Buffalo: Brunch, Botanical Gardens, Backcountry
On a day trip to Buffalo, NY I visited my all-time favorite restaurant: Amy’s Place. Established in 1981 the eatery is a Lebanese and American restaurant located in the University Heights neighborhood. It serves meat-lovers as well as vegetarians and vegans. No two plates, cups, or bowls match. Local artists have their crafts hanging for purchase. I first started going here in my teens when coworkers invited me to a birthday party. I was impressed by the atmosphere and vegetarian options. On the first couple of visits there was this whimsical pink art installation coming from the ceiling. I then realized it was insulation.
If you are hangry, hungover or hankering, Amy’s Place is the restaurant for you. I always leave with a food baby and leftovers. I don’t want the experience to end. I started researching TSA rules on food travel as my meal ended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served any time of the day.
Some of my favorites include:
- Veggie Wet Shoes – Curly Q fries smothered with spicy lentils, grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes, cheddar, with a side of sour cream
- Maza Dish -Try a little of everything! Hummus, eggplant dip, tzatziki & tabulee with lots of warm pita for dipping.
- Lentil-Berry Sandwich -What they’re famous for! A combination of our special recipe lentils & wheat berries, with lettuce, tomatoes, provolone, hot sauce & house dressing, rolled in flatbread.
- Barb Special – Deep-fried eggplant patties, tomatoes, French fries & garlic spread, rolled in a pita. French fries in a wrap?! YES!
- Cait’s Plate – Spicy grilled lentils, onions & mushrooms, on grilled flatbread, topped with steamed spinach & house dressing.
Here’s what I ordered this time:
After brunch we drove to the Buffalo Botanical Gardens, which hosts twelve connecting houses and a variety of outdoor gardens. The indoor houses always feel embracive on a cool Buffalo day – which is most of the time. The gardens relocate you to far away – cozy – lands. The Palm Dome, reaching 67 feet tall, is full of impressive specimen plants including tropical fruit trees. The Aquatic Garden is tranquil with a family of koi swimming underneath the walkway. The water source is the adjacent Asian Rainforest house whose redesigned waterfall is surrounded by bamboo and bonsai. The Cacti and Succulent house will make you watch your step as some of the barrel cacti are on the edge of the path, ready to greet you with a hug. The collection offers plants from American deserts as well as a unique assortment from South Africa, which I carefully studied as I will be visiting there in 10 days! My favorite was the oddly shaped baseball plant Euphorbia obesa.
In the Ivy, Carnivorous Plant and Medicinal house there is an enclosed structure which is home to Venus fly traps, sundews, butterworts, and pitcher plants. The Western New York Carnivorous Plant Club (which I cofounded) helped the gardens get their collection underway many years ago. Artist Ryan McGhee helped first set up the exhibit, which has happily evolved over the years.
On the other half of the gardens include tropical plants, a Panama cloudforest and Florida Everglades. The gardens are self-guided, but there are also free audio tours available. The Botanical Gardens is a national historic site, education center and a great place to relax, practice your photography skills and learn.
After the Botanical Gardens we drove a short distance to Tifft Nature Preserve a 264-acre nature refuge dedicated to conservation and environmental education. Eco-sculptures called bat clouds hang on one of the first paths and are the work of my alma mater: University at Buffalo. The pods provide a home for the bats, educate the public and draw attention to an illness that is destroying the bat population. Down the trail I was startled by a groundhog as I was bird watching. I propped up my camera near the den and continued the trail for about five minutes. This is the trimmed version of what my camera caught:
Visitor Highlights of Tifft Nature Preserve include:
- Five miles of nature trails
- Three boardwalks with viewing blinds
- Trails open year around during daylight hours
- Guided walks— Thursdays 10 am– 12 pm; $2.00 donation.
- Official “Important Bird Area” offers outstanding bird watching
- Fishing at Lake Kirsty
- Snowshoe rental
- Discovery Kit Rentals
- Cross-country skiing permitted
- Opportunities to observe local wildlife in natural habitats
When visiting Buffalo, make sure you visit these three great destinations!