Just two hours south of Toronto lays Buffalo, New York. If you’re like me, when you drive across the Canada-US border, Buffalo is the city you go through to get somewhere else without ever stopping to really take a look at this architecturally rich city.

For me, that idea of Buffalo changed when I dropped my sister and niece off one weekend at Buffalo airport. I decided to a stay a night and tour the city after checking in at the Embassy Suites Hotel on downtown Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue. The hotel is very comfortable and offers complimentary cocktails in the evening from 5:30pm- 7:00 pm. Nice touch. As suggested by Taryn at the hotel’s reception desk, I headed out to City Hall  for a walking tour of downtown Buffalo.

Beautiful lobby of Embassy Suites Hotel

Beautiful lobby of Embassy Suites Hotel

Up close, Buffalo’s city hall, built in 1931 by the John W. Cowper Company and designed by architects John Wade and George J. Dietel, is a stunning piece of architecture. Most people don’t know that after taking an elevator to 25th floor and stairs up to the observation desk, the building offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. It’s spectacular to see the broad landscape of the waterfront, downtown, and beyond. If you’re fan of Art Deco styling, you will love Buffalo’s city hall. As you as you walk into the lobby, you are treated to magnificent murals on the ceiling accented by intricate tile work. The elevator lobby leaves you in awe of how much work went into creating the intricate designs. I could have easily spent half of my day exploring and photographing this beautiful building.

Buffalo's city hall - magnificent Architecture

Buffalo’s city hall – magnificent Architecture

City Hall lobby ceiling intricate art deco tile work

City Hall lobby ceiling intricate art deco tile work

Gorgeous art deco surrounding the elevators.

Stunning art deco surrounding the elevators.

Heading over to the Albright-Knox Gallery, I drove through Elmwood Village, an artsy neighbourhood with restaurants, galleries, and cool shops to wander through. Starving and thinking about stopping, I persevered and headed straight to the gallery, hoping they have a decent spot for a bite to eat. I wasn’t disappointed. After picking up my ticket, I chatted with the attendant and she informed about the “Secret Sandwich,” which is not on the menu, at the Gallery café. It’s absolutely delicious – turkey with cranberry mayonnaise, thyme laced cheddar, and topped with a slice of crispy bacon done to perfection.

Albright Knox Gallery

Albright Knox Gallery

The Gallery is impressive with a huge collection of over 6500 works by contemporary artists and the Masters, like Picasso, Gaugin, and Kahlo. The current collection at the Albright-Knox Gallery features beautiful works by Anselm Kiefer and is titled Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape (closing October 5, 2014) “…explores the interplay of history, identity, and landscape…”

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Another notable exhibition at the gallery is A Study In Action/Reaction, presented by the 2014 AK Teens Future Curators, and is on view until June 8, 2014. The exhibit features artwork by local high school students. Wow! I was in awe of these budding artists.  There were  exhibits by contemporary artists including some  intriguing  but (almost) creepy sculptures  worth seeing.

Exhibits by

Exhibits by Teen Artists

Eating Gourmet Italian at Tempo Restaurant

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Most people don’t equate Buffalo with Gourmet Chef inspired meals, but that’s a fallacy considering the delicious meal I had at one of the city’s top restaurants. Tempo is located in an old converted Tuscan-style house built in 1878. The restaurant features a lovely bar to sip a drink while you wait for your table.
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Arriving on a Saturday night, the restaurant is packed. My server escorts me to my table and I can’t help but notice I’m the only one in the place dining alone. Tempo is filled with couples, families, and friends all dining at one of their favourite restaurants. My server tells me that they have quite a few regulars and a few out-of-town diners.

That, in my opinion, is a good sign. Perusing the wine list, I’m impressed by the selection; it has one of the largest collections of Italian wines I’ve seen. I settle for a nice Chianti to accompany my meal, which starts with an antipasti plate of charcuterie with feta, olives and meats that are cured in-house. The accompanying breads are baked in-house. I’m also served a small tasting plate of fried polenta topped with whipped light goat cheese and a tomato salsa. My taste buds love the marriage of flavours.

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For my main dish, I ordered the Chicken Cutlet Alla Milanese Parmesan and the Basil Breaded Chicken Breast paired with an Arugula, Sweet Onion, and Tomato Salad. It’s a bit lighter than the pastas on the menu, plus its accompanied by an arugula salad.

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My heart’s desire was to have the house-made Gnocchi Pomodoro entrée as I eyed another diner consuming it, but sensibility prevailed. The portions are massive and I’m quite surprised at how much diners can tuck into. The restaurant and food are lovely and the service has been tops. Considering how much this restaurant stretches your pocketbook, I’m surprised to see how many people are at the bar waiting for tables.

24 hours is just enough to whet your appetite to see more. I did manage to tour the Martin House Complex before heading back to Toronto — Read the Martin House story and see more photos on Flickr.