A couple of years back, my wife and I went to Hoak’s on the Lakeshore, just outside Buffalo, where we first discovered their amazing fish fry. Since that time, the restaurant has been a reliable go-to, anytime that we have craved a fish fry on the shores of Lake Erie.
Recently, Hoak’s went through a major renovation to its bar area. The third generation owners, initiated by Kevin Hoak, decided that it was time to strike, while the iron was hot. Without closing their doors, Hoak’s underwent an awesome renovation process. The outcome is nothing short of remarkable. While the main dining area didn’t change, the bar area was supersized substantially. It went from a cozy nook, seating only a handful of people, to a larger than life barroom, able to accommodate large parties of people.
Not only that, the second floor, above the bar (formerly used for storage), has also been transitioned into an operational banquet room, complete with a full service bar. A lofty staircase connects the two, creating a vibrant ope space that looks out over the lake – perfect for viewing on a sunny day, or when a storm rolls in. Apparently, a new breakwall is scheduled to be installed at some point, which will help to alleviate the giant waves that splash up onto the restaurant deck. That is one of the reasons the owners felt that it was time to make an investment of this nature.
Due to the unveiling of the new barroom, my wife and I decided to eat at the bar this past Labor Day. Everyone else opted to eat in the dining room, and out on the deck. But we just had to take advantage of the new bar layout. Plus, a friend of ours had recently been hired as a waitress, so we were happy to chat with her as she waited for her customers’ drinks to be poured.
Not deviating from our usual plan of attack, we both ordered the fish fry. I must say that just when we thought that this meal couldn’t get any better… it did. This was the best fish fry we had ever had in Buffalo. The haddock was so tender and flaky, and the batter was simply there as an accent, not a staple of the dish. It was so light – the fish literally flaked apart, which is usually not the case with a typical dense fish fry. A little squeeze of lemon was all that it needed to be a real winner. Plus, the coleslaw and the potato salad were no joke – not overly sweet, yet plenty of flavor. The potatoes were not big and chunky – rather they appeared to be finely diced and shredded. Each bite was pure bliss.
Hoak’s is a Buffalo institution. Now it’s got to be considered a Buffalo icon. While the bar was once considered nice and chill, it has been taken to an entirely different level. And the second floor dining area is clutch for family parties and events.
There’s also plenty of parking, which came at a great cost apparently. On the way out of the restaurant, I came across a plaque that blew my mind. Featured in the photo was the Alhambra Dine-Dance, which I never knew existed. I can only imagine the dance parties that went on at this place!
- Hits: Fish fry and expanded bar
- Misses: Styrofoam containers and plastic straws
Hoak’s on the Lakeshore | 4100 Lake Shore Road | Hamburg, NY | (716) 627-4570 | Facebook