Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

At First Niagara Center… It’s All About The Food


Long, long gone are the days of the Aud concessions… boiled hot dogs, cardboard pizza, popcorn, soda and beer headlining the ballpark dreck.

Today at First Niagara Center, the Buffalo Sabres, along with their culinary partners Delaware North, unveiled an entire array of new food and concession items which hungry fans will have to choose from when they come to Sabres hockey games starting with the season opener this Thursday.

There will be new unique food items in the suites, in the Lexus Club on the 100 level, the Harbour Club 200, as well as offerings available at concession stands in the rest of the seating areas. And the Sabres couldn’t wait to show off their new treats to the media at a special unveiling in the Lexus Club.

On the general concession menu? The Sabres front office has been talking up the pizza logs, served with marianara sauce, or enjoy them Buffalo style, brushed with hot sauce and served with a side of bleu cheese.

Up in the suites, patrons will have access to a special Poutine Potato bar, roasted potatoes topped with beef gravy and cheese curds, and also can be topped with either bacon, cheddar, or Montreal style brisket. Other new items include a tomato mozzarella pizza dip served with cheese sticks, beef tenderloin served on a brioche roll with caramelized onion, roasted red pepper and sriracha aioli, and for dessert, a root beer float prepared with Perry’s vanilla ice cream and Saranac root beer.

But the biggest hit today? One of the simplest of items: maple bacon on a stick. Imagine a thick slab of bacon, grilled and marbled with maple and served on a skewer. This tasty treat will be available in the Harbour Club 200, and judging by today’s comments from those in attendance, the lines should be long.

Scott Green is the Executive Chef at First Niagara Center, and led the team responsible for many of the new food offerings in the building. “Certainly we are driven by what fans demand and ask for, and we are also influenced by what works in other similar venues. We wanted to create a menu that emphasizes Buffalo and uses local ingredients and producers. Look at our menu and the words ‘Costanzo’s, Perry’s, Sahlen’s’ will jump right out at you.”

Green’s challenge was to develop food items which can be efficiently mass prepared and served with the emphasis on freshness and warmth. “We certainly don’t want to keep items under a heat lamp, so we experiment in the kitchen and find what works and what fans will enjoy. We think we have a good line up.”

As for my challenge? Trying to shed a few pounds and comfortably get back into my fall apparel, I hunkered down about a week and a half ago and started the low carbohydrate and cut the sugars diet routine, have been sticking to the program and it’s already yielding results. So how to attend a tasting event, dive into all the arena culinary delights, and not blow up on carbs and refined sugars?

The answer was simple… invite Artvoice Managing Editor Buck Quigley to come along, Buck having absolutely no battle with the bulge.

So we went in different directions, me opting for the maple bacon on a stick, the apple bacon salad served with walnuts, feta and concord vinaigrette, while Buck went for the poutine bar with the Montreal beef brisket, the premium shellfish platter, concentrating on the oysters on a half shell, and ending up with a root beer float.

Judging from the samplings at a HarborCenter event a few months back, look for the concession fare at their facility to be something special as well. On top of all that, the new 716 Food and Sport bistro will be rolling out their entire menu sometime mid month. They’ve been tweeting some sneak previews of their restaurant fare.
Bottom line? If you’re planning a visit to an event at First Niagara Center or HarborCenter, go hungry. You won’t be disappointed.

BUCK’s TOP PICK: Premium shellfish platter, with crab legs, shrimp and oysters on the half shell
BUCK’s SECOND PICK: Poutine potato bar topped with Montreal style brisket
NEEDS WORK: Pistachio crusted salmon, with roasted garlic mashed potato, fennel, arugula; olives, peppers and tomato butter

ANDREW’s TOP PICK: Shrimp and crab lobster rolls, wrapped with mayo, celery and lemon
ANDREW’s SECOND PICK: Reuben burger, swiss, pastrami, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing
NEEDS WORK: Chicken Gyro, with feta, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, kalamatas and tzatziki sauce

OVERALL TOP PICK: Maple bacon on a stick!

Here is a list of all the new items that will be available in the non-premium areas of First Niagara Center:

· Italian sausage flat bread
Artichoke hearts, caramelized onion and crisp flatbread
· Buffalo chicken flat bread
House made hot bleu sauce, tossed chicken tenders tossed, six Italian cheeses and crumbled bleu cheese
· Original pizza logs
1. Traditional, served with marinara sauce
2. Buffalo style, brushed with spicy hot sauce, served with a side of bleu cheese hot sauce for dipping
· Fried banana pepper rings
Southwestern ranch dipping sauce
· Cuban melt panini sandwich
Pulled pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese and dill pickle chips
· Pastrami and swiss panini sandwich
Lean shaved pastrami and melted swiss cheese
· Loaded potato chips
· Loaded baked potato
Cheddar cheese sauce, bacon bits, sour cream and scallions
· Dessert chips
Hot fudge, salted caramel, whipped cream and chopped maraschino cherries
· Hot ice cream sandwich
Sweet bread filled with ice cream, hot sealed, and served with strawberry or chocolate sauce for dipping