliders, and the salmon sandwich, there are some new choices that leave me wondering, again, who is The Lodge? What are they trying to achieve? Choices such as Bone Marrow, wild Boar Ragout, stag on a stick and crab and salted cod croquettes had me shying away from ordering. But then I saw Seared Ahi Tuna, Salmon of the day, mussels, scallops, veggie burger and vegetarian chili and thought “ok I can do this”. I mean this is Buffalo; you can’t have a restaurant without some meat options; for which my husband is eternally grateful. We ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese- a staple from the first menu and served with orzo pasta ($25.00). It’s a hefty price tag. The mac and cheese was ok, although the orzo pasta thins it out a bit, so it’s not as hearty as one would anticipate for a mac and cheese classic. You get nice big chunks of lobster meat, roasted onion pieces (similar to small medallions), tomato and a complexity of cheeses that make for a nice compliment to the lobster.

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I ordered the fish tacos ($10.00). You get two tacos with lightly toasted soft shells. The Cajun style seasoning on the fish had a nice kick to it and the sauce had a hint of ceviche (I tasted lime and green onion).

I’m split down the middle when it comes to The Lodge’s food. The food is ok but not for its prices. The seating for dining is melded in with the bar area so a cozy or intimate dinner is out of the question. On the other hand- and there always is- if you’re there for atmosphere then this is the place. While hunting and game are not my thing; the antler chandeliers, soft blue lighting, roaring crystal stone fireplace and faux wood wall treatments are hip and eclectic. It truly transports you to another place. The fusion of urban decadence meets French lodging is seamless and tastefully done. The variety of drink options has you feeling like you’ve stepped into the Northend Bar (think Witches of East End) and conversation is always flowing.

The Lodge does push you to step outside your comfort zone and I think with a little more time and ironing out this place will start a new trend long overdue in the Buffalo area.

Lodge Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

2 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: The Lodge by S.M. Traphagen

  1. Hey S.M. Traphagen, thanks for writing a review of The Lodge for BuffaloEats.org. I’m one of the owners and I thank you for coming in and experiencing the place with us. As you pointed out in your review, our menu has recently changed as we picked up a new chef and sous chef. Our new menu still keeps a lot of the original “favorites” such as our lettuce wraps, fish tacos, and chicken & waffles sandwich, while adding some innovative new options such as our Seared Ahi Tuna with Squid Ink Miso Sauce and Walnut & Goat Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Ragout & Blueberries.

    We do mark Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Items on our menu, which is why I would consider us “friendly” to those with food sensitivities. I, for one, am a pescetarian, and our General Manager is a vegetarian, so we have built the menu trying to have something for everyone. Our new Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich is vegan (and replaced the Portobello Sandwich you refer to in your review), so are our Tofu Lettuce Wraps. Both of our soups are vegetarian (no chicken stock) as are several other options on the menu. Many items on the menu are either are gluten free or can be made gluten free (i.e. Fish Tacos can be made with corn tortillas which we carry in-house). We also carry gluten-free beer and ciders!

    I definitely take issue that, in your third paragraph, you suggest that “most of the menu options are gamey…” and close out with “to play devil’s advocate, they do offer some seafood options and vegetarian options.” Literally half of our menu is either vegetarian or seafood, as in, 50%. I’m just baffled as to how you could perceive the menu to be bursting at the seams with gamey options, when we offer three of those, while suggesting that vegetarian and seafood options are “also available” as if they are some afterthought.

    It’s also unfortunate that you don’t talk about some of the other unique aspects of our space. Dining is certainly an affair which incorporates more than just the food sitting in front of you, and The Lodge offers a diverse cocktail menu and craft beer list that rivals that of any downtown restaurant. We also feature downtown’s only game room, with Skee-ball and air hockey in addition to favorites like pool and darts. These are just two things that set an experience at The Lodge apart from other restaurants.

    Again, I’d like to thank you for patronizing The Lodge and taking the time to write a review, I just don’t want your readers to think that we’re a game-centric restaurant with no other offerings or sensitivities to allergies or dietary restrictions. We appreciate your business and look forward to having you back and having your readers experience our space for themselves.

  2. Scott Sorrentini

    I recently went to the lodge for dinner while I was hosting relatives from out of town.

    I support S.M. ‘s claim that the menu is heavy in game.

    I was left with very few alternatives to meat dishes. I am a vegetarian and I found it quite impossible to pick an entreé. In comparison to other restaurants in the buffalo area, The lodge is lacking in this area. I will not be coming back, especially not with out if town guests eager to taste the delicious cuisine that Buffalo has to offer.

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