I’ve always loved Silo City. But now I love it even more. I didn’t get a chance to hang out there much this summer unfortunately. That is why I’ve been making a point of it to get down there more often, now that it’s fall. The reason that I have this newfound love for the place is Duende, Silo City’s new bar and restaurant.
A friend of mine, Robert Sturm (know around town as Bob the Builder) did a fantastic job of sourcing the materials from the industrial site to build the interior of the restaurant. From old windows fashioned into table tops, to green patina metal siding for the bar’s face, Duende is comprised of myriad rugged-yet-refined, upcycled building components that come together to create an aesthetic that is rarely found in any eating and drinking establishment (unless Bob the Builder had something to do with it).
Duende or tener duende (“to have duende“) is a Spanish term for a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity.
While Bob the Builder was a crucial component in constructing Duende, it was the direction of owners Rick Smith and Andrew Minier that led the passionate charge behind the effort. Smith, who owns Silo City, has always had his heart set in the creation of an establishment that embodied the spirit of the site. By all accounts, he has surpassed that intention, especially with the addition of The Cantina @ Duende, which I wrote about in June.
The first time that I ever stepped into Duende was this past spring, as a trifecta birthday party was being thrown. Rick Smith imparted a passionate speech that evening, which summed of the story of Duende, Silo City, and his determination to build up Silo City as a grassroots cultural center where appreciators of the arts, music, the environment, and Buffalo, can come together in an organic and inspiring atmosphere.
Since opening, Duende has slowly been building a devoted clientele that comes for the drinks, the rustic ambiance, and the food. In a stroke of luck, when we stopped in last evening, Doug Peck was cooking. Peck was the guy who commanded a devoted following of vegan wing lovers back in the days when Cybele’s was open in Allentown. “Doug’s Original Eggplant Wings” made other appearances around town, before ending up as a succulent culinary staple at Duende. The sumptuous wings alone are worth a visit. So is the Ratatouille Crêpe with asiago cream sauce. I wasn’t so sure about this one, but after digging in, I was sold. It was a welcome dish on a chilly evening – subtle yet flavorful. No knife needed, as the fork melted right into the crêpe, filled with delicately stewed vegetables.
All of this goodness can be found in one unassuming building, at Silo City. Whether you’re in the mood for a beer garden, an old world tavern experience supervised by bartender Damien Abbate, or a game of ring toss and a craft beer at The Cantina, Duende (and its surrounding environs) is a mouth watering eye opener into a “Buffalo” that we are only now beginning to tap into.
Duende is the type of place that we can all be proud of. My friend from Boston, who moved to Buffalo a few years ago, told me that places like Duende are the reasons that she loves this city so much. She was blown away by the place, mainly because there’s really nothing like it anywhere else. It’s the type of place that immediately feels like home, with no pretensions, set in an unforgettable surreal setting. Duende has “Buffalo” written all over it.