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Surprising Buffalo: Mike A’s

“Dinner was exceptional, probably the best meal I had since dining at the acclaimed Next in Chicago last summer.” -Steve Jermanok

Buffalo just got some good press by travel writer Steve Jermanok (on assignment for The Boston Globe) who not only hyped up the city’s architecture, but also highly praised the food scene – most notably Mike A’s Steakhouse, stating that it was the best meal that he had had since last dining at a well known restaurant in Chicago the previous summer. Check out the major kudos he gives to downtown’s newest hotspot:
“Saved by Buffalo’s favorite son, developer Rocco Termini, the circa-1904 Lafayette Hotel has reclaimed its French Renaissance and Art Deco glamour and is now a boutique hotel with a vintage bar. Dinner was exceptional, probably the best meal I had since dining at the acclaimed Next in Chicago last summer. Mike Andrzejewski is one of the city’s best loved chefs and he finally has a high-end restaurant that matches his talent. One taste of his wagyu beef tartare, spiced with pine nuts, capers, watercress, red onions, olive oil, truffled dijon mustard, and egg yolk, and you realize this dude’s destined for a James Beard Award.”

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • ex-716

    I think the Lafayette Hotel and associated restaurants and ballrooms are a “big deal” for Buffalo. Every impressive city I can think of has at least one beautifully restored downtown hotel. Now Buffalo can join that league. Now let’s all give Termini some business so this place is a success!

  • Peter Burakowski

    I had the pleasure of helping show Steve around town last week – thank you to everyone who made him feel so welcome!
    Look for a full travel story to run in the Boston Globe later this summer.
    Peter Burakowski
    Communications Manager
    Visit Buffalo Niagara

  • The Boss

    Although pricey and a somewhat limited menu, the food was excellant, the cocktails in bar were great, wine list has many great selections, a top notch addition to the Buffalo dining scene. I loved it!!

  • DMZ

    I went for drinks a few weeks back, besides the great drinks this is easily the coolest looking bar in Buffalo.

  • ByronBrownsTie

    There’s nothing surprising about Mike. At all.

  • Chris

    Most new establishments (james beard type) have smaller menus. The idea being to be really really good at a few things.
    Price point is high, but the place is small so I can see it working. Especially if reviews continue like this…
    Glad to see the bar is rising… Can’t wait for the day when someone delivers a tasting only experience in Buffalo.

  • BuffaloRox

    I don’t think the price point at Mike A’s is high compared to other area steakhouses if you factor in the cost of side dishes (included in each entree). The sides are a la carte at other area steakhouses. While the a la carte option is fine with bigger groups, for two people it tends to be expensive and, IMO, wasteful.

  • LouisTully

    I recall recently someone saying they hope the tenants/guests aren’t too bored in this location. Hmmmm…
    I ate at Pan Am a couple of weeks ago (food and atmosphere was what you expect at a place like that; and was wonderful), and the clerk at the hotel desk gave us a key to check out a room. It was incredible, to say the least. Definitely would’ve thought you were in some high-end NYC hotel. This restaurant makes that sentiment even more so.

  • paulsobo

    The LaFayette is a small scale of the potential for the Statler. Everyone should have high hopes for the Statler.
    One thing that will never happen is the reconstruction of the Art Nuveau Hotel Buffalo, a wonderful light green glazed terra cotta exterior that rivaled the Prudential Building in beauty.
    Or for those familiar with the DAKOTA in NYC there was the Hotel Iroquois.
    I’d love to see these 2 Hotel’s return to Buffalo as residential. They would make incredible additions to our downtown…then 1 more very modern hotel like the Avant.
    The one thing downtown Buffalo doesnt need is the Hyatt, its atrium and the convention center. The Hyatt should be mixed use office/residential. The convention center is to small and obsolete. Buffalo needs a convention center and a conference center.

  • The Boss

    ok paulsobo, we get it, you don’t like the Hyatt as a hotel, and you want the Liberty Building to go residential too, you have made it quite clear. Might be time for a new username….again.

  • Jack

    Anyone thinking about a new convention center in Buffalo should read the Atlantic Cities article about convention centers There are just too many around now and a new one in Buffalo would certainly be underused:
    “So many were saying, ‘all you have to do is get one percent of the national market and you’ll do just fine,'” he says. “Three hundred cities bought the same logic.”

