2067 Kensington Ave., Amherst, NY 14226
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"The only dish that was a standout in any way was the Chicken Wings; we split a double order into hot and BBQ flavors just to see how the sauces were, and found their crispiness to be their major asset."
Most of the time, we struggle to condense our thoughts about the restaurants we visit into something short enough for people to enjoy reading, but on occasion, we come across a place that we don't have a lot to say about. The Snyder Bar & Grill is the latest example, a strip mall tavern on Kensington Avenue near notable restaurants The King and I and San Marco. We briefly discuss it along with quick updates to our earlier articles on Williamsville's Jojo Bistro and Amherst's Chipotle.
As one might guess from its name, the Snyder Bar & Grill is a small neighborhood tavern with a highly familiar menu, featuring two pages of sandwiches, wraps, salads, chicken wings and fingers in addition to bar offerings. It looks and feels a little rough when you first enter, with a fairly dark bar area and a somewhat ragged separate dining room. Unlike, say, the nicely decorated Amherst Pizza & Ale House, the only thing that distinguished the Snyder Bar & Grill from dozens of other local taverns was the service: our server was extremely friendly and accommodating, and dishes came out relatively quickly, though there weren't many other people in the place when we showed up for a Thursday night dinner.
Only one of the dishes we ordered was a positive standout in any way, and that was the Chicken Wings - a double order ($12.50) split into hot and BBQ wings just to see how the sauces were. Snyder Bar & Grill is one of the relatively few local restaurants that aggressively fries its wings to the point where the sauce doesn't soften their crispy exteriors, a point that some people really care a lot about, and others don't. This place has the crispy part down, but unfortunately, the sauces were nothing special; the hot sauce was too thin, and the BBQ was fine, not memorable - neither was amongst the best we've had locally, even in the last month.
Other items we sampled were all in the "okay" category. The first item we received, a bowl of French Onion Soup ($5), was disappointingly weak in the cheese department, without having covered the full top of the crock, but the croutons, beefy broth, and onions were all fine. It was quickly followed by a decent plate of Garlic Bread with Cheese ($4), with toast point-like pieces of buttery, soggy bread topped with mozzarella, then served with a dish of sweet marinara; we found the bread to be filling, not thrilling. Additionally, a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich ($7.50) was lifeless, its lightly grilled bun hosting similarly scant cheese, so-so- meat, and onions that weren't particularly strong in flavor or looks - its included fat french fries were a little on the soggy side, and plain.
Several other selections made by our small group, including another soup and a salad, were similarly deemed only passable, and we were unable to order the only other thing that interested us - the fish fry, touted in one of a number of questionable Urbanspoon reviews - as it wasn't Friday, the only day it's stocked and offered. Based on everything else we tried, we're operating under the assumption that the hype is just hype, and we're not planning to rush back to find out. For now, Snyder Bar and Grill will remain unrated, but should we visit again, we'll update this article with additional details and stars.
Jojo Bistro. We updated our review of Jojo Bistro on January 14, 2010 with the following additional text and a two-star rating based on a followup visit.
The verdict is in on Jojo Bistro, and it's unfortunately not very positive: our follow-up meal regrettably found no improvement from the original, as dishes arrived under- and over-cooked, then in some cases just not tasty, which led us to abandon unfinished plates and leave the place without dessert. Our view is that the highlight of Jojo is its wine bar, which offers various affordable sampling flights, and provides a more compelling experience than actually eating a meal at the restaurant.
Problems are clearly traceable to the kitchen: after another tear-it-yourself baguette that was almost completely dried out, the literally burnt, dried-out cauliflower and broccoli accompanying a completely boring Pork Chop should never have been served, while the "roasted" garlic served as an appetizer plate was green and bland, mixing poorly with thin included crackers. Though a Beet Salad was decent - nicer looking than it tasted, but fine in both regards - a Margherita Pizza was one of the sorriest attempts at such a thing we've yet seen, a mess of half-rubbery, half cracker-like dough with too little sauce, dried-out basil leaves, and a thin layer of goopy cheese on top. The highlight of the meal was a French nacho-like plate of homemade potato chips with Gruyere and Bleu cheeses; the chips tasted quite nice, and the cheeses were pretty good. Opinions ranged from 1.75 to 2.25 stars before we agreed that a 2-star rating was appropriate; unless something dramatic changes in the kitchen, we would not go back.
Chipotle. We updated our review of Chipotle on January 17, 2010 with the following additional text and a three-star rating based on a followup visit.
There may be some debate over whether Chipotle is superior to or equivalent to its locally more established competitor Salsarita's, and the reasons are clear: from location to location, Salsarita's offers nicer dining rooms, a more impressive "cantina" bar, and food that at times looks even fresher and more diverse than Chipotle's. In fact, shrimp, fresh red onions, jalapenos, and other ingredients are individually available at Salsarita's, and either unavailable or mixed in with other items at Chipotle, which treats its taco-, salad-, and burrito-making process like an even more streamlined assembly line; the industrial, spartan look of the seating area in Chipotle may well appeal more to some people than others, as well.
But let there be no doubt: the quality and flavors of the meats and salsas used in assembling Chipotle's menu items are high enough that we'd never object to eating there; we're frankly thrilled to have a place that does barbacoa beef and marinated steak so well, offering such high-quality meat in tacos that are roughly $2 each when purchased in threes. The salads and burritos are similarly reasonably priced, and just as compelling as the tacos for those who are looking for higher proportions of vegetables or rice and beans. Each of the meals we've eaten at the Chipotle here have been like what we experienced in California: very good, reasonably priced Tex-Mex that's at least as well suited for takeout as for dining in. Just make sure you check your bag for all your items before you leave.