Liberty Hound, located at 1 Naval Park Cove, is perfectly situated to view the best of what the city of Buffalo has to offer. With waterfront seating, live bands, and a gorgeous view of the Naval ships; this restaurant should be top notch. The atmosphere has a rustic industrial charm to it and the wrap around back patio sits right on the inner harbor, where you can almost reach out and touch the naval ships on display. And with a menu as creative as the name itself, you’d think this is “the” summer hot spot.
The name Liberty Hound refers back to mariner times; when a sailor/mariner was designated as the first to exit a ship while on shore leave, and the last to return. Not only does the sailor hold the responsibility of the title itself, but of every sailor on leave; making sure that they live life to the fullest, but also that they are all accounted for on return to the ship.
Unfortunately the restuarant does not exactly live up to history’s reputation of its name. As we arrived, a hostess greeted us kindly and I simply stated “we are here to listen to the band and eat dinner.” She directed us outside and we took our seats at a table by the water. Within ten minutes a waiter came up to us and asked us if we had seen the hostess for “these” seats, I said yes, and without menu’s placed before us, he walked away. Once menu’s were secured, we ordered drinks (only one each) and our food. What impressed me was that anything on the menu can be made to order. With this said, I orderd fresh mussels sauted in a beer, wine reduction and smoked bacon with carmalized onions ($8.95). The mussels were amazing, and due to the bacon, had a gorgeous aramatic smoked flavor. Normally these are served with bleu cheese; again they were very accomodating when it came to food changes. Next on the list was lightly breaded crab cakes with red pepper and chili sauce ($9.95). Again very good; flakey with great flavor, and not deep fried, so it was easy on the digestive system. After this I was served an Ahi tuna with fresh lettuce and a balsamic dressing ($13.00?). I asked for sushi grade, instead I got medium rare and almost no flavor on the tuna. The tuna was overcooked and ended up being a bit tough; disappointing. The burger that was sampled was brought out with no cheese (a good thing,) but was extremely overcooked. So while they do cater to celiac and lactose individuals, it’s not exactly my cup of tea.
But the real disappointment came after we ate. We ordered another round of drinks, sat and listened to music and enjoyed the scenery. Our waitress brought our group the check (without us asking for it) and came over every 5 minutes to see if it was ready to cash out. Apparently they need to turn over tables, quickly. We not only felt rushed to move, but when we looked at our check; what I thought would be a $50-60 dollar meal was $88.00! Why? The drinks….oh the drinks! We only ordered two rounds, and the drink bill was more than our dinner. My wine (not top shelf wine, by the way) was a $7.50 glass of wine, my guests drinks: beer ($5-6.00) per glass and mixed drinks range from ($5.00-7.50). Because we wanted to watch the band, Troop 556 (who are truly artistic and melodic. Their flare for original song writing tinged with southern blues personality, impressed me more than the service,) we ordered drinks while standing on the patio. We ended up with a $150.00 dollar bill when all was said and done. This is not NYC, this is buffalo NY; and while the view is nice, it’s no cape cod coastal restaurant.
The kicker- while listening to the music, I happened to notice another gentleman who was quietly sitting by himself at a table near where we stood. He had a drink infront of him and was just sitting by himself, jamming to the music. When a waiter came over and asked him to move, he asked why? He had ordered dinner through them and now had a drink; he was a paying customer. The waiter said this table is for dinner ONLY. He asked if anyone needed to sit down? The waiter said not at the moment, but you need to move. The gentleman made a small fuss, but got up and stood near the table. Eventually the owner came out and asked the guy to leave! He didn’t do anything wrong.
My overall impression was this; sputnik may have come out of the gates strong, but it ended in miserable failure……
Just because you buy a premiere lot on waterfront property and call it a “restaurant” does not a restaurant it make. Liberty Hound believes in quantity not quality; and to me that is the biggest failure. With a struggling economy in this area, and unemployment still high, you can’t expect people to pay those prices just because you’re a waterfront restaurant. And if you don’t value your patrons after they have given you their money, all because you need to make more more more, then you shouldn’t own a restaurant.
If I’m going to spend over $150.00 for an ok meal and just a few drinks; well I’d rather spend that on a good pair of shoes or a premium bottle of vintage Bordeaux!