While we were on our way to Bikes and Beers night at McCarthy’s (Old First Ward) last evening, we chose a route that swung us past Encore (see original post). I had not stepped foot into the establishment since they had opened, so we decided to stop in for a beer and poke around. The interior of the former Hemmingway’s is really top notch. The owners have really taken the time to polish the old establishment – the place has been reworked from top to bottom. Heck, any restaurant that offers five working fireplaces is alright in my book. Plus, there’s a hypnotic salt water fish tank located towards the back of the bar area… very smooth.
I think that the hardest decision that anyone will make is choosing the best place to sit. There’s a warm bar, a private seating room with curtains, a couple street-side tables, seating near the sushi bar, seating in the vaulted dining room… there are so many choices and the rear patio is not even open yet. Co-owner, Joe Gugino, showed us around at all of the latest additions, including the modern bathrooms, the indirect lighting features and, of course, the menus. I say menus (plural) because there are a few different ones to browse through depending on your mood. There’s a bar menu, a dinner special menu, a sushi menu and then a staples menu… any one of the offerings can be eaten at any seating area within Encore.
The food offerings range from a trio of sliders, poutine with short ribs, gourmet lettuce wraps, coq au vin, and of course killer cuts of fish and steak. After all, it is a steak house with a hint of sushi bar on the side. Heading up the sushi end of things is Get Inthalasy (formerly of Pangaea) who’s busy serving up an abbreviated menu of rolls, sashimi that should satisfy any sushi-lover who might be accompanying a steak aficionado. I hear that the weekend turnouts have been sensational, not just with the theater crowd, but with young professionals. Last night there were a bunch of lady basketball fans watching some men’s hoops at the bar (during a Sabres’ game?). They looked pretty into the game, so we didn’t really want to disrupt their viewing for fear that they would get all Russ Meyers on us. So we left well-enough alone and decided to show up earlier for the next game-night.
Kudos to Encore for reworking Hemmingway’s and creating a hangout for steak and sushi-lovers right around the corner from Chippewa. I can’t wait to see what they do with the patio this spring. In the meantime, I’m all for hanging out next to a real stokes fireplace on cold winter nights. The sushi angle is nice too.
Encore is located at 492 Pearl Street | 716-931-5001