Last night marked the soft opening of Mark Croce’s Curtiss Hotel. While there were a number of minor “pardon our dust” issues, for the most part, the place looked incredible. It was also fully staffed, ensuring that the optimal customer experience was at hand… starting with valet service under the porte cochère, extending past the LED and torch-lit indoor-outdoor ‘Roman Bath’ hot springs soaking pool, and onto the point where guests are greeted by a series of fountains at the ‘grand entrance’. It only gets more posh after that.
Upon walking into the lobby, guests will notice a beautiful custom-made chandelier – it’s a real show stopper, as is just about everything else that is original to the hotel. From there, the world is your oyster – guests can check in at the lobby (68 room hotel), grab a seat in the dazzling foyer, or head straight for the rotating bar at Chez Ami Restaurant (200 seat, with patio).
Last night, we headed straight for the rotating bar. Par for the Croce course, the experience was nothing short of delightful, from the professional staff to the bar’s lavish black tourmaline beaded backdrop.
It didn’t take long to notice that the counter was slowly moving clockwise around the room – one rotation per hour. It was a strange sensation to say the least, but everyone appeared to be loving the unusual feature (a nod to the original Chez Ami).
We found it funny that the staff could only enter and exit the interior of the bar station after one full rotation was complete. That’s because the only time that the portal appears, is when the opening in the bartop aligns with the opening in the bar’s face (or something along those lines). So if you ever notice that the bar has stopped rotating, it means that the bar staff is making a series of pit stops, and refueling before the next circle around the room.
I would be remiss not to mention the six unisex bathrooms off of the lobby. Each one is different, and each one is fabulous. Taking a trip to the loo is essential when visiting Chez Ami – be sure to make multiple trips to check out the varying décors.
While I did not eat, I did scope out the menu. Menu items of interest include Charred Asparagus (crispy egg, bacon lardons, frisee, potato, dijon vinaigrette – $12 app), Compressed Melon (smoked prosciutto, mint, pickled cippollini – $12 – app), Gnocchetti (ricotta sauce, summer black truffle, parmigiano reggiano – $16), Garganelli (crab, prawns, Calabrian chili, tomato, breadcrumb, basil – $18), Oysters (1/2 doz. daily selection with cucumber ponzu – $18), Beef Tartare (traditional flavors, egg yolk, horseradish – $15), Margherita Pizza (Buffalo mozzarella, plum, tomato, fresh basil, Sicilian EVOO – $16), “Chez” Burger (onion bacon jam, tripple cream, tomato, frisee, dijonaise), Scallops (large plate – celeriac, green apple, almond, brown butter vinaigrette – $34), Striploin (variation on onions, bone marrow, roasted garlic, red wine – $46), and Aged Duck (orange, heirloom carrot, pistachio, fennel. duck jus – $34).
Once fully operational, Curtiss Hotel will feature a boutique men’s salon, and VUE Rooftop Lounge (soft opening July 15). In the meantime, this place is raring to go. It’s great to see someone put so much time and money into a building of this nature. At one point in Buffalo’s history, it was commonplace to pay this much attention to luxury and detail. It’s nice to see some of that class finally coming back to a city that deserves these kinds of accommodations and amenities. It looks like we’ve come full circle with this one.