  • jwright

    The building is amazing, you feel like Roy Hobbs will walk around the corner at any moment. I just can’t get behind the prices at Mike A’s though. I understand that not everyplace is going to appeal to the wings & beer budget but at Mike’s with two people, after drinks & tip, you’ll easily spend $250-300, that’s on par with some really good spots in NYC & LA. Mike might be an iconic figure in Buffalo but I haven’t been to any local high end restaurant that has ever blown me away or has been consistently good. That being said, I have not tried the new place, I’ll have to wait for a groupon deal.

  • ladyinwhite

    I’m sure the tenants are here every night dropping $150 bucks on dinner.

  • LouisTully

    They may be. Should we assume not, just because you or I cannot afford to? Nevertheless, the point is this is yet another thing to do in an area that already has plenty.

  • anonymous000

    A disappointment from one of WNY’s seasoned restaurant owners, & we never even made it to review the food! Our issues started with the lack of a sign for the restaurant/dining room, and some confusion between where to check-in, in relation to the location of the bar. (Note: it is a restaurant bar, not an open late hotel lobby bar.) A cheap curtain between the kitchen and the dining room, was our first red flag, far from five-star. The drink menu was impressive, and the specialty drinks even came with an old fashion single large ice cube, like Vera Pizzeria also oes (nice touch). The odor of old and new in the place mixed together, interestingly. We especially liked chandelier lights in the bar area, but they totally missed with carrying the noir lights also into the dining room. (Cheap Home Depot spotlights throughout the entire dining room.) We then made our way into the loud echoing dining room, with beautiful high ceilings, which unfortunately only exacerbated the high noise level. There were nice mosaics throughout, and the unshaded windows provide a nice view of the library. We then had issue with the overzealous waiter trying to give us each 4 pieces of bread (another amateur mistake). Then after an expected deep dive into the menu, there was a lack of any specials menu. Now this is something that isn’t necessarily mandatory, but expected by many (another miss). Then came a whipped cream radish teaser thingy (another fail). We placed our orders and promptly received some overcooked scallops, and romaine wedge salad (didn’t know that a WEDGE came from Romaine- not what we expected) with a nice bottle of mildly priced pinot noir was ordered. Our wine arrived and the waiter then spilled our bottle of red wine all over me!!!, which promptly and effectively ruined any chance of any further review, EPIC FAIL! Given the above we cannot recommend this restaurant. This place has only been open a few weeks, but we expected so much more.

  • mikea

    RESPONSE to ANONYMOUs000 Hello Christopher Hawkins of HSBC bank aka Anonymous000, Lets tell the readers the whole story here- and Why you are angry , you classless pig. Mr. Hawkins showed up at the Lafayette hotel last weekend claiming he had a reservation under another name. Our hostess who behaved as profesionnally as posible to accomodated him and tolerate his obviously intoxicated ,agitated and agressive behavior moved thier table twice to satisfy his demands. The server was as tolerant as possible while Mr. Hawkins bantered and stammered, and the table ordered a bottle of wine and the rest of the savory portion of the meal. After eating the appetizers AND finishing the wine Mr. Hawkins puposely knocked over the empty bottle in a childish display of bad acting, blaming it on the waiter startling him. (This was witnessed and verified by other guests around him in the dining room.) Again making a scene he instructed the other guests to retrieve the car from the valet andhe would “take care of the check”. when the manager went to print the check Hawkins then sprinted out the door and left without paying his bill, and worse stiffing the server whom he abused through his service. BUT WAIT – Hawkins then went to Seabar , Our other restaurant and demanded tho the Host that she take care of him and that “Mike A” himself sent him there to make up for his experience. Sherri, my wife and owner of Seabar trying to make the best of a bad situation promptly moved things around seated Hawkins , who once again was a complete Obnoxious jackass to the server. and the staff proceeded to try and provide a good dining experience, all the while Hawkins and his pathetic girlfriend with tears in her eyes berated my restaurants to everyone within earshot. Finally after being called about the situation I arrived at Seabar from the Hotel , just in time to hear how the server should be ashamed and that we owed him money. Immediately I made sure to tell him to get himself and everything else assoiated with him out of my restaurant, and the spineless tool even admitted he spilled the empty wine which he already had finished and skipped out on a bill. Demanding that he leave immediately he and entourage finally exited. BUT it gets better! After leaving the scumbag gets pulled over by Police , who is aware of the situation and make him call the restaurant and turn over his credit card number to cover our cost. To end the saga , the other couple they were dining with ,so mortified and embarresed went back to the Lafayette and payed for the wine Mr Hawkins stole, and explained to our management that they wanted no part of such behavior. To them THANK YOU! that was a classy and dignified thing to do and earned a great deal of respect from our staff. Chris Hawkins is really a spineless and crass individual,and stories abound about his horrendous actions and abusive behavior throughout the restaurant indusrty. Now he is such gutless clown he wont sign is name to false critism he is slandering all over the internet … I will though- this is the rest of the story. Mike Andrzejewski

