French Fridays: Wiechec’s Lounge
blog by BuffaloDotCom • June 20, 2011 @ 3:33pm
Thanks to our French Fridays contest, our friendly audience recommended several joints cherished for their french fries. While Blue Monk and Papa Jake’s weren’t unexpected, dark horses like Wiechec’s Lounge and North (basement of Lenox Hotel) caught us off-guard. Since we have a lot of respect for Luke Mazur (@lumazur on Twitter), who “hands-down” suggested Wiechec’s, we picked the surprisingly spacious lounge on Clinton as our next french fry destination.
Known best for winning Buffalo Spree’s “Best Fish Fry”—the portions are reportedly massive—Wiechec’s french fries were solid in both variety and quality. We chose all three types to sample: regular cut fries, seasoned curly fries and hot fries. The portions were generous for $1.99 apiece, and S.J., Humam and Ben T. were intrigued by the hot fries, which were served with a choice of ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
The hot fries were unanimously voted best—unlike the other two, the hot version was waffle cut and seasoned with dry rub for the heat. While noticeable, the heat wasn’t overwhelming and would be nicely complemented by a Dos Equis or Great Lakes beer on tap. The decision between bleu cheese and ranch is up to personal taste, but bleu cheese offers local flair and is the more popular choice. Like the Smitty’s-style chicken wings in South Buffalo, we stumbled upon a local gem in Wiechec’s hot fries.
The seasoned curly fries, our second favorite, had a pleasant crunchy coating and made the group wax nostalgic about carnivals, except for Ben T., who doesn’t enjoy carnivals because of awkward clowns and gaggles of noisy small children. Don’t ask.
The regular fries finished last, even though they’re the most frequently ordered. Customers can select a dish of gravy on the side or choose to have gravy poured over top for stronger flavor. While they weren’t exceptional on their own, the regular fries would make a nice addition to the signature fish fry.
Speaking with Matty, a bartender by title but clearly more versatile, we learned about the origin of Wiechec’s french fries. Purchased locally in bags from Willowbrook Farms (across from Clinton Bailey Farmer’s Market) or Schneider’s (Old Union Rd. in Cheektowaga), the pre-cut fries can be prepared quickly.
Matty explained how time-consuming the process would be for Wiechec’s to cut its own potatoes—adding a separate bin, rinsing the potatoes, slicing, soaking in cold water, cooking for a short time and draining would take too long when the quality of local bagged french fries is near the equivalent. A fairly convincing argument, we’d say, especially considering the amount of fries the restaurant churns out.
Wiechec’s (1748 Clinton Street) is open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for meals, while the bar remains open until 10 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.