Saturday, October 16, 2010

What the Heck is Kummelweck?

From the German words, “Kummel” meaning “Caraway” and “Weck” meaning “Roll” it’s essentially a Kaiser with a salt and caraway seed topping. It’s most famous as one component of Western New York’s “Beef on Weck.”
Some folks, such as Charlie the Butcher claim that Beef on Weck was invented in the 1880's by an unknown German immigrant. Possibly William Wahr who is credited with inventing the Kummelweck in Buffalo. 
Another claim is it was invented at Buffalo’s Delaware House tavern in 1901. In anticipation of the 1901 Pan Am Exposition, Joe Gohn opened a tavern across the street from one of the expo’s main entrances and offered a twist on the French dip sandwich. Hoping the salty top would promote more drinking.   
One thing is for sure, the Beef on Weck is as ubiquitous on the Niagara Frontier as the Buffalo Chicken Wing. Slow roasted beef is hand sliced thin and served on Kummelweck. The top of the bun is dipped in the au jus and garnished with horseradish.

In 1914 future Buffalo mayor Charles E. Roesch (I) opened a butcher shop in the Broadway Market. Fresh meat and poultry would build the business. Charles (II) would take over the Charles E. Roesch and Company eventually.

In 1980, Charles (III), or “Charlie the Butcher”, outfitted with his signature hard hat took control of the shop. From a quiet chemist starting work in the family business in the early '70's Charlie has transformed himself into a local icon and his business into a small empire. Charlie the Butcher's Kitchen would open in 1993 joining Catering and "Express" locations. Local and national television appearances on shows such as Good Morning America and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee have led Charlie to be knows as Buffalo's unofficial "Food Ambassador."

That's Charlie with the hard hat
Hamburgers and other fine fare such as pulled pork or turkey sandwiches as well as malteds, shakes and loganberry drinks fill out the menu. It’s the beef on weck that draws ‘em in though. “No one slices like Charlie the Butcher” he claims and it’s hard to argue. The beef was beautifully sliced thin. They also serve Western New York's own Sahlen's hot dogs.

Hand carving roast beef
So enough with the back story, now on with the food.
Of course we had the beef on weck. Hand carved right at the ordering counter this sandwich could probably have used a little more jus and I would like the horse radish to have had a little more kick. Those are only mild complaints though. The beef was tender, juicy and incredibly tasty. The sandwich, as advertized struggled to maintain structural integrity which is exactly how it should be. I’d probably ask for extra jus in the future and even though I added a good dollop of horse radish from the dish on the table I’d add more.

It came with it’s usual accompaniment of a pickle spear which was fantastic. Fries are a normal side (or German potato salad) however we opted for BBQ seasoned potato wedges. They were okay.

Being a burger lover I needed to try Charlie’s. Ground fresh daily the 1/3lb burger came cooked medium and was very juicy and flat out tasty. 

The big surprise was the grilled bologna. A 1/4” slice of bologna, grilled and topped with sautéed peppers and onions and a slice of cheese. Served on a kaiser it was fantastic.

You can find Charlie the Butcher’s Kitchen at 1065 Wehrle Drive in Williamsville, New York. 

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Find their other outlets by visiting their website.
Can’t make it to Buffalo? Make your own at home. Charlie shares his secrets here.
Charlie the Butcher's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all from the foodcourt for today. Hope to see ya soon.


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