Our quest for great taverns and pubs in Buffalo continues. This time, we’re taking you to Kaisertown, a place that you might not be familiar with unless you live there. If you do live there, then you probably reside in a quaint cottage home, on a side street off Clinton Street. If you’re visiting for a few hours, then you will notice all of the tight-knit communities, bounding a commercial thoroughfare that is lined with old churches, neighborhood bars and taverns, and an occasional bowling alley or bake shop.
It might be hard to tell what’s open on Clinton Street at any given time. Over the years, Kaisertown has suffered from loss of industry, but at the same time there is an immense pride for what remains. Just look at the American flags that hang from the street lamp standards. They wave proudly, in a neighborhood that still manages to bleed the colors of the red, white and blue.
One of the Kaistertown’s best known restaurants sits in the heart of Clinton Street. It’s called Wiechec’s Lounge. Wiechec’s (pronounced weechecks) is about as old school Buffalo as it gets. I can imagine 50 years ago, when it first opened, blue collar workers walking in, ordering a couple of Genny beers and a roast turkey sandwich, before heading back to work. That’s why, earlier today, I ordered exactly that. I wanted to have a meal that represented the tavern in all of its glory. My wife ordered the beer battered chicken sandwich, because she heard that it was a crowd favorite. The only suprise was that there were no Polish beers available – but then again, that’s not a workin’ man’s beer.
From the outside, Wiechec’s doesn’t look like much. But that’s part of the charm and appeal. On the inside, the place looks pretty darn tavern-ish, with a room in the back that looks like a cafeteria. For a hot minute we thought about eating in the cafeteria-style back room – after all, it’s not often that you get to dine in a throwback atmosphere such as this. But we opted to sit at the bar instead. We were handed a couple of hand written menus, which in of itself was rather charming. Since the menu is constantly changing, someone is constantly writing.
In front of us were three flatscreens. The one in the middle was showing The Cooking Channel, while the ones flanking had football on, with sound. There were about seven people in the bar eating, and a few people were seated in the back room. It was easy to tell that most everyone there was a regular. The woman standing next to us commented on our food order when we placed it. She said that we were in for a real treat – then she picked up her to-go order and took off. My wife mentioned that the phone was constantly ringing, and the staff was busy taking to-go orders. Apparently the soup-to-go is a big deal…. everyone was ordering the various soups.
We soon learned why the soup was a big deal. It was delicious. After being delivered a mere minute after ordering, I was slurping my cup of New England clam chowder and my wife was happily devouring her cup of chicken noodle. Neither of the soups needed salt or pepper – both were seasoned perfectly. Honestly, my chowder was one of the best that I ever had. My wife told me that she knew I loved it because I never reached for the crackers. Her cup was loaded with noodles – both soups were super filling.
I don’t know why I even ordered a soup. When my meal arrived, four minutes after ordering, I couldn’t believe how big it was. My turkey sandwich was served hot, smothered with countryside gravy, a heaping pile of stuffing, and a small tub of cranberry. The turkey was moist and juicy, and the stuffing was smoky and delicious. Even the cranberry, which I normally pass up, was good.
As I ate my food, I could tell that my wife was eyeing my meal. So I pushed my plate towards her, and she dug in. While her beer battered chicken sandwich was excellent in its own right, nothing could compare to the turkey sandwich, which was a feast of magnanimous proportions. To put it simply, I was in heaven, and my wife was a tad jealous.
At the same time, she was happy with her beer battered chicken – neither one of us had ever heard of that before (it’s typically fish). The chicken was moist and the batter was crispy… she added some slaw to it, and some hot sauce. Her only complaint was that it would have been righteous with some melted cheese. As for the slaw, it was just vinegary enough to cut the sweetness.
After we finished our meals, we sat at the bar in a collective food coma for about an half hour. Then, when we were finally able to, we peeled ourselves off the bar stools and headed out the door. As we walked down the street, passing by all of the American flags and poking our heads into various business, we commented on how happy we were, once again, with Buffalo’s stockpile of oldie but goodie restaurants and taverns. Pretty soon we’re going to run out of days of the week/month/year to make return trips to all of our new/old favorites.
The next time that you’re in the mood for some real home cooked meals, served up in a jiffy, without breaking the bank, just get yourself over to Wiechec’s. There’s something to be said for a restaurant that caters to the working man or woman, and anyone else that happens to be passing through their doors in search of finger licking good meals.
Wiechec’s Lounge | 1748 Clinton Street | Buffalo, NY 14206-3151 | (716) 823-2828 | Facebook