789 Center Rd.
West Seneca, NY
You’ve got to love any food item that’s invented solely to make you want to drink more beer.
I guess that’s why I was so excited to try Schwabl’s world famous “Beef on Weck”.
According to Buffalo, NY mythology, this unique roast beef sandwich was invented by enterprising bartenders in this blue collar city who wanted to encourage their patrons to drink more beer.
Now that’s a stimulus package even I will support!
Fortunately my weekend started early at 11am on a Friday morning.
Despite the hour, I felt it was my duty to order a locally brewed Flying Bison Aviator Red to accompany my “Beef on Weck”.
A sweet, malty brew with a dark red color, my Flying Bison went down easily – just like it should.
Schwabl’s is considered one of the oldest restaurants in America, dating back to 1837.
Of course, it’s changed locations many times, but it’s current location in West Seneca dates back to the 1940s.
It stayed in the Schwabl family for most of the last 185 years, until a couple of long-time employees bought it a few years ago.
But it doesn’t look like much has changed.
The atmosphere is definitely old school.
Stepping through the creaky screen door is like stepping back in time.
An old-timey cash register, leatherbound menus, and old men sipping martinis and cracking jokes set the mood.
Waitresses dressed in all white uniforms look like nurses from a 1950s soap opera. They know every customer by name.
But anyone coming to Schwabl’s for the first time, like myself, doesn’t bother with the menu. They order the specialty of the house – a “Beef on Weck” with German potato salad.
The bartender – also dressed in a white apron and tie – opened up the beef steamer right behind the bar and meticulously carved off several slices of roast beef and neatly piled them onto a half of a kummelweck loaf – a bread made here in Buffalo specifically for this sandwich.
The powerful punch of salt and caraway seeds on the big, yeasty bun definitely makes you thirsty.
But, sadly, I just wasn’t impressed.
Maybe the “Beef on Weck” is a little TOO old school for me.
I mean this sandwich could use a serious bout of modern creativity. Some sautéed onions maybe. Or melted cheese. Or greens. Or spicy homemade mayo.
It needed something.
As it was, my “Beef on Weck” was just dry roast beef on salty bread.
Pinker, juicier meat might have elevated this sandwich to a higher rating.
The only condiment provided was a little ramekin of horseradish.
A little of that goes a long way. It only conspired with the salt and caraway seeds on the bun to make me drink my Flying Bison even quicker.
Those clever bartenders.
The coleslaw and pickled beet on the side were also saturated in salty vinegar. Not really my thing.
The highlight of the meal (besides the Flying Bison that is) was the German potato salad.
Garnished with bacon bits, celery, and other fun, tasty ingredients, the potato side dish was served warm, as is customary with the Old World version of potato salad.
So the potato salad and beer was good.
The rest of my $22 lunch (including tip and tax), not so much.
I guess I just don’t get it.
You don’t need to feed me tasteless roast beef on a salty bun to get me to drink more beer.
Drinking more beer never needs a reason.
Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt if You Paid Me.