Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Michael Stern
Only in Buffalo
When people think of dishes that belong to Buffalo, New York, they mostly think of chicken wings. They got popular here and have since spread across the country and the world. You will not find the city’s other mealtime passion, beef on weck, anywhere else. Why not? First of all, the buns require serious baking skills. They don’t keep for any length of time. More important, cooking and carving beef on weck in Buffalo requires a level of expertise that can’t be learned overnight.
What Makes Beef On Weck So Great?
To understand the appeal of this sandwich, visit a tavern in West Seneca called Schwabl’s. Here you find hard rolls heavily crusted with coarse grains of salt and caraway seeds (a.k.a. kummelweck. The rolls sport fluffy insides, but they’re rugged enough to hold up well when sliced in half and dipped in natural beef gravy. Schwabl’s beef defines greatness. When you order a sandwich — and only then — does a carver slice pieces from a center-cut round roast. He piles the beef high inside each sandwich: a tender and luxurious pillow of protein. Add a dab of horseradish if you wish, but other condiments make no sense whatsoever. Traditionalists get their beef on weck on a plate with warm German potato salad, house made pickled beets, and cole slaw.
A Full Menu
Pilgrims come to this cozy, family-friendly place primarily to eat Buffalo beef on weck. Frankly, we like the beef so much that we always have a hard time going beyond it to explore other items on the menu. Here you find salads, Saturday-only Hungarian goulash, and a unique version of Quebecoise poutine, sprinkled with caraway seeds. Regulars tell us that the seafood is terrific (haddock in particular). And we do love hand-carved hot ham that comes in a pool of tomato-clove gravy. Ham could tempt one away from beef, even if it has none of the famous local sandwich’s authority,
Schwabl’s is a casual, well-aged tavern. Business people make it their home at lunch. You’ll see more families at diner. A full bar provides cocktails. Regional-flavor connoisseurs drink draughts of non-alcoholic birch beer with the faint twang of spearmint.
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What do you think of Schwabl’s?
2 Responses to “Schwabl’s”
April 2nd, 2011
My traveling companion had heard about Schwabl’s from a Food Network show. She and her husband went and loved it. So when we planned our road trip to Buffalo for shopping and eating (not necessarily in that order), Schwabl’s was at the top of our list. However, we decided to wait until our last lunch to try it. It was definitely worth the wait and worth the visit. A lady in the Eden Kazoo Museum told us it was the only place her family would go for roast beef, and I can understand why!
We were warmly welcomed upon entering the restaurant, which set the tone for our visit. Having had enough salt and bread in previous days, I went with the roast beef on bread special, and it was immense! Had the pickled beets and the German potato palad with it; good decision. My friend had the beef on weck, and was really impressed with the kimmelweck bun: there was enough salt and caraway seeds, the outside was crispy but the bun was soft and delicious. She was really happy with the sandwich.
There was a good inch-plus of thinly sliced beef on the bread. It was more well-done by the time we got there, and I would normally have ordered it rarer. However, it was so moist and tender and delicious that it didn’t matter. The gravy was so amazing: pure, rich beef flavor. It almost didn’t need the horseradish (which I did find to be on the hot side).
The German potato salad was amazing, tangy but not too sharp, with one taste treat after another. The bacon was present, but not overpowering. I had been told that it was worth the trip in itself, and I agree. Wonderful! I love pickled beets and Schwabl’s were tart without being too strong or too sweet. Exactly the way I like them.
I have highly recommended Schwabl’s to friends and family, and even to the border crossing guard when we came back into Ontario! Worth the drive, but make sure you are hungry. You wouldn’t want to miss a bite.
March 18th, 2006
We have been visiting Buffalo for many years and from our first visit, we set out to try local unique places. Having read about Schwabl’s in one of the early editions of Roadfood, we dropped in – and have been dropping in ever since. We couldn’t possibly tell you how much we love this place!
The beef on weck is fabulous – tender beef as you like it (we love watching “the carver” in action on that huge roast) served on a very fresh weck bun (a real Buffalo tradition – a kaiser imbedded with sea salt). The Hungarian goulash, with real dumplings, are outstanding, and the fish dishes are beautifully cooked. The Michelob’s ice cold, and Nick’s “special” gin martini is the best in all our travels (really!).
But all of those wonderful things can’t hold a candle to the staff. For years, we always asked for the gal who had been our first waitress, Judy. We were very saddened when we heard last year that she had passed away and we will miss her bubbly personality very much when we go again. Whenever we showed up on a night that Judy wasn’t on, we were usually served by Cheryl, another sweetie. Today we were very happy to read that Cheryl and her husband, Gene (one of those fantastic carvers!) have bought the place from the Schwabl family. Best of luck to you both – it couldn’t happen to two nicer people and we know that you will, as you say, continue to carry on the great Schwabl’s tradition.
So, folks, if you want to be greeted like old friends every time you return, and you want a fantastic meal in a charming, relaxed setting, make your way to Schwabl’s in West Seneca (Buffalo). We guarantee you will be well-fed, well-treated, and well on your way to becoming Schwabl’s regulars!