Taste of Buffalo newcomers: Laughlin’s
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • June 27, 2011 @ 11:21am
Reasons vary for entering the Taste of Buffalo—for some restaurants, it’s tradition, the opportunity to feature new dishes or a prime chance to advertise. For Laughlin’s, housed at the corner of West Tupper and Franklin, the proximity makes sense.
“We’re so close to [the Taste of Buffalo],” Laughlin’s General Manager Jodie Kersten said, “and there’s such a great volume [of people] that we need to be there.” 2011 will mark Laughlin’s first year at the event.
With a few unique options like chicken pot pie soup and a cajun grouper sandwich, it’s a tad surprising that Laughlin’s would feature chicken fingers, hog wings and grilled cajun shrimp at the July 9 and 10 food lover’s bonanza.
On deciding why these traditional items would be served, Kersten explained, “We honestly went by customer feedback. A lot of restaurants go by which dishes are easiest to prepare, but we wanted to go by what our customers like.”
Here’s the breakdown of Laughlin’s ToB samples:
Chicken fingers (8 and 4 tickets): they’re hand-cut, hand-breaded and made fresh to order—no freezing involved. I found a good contrast between the crunchy outside and the tender, white meat inside. The breading is exceptional, but not surprisingly, Kersten wouldn’t share the details that makes the fingers special. They’re thick, too—nothing at all like your lanky store-bought fingers—and waitress Nicole mentioned that few people can finish an entire order in one sitting (please note that the photos are of the kids’ fingers version—I had to try a bunch of entrees in one sitting). There’s not a ton of flavor without sauce, but that’s where the Mombo option comes in.
While hot sauce and bleu cheese are available, the Mombo is a house specialty, a spicy barbecue sauce with sesame seeds. It’s hard to create a sauce with plenty of kick that doesn’t bury the flavor, but Laughlin’s succeeded.
Hog wings (8 tickets): Made of pork, these giant drumsticks literally fall off the bone; I wound up needing a fork (not just because I’m a notoriously messy eater). The hog wings aren’t listed on Laughlin’s regular menu yet, but they’re offered as a special and have been “selling like hotcakes,” Kersten admits. When Laughlin’s new menu drops in early July, hog wings will be a staple. They’ll also be available with Mombo sauce at the Taste of Buffalo, if you crave additional flavor.
Healthy cajun grilled shrimp (8 tickets): Seafood and spices lend boatloads of flavor without the grease and fat, so Kersten went with the cajun grilled shrimp, a dish that dazzles taste buds without demanding sauce (though it’s served with cocktail sauce at the restaurant). The restaurant mixes its own cajun seasoning, and the secrets won’t be divulged. Too bad!