|Picture from Lakewood's Patch.com|
I have had a tendency in this blog to avoid bars that are having their busy nights. I have only been to one Taco Tuesday. When the bars are having their big league nights with darts, trivia, bowling etc. I end up going to the half empty dive bar eating a processed meat treat that comes in an old pretzel container. This week I made an exception, mostly by mistake. I went to a sports bar on the night OSU played Arizona to get beyond the Sweet Sixteen. The odds are against Harry Buffalo as bar #31.
Harry Buffalo is the third chain bar that I have officially visited. The previous two are the only bars to have failing reviews, both because they were unable to give me service in an adequate amount of time. They also gave the feeling that the chain bars' staff and management don't have a personal connection with their job. Lakewood's Harry Buffalo has from the start given a very different vibe. I was invited to the Harry Buffalo by the general manager Mike Potraffke. He was personable, a fan of the blog and a proud Lakewood native.
When I finally announced Harry Buffalo as my next bar he immediately contacted me again and made plans to make sure my friends and I would be able to sit down. Upon our arrival I was greeted by Mike and a small Reserved for Every Bar in Lakewood sign at an empty booth. We chatted about how OSU in the tournament keeps his bar packed. Also, the one of the coaches from Butler was a native from Rocky River and brought in its own big crowd while they were still relevant. Our first round was comped as well. *Note free stuff does make me give a bar a better review but they usually come from the better run bars.
Our waitress was helpful, friendly and knowledgable. We also never waited longer than we wanted for service. Mike took a hands on a approach to running the bar, helping customers and not simply acting as an autonomous king on a thrown. I never throughout the busy night saw any customers giving the tell tale sign of waiting too long by half standing up from their seats, rapidly looking around the room and then burning a hole in the back of their server's head.
I got my first Leinenkugel Summer Shandy of the season, if for no other reason but to spite our cold spring. I followed it up with a Stone Arrogant Bastard. It had a wonderfully complex taste that was amazingly easy to drink, where others could taste funky by the end.
We ordered the cheesy garlic bread first, which with its dipping sauce caused us to converge and devour it like locusts. Of course if any cheesy garlic bread with dipping sauce doesn't create this effect than someone isn't doing their job. Warning, it's also very filling.
Harry Buffalo is heavily wooden, with it covering most of their walls, booths, some ceilings and of course the bar. There were flat screen TVs around the three rooms of Harry Buffalo, so that just about everyone can see the game. The bar itself is three sided and makes its way around the whole room. There is a second bar in the basement as well. The two giant front windows open up during the warm season. Standing and roaming space is at a minimum. Harry Buffalo has more of a restaurant/sports bar setup.
I ordered the wings and wings for my entree. I got the Hot Pepper Buffalo wings with the bone in and the Thai Chili for the boneless. I liked both but I liked the extra little kick of the buffalo more. It also came with a side. I went with the macaroni and cheese, which was good. I also tried the Cajun Ranch and it was real good as well. It is one of Johnny's favorite wings now. 've had their buffalo meat burger before and I like it. It may be slightly gamey for some tastes and slightly awesome for others.
I now looked at my phone and realized I had two text messages one telling me that three more people that I didn't think were coming now were and a second saying they're on their way. Our booth would not fit more than 4 (we already had three.) So we called on our waitress and asked about fitting another three. Her and Mike quickly went into action asking people at another table to move to ours so that we could fit that table and another together. It is possible that Harry Buffalo's staff is simply that awesome but I prefer to go with that it was the amazing power of my new LkwdVIP status. They carried our food over and moved that tables around to suit us.
All the food our new wave of friends got looked good and brought no complaints.
I made my way around the bar to get some pictures as the game was coming to its very close end. Arizona had held a lead in the beginning of the game but OSU took control till the final minutes. Arizona then made a push tying the game with only a hand full of seconds left. As you probably know in the last two seconds Ohio scored a three pointer to bring the bar into a fevered celebration. Soon followed everyone in the bar going into a rendition of the song, not called, Hey Snoopy. One of my favorite things about being a Clevelander is seeing people experience that song in Ohio for the first time. Since, only Ohioans do the O-H-I-O, visitors always first freeze then their head starts swinging around wildly like a rabbit that knows the owls coming but can't figure out from where, basically looking frightened and confused. This is usually followed in the next minute or two by them finding out the song's name is not Hey Snoopy but Hang on Sloopy.
Harry Buffalo was a win for the evening. The service was phenomenal and the staff seemed to care about making it a good experience. The food was good and not badly priced with a lot of different options. They had enough beer on tap giving everyone an option of something they will really like. If you want good service, beer, food and TV viewing ability goto Lakewood's Harry Buffalo, bar #31.
Note: I used a picture taking method on my camera that works real well when things aren't moving and worked otherwise tonight. Guess I'll just have to go back for more pictures at some point.
18605 Detroit Ave