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Beef on Weck – Western New York (Sandwich Week)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 11, 2017

Beef on Weck is a popular sandwich in western New York including Buffalo and Rochester where Weck is considered an institution. The only major foray out of the state was during the origins of Buffalo Wild Wings which was initially called BW-3 when it started in Columbus (Ohio). The three W’s were wild wings & weck. Since most people did not know what Weck was and because it is a labor intensive sandwich to make, well… the third W quickly disappeared from the line up.

A bit of background before we go into the meat of this matteer. Weck is occasionally known as wick. It consists of thinly sliced roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The top of the bun is soaked in the au from the roast beef and sprinkled with coarse kosher slat and caraway seeds. A hearty helping of horseradish os par for the course as well.

The kummelweck roll (sometimes spelled “kimmelweck” or “kümmelweck”) gets it’s name from Kümmel a German word for caraway and weck or wecken which is a “roll” common in south-western Germany. The weck of New York is a bot different that what you would find in Germany or Austria, it tends to be softer. The origins of this sandwich are as hazy of the au ju that makes it an exceptional sandwich. We know it started in Buffalo. It may have been invented by a German baker named William Wahr. Legend has it, which is easy to believe, that a local bar owner felt the salty sandwich would encourage more bar business. Having consumed a few of these sandwiches myself, I can say, they pair exceptionally well with a cold lager.

The best Beef on Weck I ever had was not at a restaurant by made by my friend Cliff Sawicki. A native of the Buffalo area, he made enough beef on wecks to feed 20 people for move in day at my first house back in 2002. I’m certain I ate enough to account for 10 of 20 person servings in the 3 hours it took to complete the move. As an expert on the region and the sandwich, I asked Cliff to chime on on his favorite haunts and he did indeed deliver as you can read below.

Brunner’s Tavern
3989 Main Street
Amherst, NY
(716) 836-9718

This has been an Amherst tradition for a couple generations now. They serve a decent fish fry on Fridays and the kitchen is open for lunch and early dinner during the week. My favorite time to go is Saturday afternoon, the kitchen is closed, but the grill behind the bar is open. There are two things to get: the Steak Sandwich or the Roast Beef on Weck. Order the Steak Sandwich and the barkeep will throw a big chuck of beef on the grill, cook it to your liking, and then throw on some cheese, peppers and onions. For good measure, the sandwich is cut in half and served with wedge ridged potato chips and a pickle. MMM! Order the Roast Beef on Weck and watch the barkeep carve off slices from a fresh slab brought in just before opening. For good measure, some juice is ladled on the roll, the sandwich is cut in half, served with wedge ridged potato chips, pickle, and a jar of real horseradish on the side. If you want the Roast Beef get there early, they sometimes run out as soon as 12:30PM (although I understand they have been bringing in a second slab recently). Brunner’s is next to Ziggy’s.

Jolly Jug
797 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Buffalo, NY
(716) 836-9552

I would give directions, but if you can read this, you are not drunk enough to believe the time warp, and thus won’t want to go. This is really a bar that also happens to serve a decent Roast Beef on Weck and Chili until 4:00AM. This was probably a hopping little neighborhood bar forty years ago, until the great super glue incident happened. Now, six or seven sixty-year old men have their elbows permanently affixed to the bar. All of these men are drinking Genesee Cream Ale. I have never heard of any performer listed in the juke box.

I usually drag a couple unknowing friends down to the Jug around 3:30AM, go to the bar, order six Old Viennas, three Beefs, and three bowls of Chili. I then get some quarters, play the juke box and rack up a pool game. The barkeep is traditionally friendly, I expect because he actually gets to speak to someone who is alive. Everybody seems to enjoy the experience as it unfolds, but nobody has ever gone back with me. Oh, well, (they can go pound on the windows at Ziggy’s).

My guess is theremay only be 1000 people that know about this place, 500 people that have been inside, 250 people that would admit they have been inside, and 100
people who have thought to eat there….I only knew because an alcoholic
took me there.

In no particular order…

Schwabl’s – Really good, I’ve only had the Beef on weck…I’d like to try
some of the other stuff on the menu…old restaurant…old school. (CMH Gourmand Note; Schwabl’s is often noted to have the quintessential Beef on Weck).

Bar Bill – The rave in the very small village of East Aurora…it’s a 30-40
minute drive from the mainland, a very good sandwich, but if you need a fix
there are equally good sandwiches with a shorter drive…the only reason I
had ever been there was because my grandparents lived out there.

Swiston’s – Been there a few times…. consistency isn’t always there. Their best efforts top the charts, but I’ve had an occasional average sandwichthere…one recent complaint someone told me about was too much fat on thesandwich…I’m torn about that comment.

Anderson’s – Original location on Sheridan Drive has expanded into I believe locations in WNY. Still a decent quality sandwich, but would only be myfirst choice if I was going to top it off with some of Anderson’s frozen

Anacone Inn – I haven’t been here in some 15 years, the neighborhood hasgone way downhill, I’d like to give this one a shot again, but I would want to bring a posse along. BTW, they had a really good sandwich.

Charlie the Butcher – Strangely, this is probably one of the most talked about Beef on Weckers, but I hadn’t tried it until this past summer…I wasnot impressed…Beef was a bit dry and not piled on very high….will probably try one more time just to confirm an unsupervised rookie didn’t make my sandwich.

One Response to “Beef on Weck – Western New York (Sandwich Week)”

  1. Cindy Leland said

    … and now I am hungry again… this time at night. Making an emergency quesadilla, though it will not really comfort.

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