The new Parkside Meadow pumps tasty new life into old memories

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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.

Opening night at the Parkside Meadow, Parkside and Russell Avenues, across the street from the Buffalo Zoo. Over locally brewed beers, people remembered the old Park Meadow, enjoyed the tasteful memorabilia displayed and waited for a chance to taste gourmet takes on a variety of sandwiches. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

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.

The 1950s Iroquois Beer neon sign on the front window offers a pretty good idea of what you should expect inside. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

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.

Among the old Buffalo taverns remembered on the walls of the new Parkside Meadow: The Park Meadow, which was a neighborhood fish fry and college party institution from the 1950s through the 1980s. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

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.

Among the blasts from the past: Salt and pepper shakers made from Visniak and other old Buffalo pop bottles. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

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.

A Buffalo Friday night at the Parkside Meadow: Hush puppy beer-battered haddock, with skin-on fries and cole slaw, and a Genesee draft. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

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.

This review originally appeared in Gusto.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.