Standing Out in Clarence

Posted on: May 26, 2009
6 comments so far (is that a lot?)

It’s not that hard to stand out!  Really? Yes, it’s true!  If there is one thing I always preach and harp on about, it’s not to expect to get anywhere with your food thang (restaurant, etc….or even in creative/artistic endeavors, in general) unless you are doing something truly creative, innovative, interesting, different, enigmatic, compelling, singular…the list goes on.  It’s always surprising to me that so many places are seemingly oblivious to this obvious caveat.  Yet, I continually find the same predictable bistro fare on menu after menu…or the nausea inducing ubiquity (there’s that word again – and I disdain “ubiquity”, for the record!) of strip mall pizza/sub/wing shops littered throughout the region.  But I do LOVE buffalo food – and yes, that means our pizza, subs, and wings for that matter.  But people…get a clue.  A la Carla Bruni, let’s “evolve” a little bit too!  And that can mean something as small as putting your own twist on a traditional Buffalo food recipe or offering something just a cut above the standard issue blue plate.  C’mon Buffalo, I know you can!

This Memorial Day I was reminded of just how simple it can be to stand out from the competition.  We (the family) decided to take a drive into Clarence Center, to somewhere that might be okay to chill with a one year old kid on a hot day.  We found Clarence Center Coffee Company and Cafe.  What a cool little coffee house, in the dead center of…Clarence Center.  For the most part, this place is just like any other coffee house – good quality coffee, some fun and easy food offerings, shakes and smoothies, ice cream, you name it.  Alright, well it’s already pushing the limits of standard issue because they do offer a lot – and it seems well done (I did not eat, but the aroma of fried onions was tempting me for sure!).  But alas, there was nothing too earth shattering.  Except for one thing:  alcohol!!  Yes, booze…well, booze if you consider beer and wine boozy.  Yes, it’s that simple to stand out!
I’ve always been annoyed to no end that, in the US, we have this pathological fear of alcohol.  In Europe, they act like such bona fide adults about it – whereas in our ninny slash nanny state of panicked fear, we have to regulate it in such bizarre ways (google Utah’s “zion curtain” for details).  Thus, the age-old tradition of serving wine and beer in cafes (coffee houses) has always been, for the most part, a missing element of coffee house culture in America.  But not at this seemingly innocent little Clarence joint!
And they do it well.  They have a cooler full of assorted micro-brews – and about 30 open bottles of quality wine, ready to go.  What a refreshing sight!  And, low and behold, there was no disco, hip hop, or alternative rock blaring; no people puking in the bathroom; and no drunks bellied-up to a bar.  In other words, bucolic life as we know it in Clarence Center did not come to a screeching halt because “demon rum” was being consumed within its borders.  In fact, the place is a haven for families and kids.  If anything, my only issue was that there were too many middle school types there taking over the place.  (But hey, where else can a kid go these days.  And there is no place you’d rather have your kid go.  …though it’s a real hotbed of ice cream and soda pop if that troubles you.)
Other controversial items include: an open mic on Tuesdays and featured musical acts on Friday and Saturdays.  Did I tell you that the staff is also friendly, courteous, subversively attractive (the young woman who helped me was film starlet good-looking …but watch out, she shouldered a stereo pair of tattoos!), and intelligent (yes, physics was discussed).
All in all, Clarence Center Coffee Company and Cafe is nothing too out of the ordinary…or scary.  It’s just a good cut above – precisely because you can enjoy a fine Sauvignon Blanc or India Pale Ale while you’re there… if you dare.  Is that too much to ask from a coffee house? I think not!
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6 Responses to “Standing Out in Clarence”

  1. nelson Says:

    Clarence Center Coffee Company and Cafe:

    White Wine Selections

    Chardonnay, Katherine’s Cambria (California)
    ripe tropical fruit with a hint of cream
    Chardonnay, Sonoma, Sebastiani (California)
    rich, round with a silky texture
    Pinot Grigio, Renwood (California)
    rated excellent; great fruit
    Pinot Grigio, Voga (Italy)
    light and fruity with a great finish
    Riesling, St. Urbans-Hof (Germany)
    aroma of ripe peach and apricots
    White Zinfandel, Vendage (California)
    refreshing and not too dry

    Red Wine Selections

    Merlot, J. Lohr (California)
    rich red cherry notes and herbs, very elegant
    Sangiovese, Antinori, Santa Christiana (Italy)
    smooth with notes of cherry
    Cabernet Sauvignon, Estancia (California)
    dark and rich, a wonderfully balanced wine
    Cabernet/Shiraz, Kendall Jackson Collage (California)
    a blend of two great wines
    Shiraz, Tintara (Australia)
    crisp style has a bright core of berry flavors
    Pino Noir, Carmel Road (California)
    abundant ripe cherry, grape and strawberry flavors
    Meritage Red, Hahn (California)
    fruit that is ripe, rich and distinctive
    Primitivo, Tomaresca Torcicoda
    rich with enticing black cherry and cassis


    Red Stripe
    Coors Light
    Molson Canadian
    Molson Canadien Light
    Blue Moon
    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
    Yuengling Lager
    Yuengling Light
    Yuengling Black and Tan
    Yuengling Porter
    Pete’s Wicked Ale
    Sam Adams
    Sam Adams Light
    St. Pauli Girl
    Ithaca Apricot Wheat
    Ithaca Casazilla
    Corona Extra
    Corona Light

  2. Sue Says:

    Well where else is there to go really go when your at the four corners? There’s the Clarence Center Coffee Company and Cafe, a tea place, Lucy’s Country Kitchen under some other name and Pizza Inn, if you want to walk. How is theClarence Center Coffee Company and Cafe great? I’ve been there once for a drink and a hard saran-wrapped cookie. It was so small and loud with the low ceilings that I had to go outside and stand in the snow to talk to someone. Drinking room-temperature water while conversing with someone in a public bathroom wouldn’t have been as aggravating.

    I wouldn’t go there again, in-fact it wasn’t my idea to go the first time.

  3. Paulene Eliopoulos Says:

    Thanks for that. My son has a total aversion to eating fruit for some reason, so I make the fruit into smoothies for him and then he can’t get enough of it! I also found some great smoothie recipe here and thought I’d share – lots of other great ideas there.

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