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Worth repeating Encore will make you want to return again and again

When I first heard about Encore it was introduced to me as "The old Hemingways." Two thoughts popped into my head: 1) Where is Hemingways? and 2) What's so special about another bar downtown?

It was starting to seem like being in your mid-20s in Buffalo put you in a weird nightlife stage. The Chippewa crowd seems to be getting younger and younger to me, but I'm not quite ready to start hanging out at dinner clubs or spending my nights at home with boxed wine.

But Encore changed all that.

My first visit to the bar, located in the heart of the Theater District, was for a romantic dinner on a Wednesday night followed by a drink. Before I knew it the place was packed and everyone seemed to be heading for the patio. So we ventured out to see what all the fuss was about. There were people everywhere, an enormous wrap-around bar, a huge seating area, and a fantastic DJ mixing up some great dance music. My mood immediately went from let's have "a" drink to -- let's party.

The layout of Encore is fantastic. If you want privacy, there are great little booths inside to enjoy a meal or some one-on-one time with someone special. There's an upstairs for bigger parties and a spacious patio outside.

Encore has three bars plus a sushi bar. Stay inside if you're looking for a bit more peace and quiet, but for that downtown partylike atmosphere -- head outdoors. I've done both and had a great experience each time.

The deep hardwood floors, rustic brick walls, fireplaces, and "less is more" decor give the bar a charming and classy touch. Outside is just as alluring, with ivy hanging from the roof and garden-esque accents throughout the room. And unlike most patio bars, this one is actually fully stocked. So you don't have to run inside for special orders.

Encore draws in a very inviting and good-looking crowd, which makes it perfect for singles. On a few occasions I saw men and women eyeing each other up from across the room. But even with all these single beautiful people around I still felt comfortable showing up with a date. It even seemed to add to the romance.

We ended up running into a ton of friends, having a ball with the bartender and dancing the night away. On more than one occasion my guest and I both commented on how surprised we were that the bar was so crowded for a Wednesday night and wondered why we hadn't made the trip earlier.

The bar draws in a pretty good crowd throughout the week, especially on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Mondays and only open on Sundays for "show nights."

The night ended only because my feet hurt and I had to get up early in the morning, but there were plans for a rendezvous -- next week, same time, same place.

***

Encore

492 Pearl St.931-5001

Scene: A dapper, upscale mid-20s crowd.

Music: Dinner music inside, a live DJ or hip-hop on the patio.

Drinks: Martini and wine menu, full bar, a nice draft and bottled beer selection.

Dress Code: Polished for the boys and flirty for the girls.

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