Now known as One Canalside, the former General William J. Donovan State Office Building is now an anchor of what’s fun, new and exciting in Buffalo’s inner harbor — from the new Pizza Plant to the spectacular top floor headquarters of Phillips Lytle.
Buffalo News archives
Just as the refurbished building represents what Western New Yorkers hope is a “New Buffalo” on the horizon, when it first opened in 1962, it also represented what was new and exciting.
Century-old buildings, seen as tired and worn out, were bulldozed to make way for the building — the construction of which was followed closely by both The Evening News and Courier-Express in much the same way we all anxiously followed the construction of HarborCenter.
This was the view from the roof of the Donovan Building, looking north up the 190, shortly after the building opened in 1963. That’s the corner of Memorial Auditorium in the foreground, the Col. Ward Pumping Station in the distance to the left, and to the right is the familiar top of Buffalo’s City Hall.
Otherwise, most of the 19th century buildings in view are long gone, replaced by the Marine Midland/One Seneca Building and the WNED/WBFO studios, the Adam’s Mark Hotel and others.
To the left of the Ashland Oil sign, you can still make out the front of the Buffalo Gas Works building — the front of which still stands as part of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield headquarters.
Judging by the smells, tastes, and smiles of its first day, the Parkside Meadow (corner of Parkside and Russell avenues, Buffalo) looks poised to be an institution on par with the warmly remembered predecessor you couldn’t go five minutes without hearing about.
Echoes of the old Park Meadow, the venerable neighborhood fish fry place-turned college party hangout, were everywhere, as strangers reminisced about their days and nights in the PM — those memories growing as hazy as they were on some of those nights.
The good news is the Parkside Meadow, just like the people who remember the old PM, has grown more sophisticated in its current iteration, cultivating a more subdued yet still fascinating environment for drinks and imaginative and tasty takes on sandwich favorites.
Aside from the stories that come along with the building, the place has been tastefully decorated in with hundreds of museum quality pieces of Buffalo’s industrial, retail, and beer drinking past. Dozens of matchbooks from Buffalo taverns and gin mills of yesteryear. Stoneware jugs from Buffalo’s oldest brewers and distillers. Boxes and crates once filled with bottles of beer like Simon Pure, Iroquois, and Beck’s, all once brewed by proud Buffalonians.
From the display cases, to the walls, down to each tabletop, food delivered to your tabletop is almost an interruption of taking in what Buffalo once was. But then you take a bite, and it’s all about the plate in front of you.
The menu is simple. It’s a single sheet of heavy stock with a large selection of gourmet-style takes on sandwiches ranging from shaved lamb to fried bologna plus a few salads and larger entrees. The menu offers a chance for some interesting tastes on a corner tavern budget– nine of the menu’s 11 sandwiches are less than $10 and include fries. The full bar offers seven different locally sourced beers on tap, ranging from McKenzie’s Hard Cider and Rusty Chain to the venerable Genesee.
Opening night was a Friday night, and just like any good Buffalo spot, fish was on the menu. Three broiled options and one fried. The Hush puppy and beer-battered fish fry is a true-to-the-original twist on a Buffalo favorite, with batter that was a hint sweet and very thick and tasty.
Whether you have foggy memories of the Park Meadow you’d like to relive or you’re just looking for a new spot that from food to atmosphere is really different from any other place in Buffalo, a stop at the Parkside Meadow is recommended.