  • whyyahate

    Dear Mr Hawkins,
    You just got served.

  • christyvukelic

    You go Mike ,Congratulations,,can’t wait to experience the steak house,,,had a great meal on Monday at Sea Bar…and, I know you will be very successful at Mikes:)

  • buffalopundit

    Christopher Hawkins got served and pwn3d.
    I happen to think Mike A’s is fantastic – the best special occasion / fine dining place in town.

  • mindyc

    Mike….you are awesome!!! Havent been to your place yet but let me tell you something…as soon as i can …I WILL BE THERE. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your response to the jackass that wrote that nasty review. Unfortunately, there are some nasty people out there that for some reason there parents raised them to think the sun rises and sets at their feet and then they carry that through life thinking they can treat people like shit UNTIL someone like you sets them straight. Good job!!!!

  • Emily J

    Mike, I find your comment extremely unprofessional and off putting, actually I am a bit embarrassed for you. Your response makes you sound like just as much of a ‘jackass’ as the other guy.

  • Josh Bauer

    We in the restaurant are too often bullied by people who perceive servers as servants and put themselves on some sort of pedastal, especially if they wield a pen and an audience. To hear someone called on such a rampant problem throughout food service warms my heart. Here’s hoping more people follow suit, as fear and business worries leave many owners too often silent to this behavior.
    And a true man and writer always signs his work. To put anonymous to such a strong complaint is cowardly.

  • bbqpitstop

    EMILY J, I am embarrassed for you. Mike’s response is mild and warranted in light of the audacity to cause such a melee and then proceed to make a public matter of it by posting a rather skewed account of the incident at 2:50 pm the following day.
    Somehow I doubt anyone that has worked a day in the restaurant business will agree with you. Where a restauranteur buys his light fixtures isn’t exactly an epic fail in the world of food reviews. That should have been your first clue that this is a first rate aggressive slam. He deserves every bit of Mike A’s response.

  • crc

    Although I can’t agree with Anonymous000 in anyway whatsoever, I find Mike’s response a bit ironic.
    Since when does he care about how his employees are treated? I think it’s well known (but never talked about publicly) that Mike doesn’t treat his employees with respect. During service he constantly yells, swears and berates them, even in the front of customers.
    Call a spade a spade.

  • kmg

    john pett reincarnated

  • NorPark

    Christopher Hawkins is the champagne of clowns

  • Linwood-Resident

    Excellent reference! Totally agree.


    Chef Mike’s response is priceless and I believe that his version is the real story of how events occurred that night. I worked with Mike Andrzejewski many years ago at Oliver’s and I can attest that he is a great chef, but also a real jerk. To “CH” AKA anonymous000 I would say keep your current job because who in their right mind would hire you after reading about this event?

  • mlk1113

    @crc Since when you known any chef to be “nice” to his/her staff during service? It is a high pressure position in which that chef’s NAME and livliehood is on the business. It is how they feed their famlies at night. Having worked for a couple Beard award winners/nominees (Kevin Binkley, James Porter), and served (Grant Achatz, his entire staff, Jordan Kahn, and several others who politely have put me in my place as guests, but would have never tolderated my/or anyone else’s ignorance as an employee) I can tell you they are demanding and tough in the kitchen AND at the table..and they require the uptmost commitment to their craft, the way it is presented the knowledge required to serve their food. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be award winners. And their staff wouldn’t perform with at the level at which they are required to earn said awards. I too look forward to heading home to have a drink and check this place out..and continue to hope for a true tasting menu experience to come to the Queen City. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tried before. Good luck and Congrats to Mike A and the rest of the gang working hard in an industry that chews people up and spits them out if you don’t put out great food and great service consistently. Demand great service of your employees. Continue to demand it..and yeah, front of the house staff deserves a little disciplining, especially if they are not performing.
    Lanie Kosanovich
    Santa Monica, CA

  • crc

    Please. Talk about an over-simplification.
    Since when is being a chef or in any high-pressure position an excuse to treat people poorly? I’m not buying it.

