On Friday, Steve and I celebrated seven years together. It was his idea to head to our former stomping grounds in downtown Buffalo for a little staycation getaway.
We moved to Buffalo in early 2012, not long before the Hotel Lafayette reopened after many years of dilapidation and, ultimately, renovation. We’ve read about it, seen lots of pictures, and heard about a gazillion weddings hosted there, but neither of us had ever been overnight guests. So, we decided to change that.
After arriving downtown, we parked in the Adam Ramp parking garage, a few blocks south of the hotel. Parking in the ramp costs $2 for the evening (after 5pm), or $7 overnight. From there, the walk to the hotel was short, just a minute or two. Alternatively, can also pay the hotel an additional $20 per night for unlimited valet parking, or, if you’re lucky enough to find a spot, parking on the street is free during evening and weekend hours.
The kind woman at the front desk assumed we were there for an event. It seemed to surprise her a little that we only had a room reservation without being tied to something happening at the hotel. She moved on quickly and got us checked right in without any problems. She pointed us to the elevators, one of my favorite details in the lobby, and let us know to take them to the second floor.
After walking down a long, dimly-lit, and somewhat creepy hallway, our gorgeous junior suite had my mind racing with ideas for our house. According to an article by DesignNY Magazine, the furniture in the guest rooms is even locally made. There was a seating area to the left, a double-sided fireplace in the middle of the room, and bedroom/bathroom to the right. One downside to the room was that our ground-level windows faced a little courtyard. The courtyard itself wasn’t the problem. It was actually very picturesque with its string lights and cafe tables, but we weren’t allowed to use it. That spot was for private parties only, and there were loud partygoers out there later that night.
After checking into our room and settling in, we ventured out to Tempo, where we had a 7:30 dinner reservation. I made the reservation only a few days before without any trouble securing the time that we wanted. Despite passing by the restaurant a million times when we lived downtown, we’d never been to Tempo, but heard fantastic things. I always related it to the Bills; I remember reading that they brought Mario Williams there when they were trying to sign him, so I thought, that must mean it’s good, right?! Seemingly so, since the Bills ended up signing Williams shortly after to one of the most profitable defensive contracts ever at the time. In the end, that deal didn’t pan out as well for the Bills as they’d hoped, but it sure did pan out for us. Without that, Tempo may not have been ingrained in my mind or on my to-do list. Man, was it fantastic! I think Hutch’s is still my favorite of the fine dining restaurants I’ve visited in Buffalo, which is admittedly few, but Tempo is now up there at the top.
When we arrived, the hostess let me know that she called earlier to remind me about our reservation, but didn’t hear back. I got her message and had, in fact, called back and talked to a male worker, who said I was all set for my reservation. I let her know that, but internally panicking a little, thinking we may have lost our table. Thankfully, it didn’t end up being an issue. She took our coats and led us right to our candlelit table.
I opened up the gigantic wine menu first, which took awhile to peruse. Ultimately, we ordered a delicious, although overpriced, Toscana IGT dry red blend. Shortly after the wine arrived, our waiter brought bread, oil, and a plate of olives and cheese. I’m a huge fan of olives. And cheese. So, I loved every bite of those, especially paired with the oil as a topping on the bread.
The waiter was there when we needed him and answered our questions. He snuck right in to refill my wine glass every time it was low, but didn’t try to make extra conversation, unwanted recommendations, or nag. Perfect.
Next up, we ordered a dozen oysters, one of the primary reasons we chose Tempo. We’d been craving oysters for months since we last made them at home, a huge pain when you don’t have the right tools! Tempo’s oysters completely satisfied our craving. The mignonette that came with them was absolutely delicious.
For dinner, Steve chose the Pasta Bolognese, and I picked the Gulf Shrimp Risotto. We both loved our meals, though Steve’s was so scalding that he couldn’t eat it for quite a while. I was mostly done with mine by the time his finally cooled down. And truthfully, I’m a huge fan of pasta bolognese, but I’ve had better. The Gulf Shrimp Risotto, on the other hand, was phenomenal. Between the basil, tomatoes, and parmesan, the flavors were rich and perfectly balanced.
I think Steve’s favorite part of dinner transpired as we were leaving the restaurant. While we were getting our coats from the hostess, sitting at the table in front of the hostess stand were a couple of famous faces—Jack Eichel and Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres players. It’s possible there was one more Sabre sitting there too, but we didn’t want to stare too much. Steve went into total fanboy mode; I enjoyed every second of that.
Instead of heading to a bar or another downtown spot, we chose to head back to the Hotel Lafayette to explore the hotel and enjoy the space. Plus, we had that fireplace to look forward to on one of our first chilly October nights. When we got back, we were able to find a close parking spot on the street, score! We hoped that Public Espresso + Coffee, located in the lobby, would still be open, but it had closed up for the night.
Soon after we got back to our room, we were sitting on the couch and tried to turn on the fireplace. Pure disappointment. It worked just fine, but, IT WASN’T REAL! Instead of fire, a little fake projected light that kind of resembled a fire appeared. And it didn’t actually put out any heat at all. Womp womp. I don’t know why I assumed it would be real; maybe that was an oversight on my part. But, the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and there were two TVs. We don’t even have two TVs (or cable) in our house, so we enjoyed watching some Food Network as we fell asleep that night.
As I laid in bed the next morning, I couldn’t help but wonder what had taken place over the years of the hotel’s existence in the exact spot where I slept. What had those walls heard? Who had they seen? I love that about historic places – imagining what has occurred right where you are standing—or laying in my case. I started to research the history of the Hotel Lafayette and was fascinated by its background. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel was intended to be built for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, but construction didn’t begin until the year after. The hotel opened in 1904 as a premiere boutique hotel, one of the top in the U.S. at the time. Since then, it’s certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs. If you’re interested in learning more, Buffalo Rising wrote a feature about the building’s history when the renovation project was underway. And here’s part two. I’d also love to do one of these tours sometime.
The next morning, we woke up and walked over to grab a cup of coffee and some beans from Buffalo Coffee Roastery, just a short walk from the Hotel Lafayette, on Main Street. We’ve been buying coffee beans there for a few years, ever since Steve learned that they supplied the beans to his favorite coffee shop in town, Cafe Taza, and one of our favorite breakfast spots, Betty’s. The best cups of coffee come from Buffalo Coffee Roastery beans. The unassuming shop is low key on the weekends; there were only a few other people there, seated at one of the few small tables.
The staff working on Saturday morning was friendly and helpful. Our order included a couple pounds of the Cinnamon Hazelnut flavored coffee, and at first, they said they were out. As we were trying to decide which flavors to get instead, they started to mix up the Cinnamon Hazelnut for us right there. We left a few minutes later with our bags of beans in hand.
We had extended breakfast plans following our stop at Buffalo Coffee Roastery, but some car trouble took us back home instead. As we pulled onto our street, we agreed that, although we miss the excitement of living downtown, home is our favorite place to be. The opportunity to find something new and explore our city is only a 30-minute drive away. I can’t wait for our next staycation!