As I cross close-to-deserted Main Street on a chilly Monday night at 11 o'clock, I keep my eye on the circular decal imprinted with the word Blu on the door of my destination. The windows and glass door are dark and I fear that it might have closed early on such a dead night.
However, when I pull on the door to the bar, it gives and welcomes me into a warm, dark room filled with blue light.
There are only a few people at the tiny bar on the left wall, but the bartender is friendly and greets us; I cheerily ask if she doesn't mind being there, even if she's not making any money.
I can understand her attitude, though; the small bar is definitely inviting and soothing.
The d?(c)cor in Blu is, of course, all in shades of blue with some black. The walls are blue, with egg-shaped lamps above the bar casting relaxing blue or green light on the bar patrons. Blue lights hang above small black tables with cushy black chairs along the wall facing the bar. In the corner by the window, a comfortable couch and chair reside.
My friend attempts to order a rum and coke and the bartender smiles patiently and explains to my blushing friend that Blu, which opened last Thanksgiving, is a sake bar. They only serve drinks mixed with sake, beer and wine. According to one of the owners of Blu, Jay Lee, it is the only sake bar in Buffalo.
I grab a menu from the top of the bar and begin perusing it, and I am surprised to find that there are at least ten cocktails in the world that I've never heard of.
They are all mixed with some sort of sake and range in price from $4 to $5. Such drinks include the Slammer (Nigori, plum wine, orange, grenadine), Rising Sun (house sake, pineapple, grenadine), and the Kyoto Cocktail (house sake, plum wine, soda water). All of which I tried, and found to be very refreshing and tasty alternatives to the same-old cocktails one finds in a regular bar. All of these drinks come in a very nice and generous daiquiri glass.
Blu also offers an assortment of sakes and shochu ranging in price from $13 to $18 in addition to Japanese, domestic, and draft beers ranging in price from $3.75 to $4 as well as martinis mixed with shochu ($6).
Plum wine ($6 per glass, $22 per bottle) and a refined list of white and red wines ($5.50-$8 per glass, $20-$50 per bottle) are also offered as well as something called "flights" which I will be sure to try next time.
Flights ($8) are two-ounce pours of several different wines all mixed together, such as "The Great White Flight" which combines Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Evolution #9, and Viognier, or the "BYOF" ($9) which you design yourself.
After perusing the menu and enjoying my few drinks, I decide to walk around and explore the bar's d?(c)cor.
On a small counter across from the bar, I find a little book of comments about the wood-framed photographs scattered throughout the bar. Next to it, I find a list of prices and an explanation of the photographs.
The photographs, taken by Rebecca Mercurio, are displayed in wood gathered from the number 23 High Street Apartment complex built in the 1870s, one of the oldest in Buffalo. The owner Lee tells me that they display works from local artists and are scheduled to start a new display sometime in October.
I found Blu to have a very relaxing yet sophisticated atmosphere; that they specialize in unfamiliar types of drinks is an added bonus.
Blu, located adjacent to and connected to Osaka Sushi Bar at 3112 Main Street, is open from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday but is only open until midnight on Mondays. Blu serves sushi and other Japanese cuisine from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Monday and until 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
I will definitely be back to try some more of the drinks they offer and to view the new artwork they display. I'll even bring my friends, but I'll be sure to let them know that you may not be able to taste the sake, but it is definitely still there!