Friday, October 10, 2008

In Praise of Wiechec's Lounge

Tim and I have been visiting Buffalo, New York every few years to visit Tim's Grandma Helen and other relatives. Since our first trip in 2000, we routinely schedule one night to have dinner at Wiechec's Lounge, a neighborhood tavern owned by Grandma Helen's brother Hank and operated by two of her nephews. Although this time we were in town for Grandma Helen's funeral, I'm sure she would have been disappointed if we didn't make it to Wiechec's during this trip.

Wiechec's Lounge, Buffalo, NY. (10/09/2008)
Wiechec's Lounge, Buffalo, NY. (10/09/2008)

It was no problem for me, because I love the place. Not fancy by any means, Wiechec's is the kind of place where you can still get hot wings on Monday nights for the eat-in special price of 35 cents a piece (where else can you get a dozen wings for $4.20). It's a place that still does the Friday night fish fry, a popular dinner event in the Northeast, particularly in cities with large Polish/Catholic populations.

Entering the doors, you have no idea what decade you're in. The interior has elements from seemingly every decade from the last 50 years. Imagine dark-paneled walls and red vinyl booths. Two large, corner-mounted TVs (not widescreen). Banquet tables and chairs in the back dining room. Add a few neon beer signs throughout, and you pretty much get the picture.

Wings and a Genee Beer. (10/09/2008)
Wings and a Genee Beer. (10/09/2008)

Wiechec's is really a celebration of all things Buffalo. It simply oozes the very character of the Rust Belt. It's unpretentious, and teaming with honest, working class folks who simply want good food and drink at decent prices while watching the ball game.

At Wiechec's, they serve coffee, not lattes. Beer, not microbrews. Fish and chips, not panko-encrusted sea bass with taro chips. And they would probably laugh you out the door if you asked if their cooking oil is trans fat free.

Tim's extended family at Wiechec's. (01/28/2000)
Tim's extended family at Wiechec's. (01/28/2000)

Inside its storied walls, you can feel the very history of Buffalo. It summarizes everything from the city's economic prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s, to the economic downturns of subsequent decades after the demise of the steel mills. You can practically imagine the patrons' glee when the Buffalo Bills made it to the Super Bowl four times in the early 1990s, as well as the eventual heartbreak when the Bills lost each of those games.

Most of the time, when people go to Buffalo, they check out the Anchor Bar, which has the distinction of being the inventor of Buffalo Wings (by the way, nobody calls them "Buffalo Wings" in Buffalo ... it's just "Wings.") From what I understand, however, the only people who go to the Anchor Bar are tourists. If you want to find real locals, you'll find them at Wiechec's.

My favorite is Wiechec's pierogi's. (01/28/2000)
My favorite is Wiechec's pierogi's. (01/28/2000)

I've sampled quite a bit of their food over the years. And although the wings and fried fish are fantastic, my favorite are their pierogis, semi-circular pasta dumplings filled with things like potatoes and cabbage. I remember Grandma Helen saying that the pierogi plate has three pierogis. "Just three?" I asked. Well I changed my tune when I saw how big these pierogis were!

After Grandma Helen's interment, a gaggle of Tim's relatives headed to Wiechec's for lunch before our flight home. They weren't doing pierogis at that time, but I did order some wings, which I accompanied with a Genee Beer (Grandma Helen's favorite beer). I hope that brought a smile to her face in heaven.

The fish fry at Wiechec's is amazing. (01/28/2000)
The fish fry at Wiechec's is amazing. (01/28/2000)

Wiechec's Lounge is located at 1748 Clinton St, Buffalo, NY 14206. (716) 823-2828.



Wiechec's Lounge on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

James ,
I enjoyed your posting! Very nice article! I do mean the exclamation marks. Unfortunately, with Gr Helen's passing the reasons for visiting have been diminished. I have printed this article and will be sending copies to Uncle Hank and others who are not using the net.

Grumpy

Anonymous said...

James, thanks for the blog on Wiechec's. Someday I'll have to get to the east coast to see it myself.
Rori

Anonymous said...

James...
I always love reading/hearing about Wiechec's. Though I have never been, I do wish to go someday. Grandma Helen's brother Matthew is my Grandfather so I have always been interested in this place my mother(Michele) has so many memories of... Thanks for sharing yours;)

Katie

beastandbean said...

Wow, that place sounds amazing! The wings, the fish fry...I think I'd have to order it all!

And the way you wrote about Tim's Grandma Helen was very sweet. I'm sure she loved the Genee beer tribute. Heck, I know I would!! :)

Mike Binis(zkiewicz) said...

Wow! Looks and sounds just like I remember. I moved to New Zealand 20 years ago, and I miss their beef on 'weck! I grew up with their fish fry every friday, and other days as a kid thier beef on plain white bread with fries all drowning in the best gravy I've ever had. Of all the things I miss about Buffalo, Wiechec's is at the top.