  • HF

    If Mike A treats his staff so poorly why have they been working for him for so long? Many of the staff at Seabar have been there since the opening. I eat at his places often and have often visited him in the kitchen and never witnessed the behaviors alleged here.

  • Maria

    HA! your embarrassed for Mike? He has a reputation to uphold and cares about his employees who are also being bashed, so of course he is going to respond to this lunatic. I work for Mike and he treats his employees with nothing but respect. I feel honored to be working for him. There is a reason he is so successful HE IS SO GOOD AT WHAT HE DOES. Not only is he an incredible chef, he is also extremely generous and nothing but professional all of the time.

  • bbqpitstop

    Restaurant work is not for the thin skinned. Imagine spending days to create the perfect broth, prepping ingredients and making sure all is perfect only to have a waiter leave a plate too long under a heat lamp or be unable to describe the dish to a customer.
    Ever host Thanksgiving or Christmas with your family ? Try doing it day in and day out, and imagine your reaction when someone leaves the turkey on the edge of the table and it falls on the floor. Imagine it happening a multitude of times over the course of a week.
    During the service hours, stress is at an all time high. Usually any emloyee catching some wrath understands that after service hours, all is forgiven, but don’t do it again, or expect to be reprimanded. It is hard as a chef and owner to put your reputation and creations in the hands of service personnel and when that trust is broken it is not something you’re going to address nicely especially in the chaos of service hours. Customers expect perfection. Chefs demand perfection of themselves AND their staff. If you don’t want to bear a chef’s wrath, do your job and do it well

  • Anthony1212

    Wow….Christopher Hawkins should be ashamed of himself….sounds like he should eat at home until he can control himself in a public atmosphere!
    The restaurant industry is a revolving door when it comes to employees with the exception of Mike’s establishments. The staff at Cantina Loco and Seabar consist of professional veterans….most of whom have been there from the get go! I have heard nothing but quality remarks about Mike as an employer…I find crc’s comment without merit!
    Your food rocks Mike!! Keep up the momentum!!

  • Andrew Murtha

    This is priceless!
    Being a chef is incredibly difficult. For those of us who care, we spend our days managing details upon details upon details; and all the while cooks, servers, and owners are barraging us with rediculous questions and requests. Unless you do this for a living, you have NO idea what it’s like to live a day battling stress, and fighting every moment to keep a level head and be a leader and a teacher.
    With that said, we also have to cope with the INTERNET. Where every rob dick and Tom can say whatever he or she wants. Often this quantifies itself in uneducated comments read by innumerable amounts of readers, quite possibly having a negative impact on our local businesses.
    To becomes chef, you not only have to be educated, you have to dedicate your life to learning. This is a LIFETIME journey…. What does it require to become a blogger? What requirements are necessary to trash a restaurant online?
    I’m proud of chef Mike for sticking up for himself.
    -Andrew Murtha

  • Andrew Murtha

    **not so much blogger, but trashing a place online u get the point

  • mlk1113

    @crc You are not buying what exactly? Being a chef, with yoru name on the marquee is a REASON to demand excellence from support staff. I EXPLAIN exactly what that means.
    Not since early man first knapped flint into rudimentary hand axes has there been a bigger tool than you and your oversimplified comment.
    And if you can’t identify yourself publicly and put your name to your comments which could be deemed untrue or inflammatory, you are walking a fine line. Or if he ever yelled at you personally, your level of mental acuity probably warranted it, if I’m going solely off of what I’ve seen you write here. And I totally call your credibility into question.
    Just callin a spade a spade.

  • PatrickMaguire

    I just published a blog post including comments from Mike A and Chris H. Please join the conversation if you have more to add to this story.
    Thank you-Patrick Maguire