In mid October of 2006, Lake Effect Storm Aphid slammed into Buffalo, New York. The storm dumped over a foot of snow in the city and as much as two feet in higher elevations just outside to the south/east and left over one million people without power. While unusually early, this is only par for the course in western New York.
Lake Effect Snow Storms are a result of a large pocket of Arctic air moving over a warm body of water. With machine like efficiency they suck warm moist air up, condense it and then dump it when it hits land. The higher the elevation, the more severe. These events most often occur in the Great Lakes region of North America and due to their size and geographic location, where this machine does it’s best work. While the area on the leeward side of Lake Ontario between Watertown and Syracuse is known as the “Snow Capital of the East” perhaps no other city in North America is more famous for it’s snow than Buffalo. It’s location at the eastern end of Lake Erie puts it right in the path of these monsters.
It is this type of weather that shapes to fine folks of western New York. They don’t just accept it, they embrace it. Late season NFL games and even the NHL’s inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 are played in the snow. It’s so much a way of life they’ve even named a diner after this weather phenomenon, The Lake Effect Diner. Located just inland from Lake Erie in Buffalo it is a tribute to both the diner and old school restauranteering.
In 2001 Tucker and Erin Curtin went looking for a diner. They wound up in Wayne, Pennsylvania and rescued a vintage early ‘50’s Mountainview Diner (Vin #446) from the wrecking ball. Relocated to Main Street in Buffalo it was fully restored and returned to its former glory.
As for the menu, the commitment from the Curtin family takes a back seat to no one. Oranges are fresh squeezed for juice to order. Beef is corned and hams are smoked and cured in house. They grind their own beef and make their own sausage. This old school way of running a restaurant is married with diner classics like meatloaf, burgers, club sandwiches and of course, breakfast. They’ve also added their own touches to the menu such as pulled pork, chicken souvlaki and grilled pitas. I really like how they offer their fish. A haddock filet comes with your choice of preparation. Italian, lemon buttered, Budweiser battered or Cajun. A similar multiple choice is offered of their club sandwiches. Tuna, smoked turkey, corned beef, roast beef or smoked ham. I’d like to see more places offer this.
This type of dedication to all things tasty has garnered the Lake Effect Diner the ultimate seal of approval. A visit from Guy Fieri and the Triple D crew in 2009. Loved locally the spot on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives has put them on the culinary map.
So on to the food.
We started with a plate of Chili Cheese Fries. The fries are hand cut in house and served under a blanket of chili and cheese and topped with onion and a dollop of sour cream. The fries had good potato flavour but I’d order them well done next time. I like a little more crunch on the outside. The inside had that nice fluffy potato texture though. The chili was outstanding. Not spicy, very tomatoey and well seasoned. The cheddar, onion and sour cream complimented it perfectly. It’s enough for a meal in its self. Mrs. Sippi opted for the Beef on Weck. While not as good as Charlie’s it was still great. I prefered this bun and the horse radish had more jump to it. The jus served on the side was better and it compromised the integrity of the bun as she ate it. Just like it should.
I went with the BBQ Meatloaf Bomber. The house meatloaf on a hoagie with caramelized onions, aged cheddar and home made BBQ sauce. It was simply great. The meatloaf has a terrific taste and the BBQ sauce and onions bumped it up a few more notches. I took half of it home and it was still great the next day.
We shared a side of Griddled Mac and Cheese. A creamy mac and cheese that they put on the flat top. It was really nice but I didn’t care for the griddling part. The toasted cheese overpowered the rest of the dish I though. Mrs. Sippi concurred.
She went for a Vanilla Malt and I had the PB&J Shake. The malt was really nice and something we don’t see much. It was a clear runner up to the shake though. It was liquid peanut butter and (strawberry) jelly sucked through a straw. She drank almost as much as I did and summed it up in one word, “Insane.” We blew through it so fast I had to order another shake. This time it was a banana split. It was good but not in the same weight class.
So for some terrific diner food and experience, visit Lake Effect Diner at 3165 Main St. in Buffalo, New York.
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You also visit them on the web.
Well that’s all for now. See you next time in the food court.