For the ever-growing number of us who frequent Grant St. for food, fun and entertainment, Gypsy Parlor has quickly become a new mainstay.
Having been open for several years now at 376 Grant St., the eclectic café, bar and music venue is more likely than ever to come up in conversation among friends and coworkers as an option for dinner or a stop on your late-night bar-hopping itinerary.
To understand the appeal of a place like Gypsy Parlor, well, maybe you just have to see it for yourself. Just be ready to expect the unexpected.
The “gypsy” atmosphere is reflected in the decor–moody lighting, floral wallpaper, an old piano in the corner–and in the space itself, which is set up primarily as a bar and performance space but is also quite comfortable for a cup of coffee or a sit-down dinner, at least before the late crowd arrives.
It was a warm summer evening when we stopped by, and we chose the patio. We ordered a frozen daiquiri and one of the specialty cocktails, called the Herbal Remedy, for $8 each. The price might have been a bit high for the daiquiri, but the Herbal Remedy was worth it. A gin drink with lavender bitters, honey and a homemade tonic, its flavors were beautifully balanced and the presentation was enticing. It was as good a craft cocktail as I’ve had in places that specialize more in that sort of thing.
That’s Gypsy Parlor’s biggest strength: the ability to do many things pretty well despite not specializing in anything in particular. Nowhere is this more clear than in the food selection. At Gypsy Parlor, you can go around the world in one meal: for a taste of mediterranean Europe, try the mussels (special item, $13), which come with a hearty sauce with kale and scallions, and a side of warm bread for sopping; take a turn toward Latin America with the pastelillos (beef or chicken; $3); and finally, experience a taste of Asia with a ramen soup ($12 with pork or shrimp; $10 with tofu).
Gypsy Parlor’s attempts at homespun fusion cuisine are interesting as well. For me the most intriguing item on the menu is the Bánh Mì Poutine ($12). Poutine is a Canadian dish, a pile of french fries and cheese curds covered in gravy, and bánh mì is a Vietnamese term meaning bread, often referring to a type of sandwich with pork, fresh and pickled vegetables, and cilantro.
Gypsy Parlor’s combination of the two is mostly poutine, but with the addition of pulled pork, spicy pickles, cilantro and Sriracha. Be forewarned: this is one of the largest poutines you will ever be served! And the addition of pork to an already-heavy dish means you may want to find someone to share. The pickle does a lot to cut the heaviness of the
dish with a little sour flavor; it made me wonder why I’ve never had pickles with a poutine before. If you are really craving bánh mì, this dish may not satisfy you–but I promise that it will not leave you hungry.
For dessert, the papanasi ($6) is a rustic Romanian donut stuffed with cottage cheese, dusted with powdered sugar and served with fruit, nuts and fennel. It’s an uncommon menu item in Buffalo, and their take on it is a worthy choice, intriguing enough to order even if you usually skip dessert when eating out.
Gypsy Parlor’s menu reflects the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood, and this strategy has worked really well to establish them as an almost rite-of-passage for an ever-growing population interested in culinary exploration and discovery. A worthwhile option whether you’re looking for a foodie adventure or just want to go out and have a few drinks before making any final decisions about what’s for dinner, Gypsy Parlor aims to please.