Food Porn: Eckl’s Beef and Weck

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For my 25th birthday I wanted to go to a restaurant that I had never been to before (and that was also on my Food Odyssey List). For some reason or another I decided that one of Orchard Park’s oldest restaurants Eckl’s Beef & Weck would be my birthday meal.  Sure I might have preferred something more exotic but I figured with my Dad being in town, we would keep it basic.  Now I had just recently read about Eckl’s in another Buffalo food blog and they had mostly good things to say and some of my family and friends have also had positive experiences.  The outcome that we had was a meal that I wasn’t expecting and left me pretty unsatisfied.

photo-1Instead of bread, patrons recieve a veggie snack tray consisting of pickles, radishes, peppers, and baby corn.

We arrived after 7 pm for a late meal (it should be noted that Eckl’s doesn’t have lunch hours and open at 4pm Monday through Saturday and have shorted hours on Sundays).  We sat right down with no wait, and had a table seated right next to the Carving Station (see picture below).  Being seated so close to the bar and basically the front of the restaurant I was thinking that we should have some great service.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  Our waitress left us alone of long periods of time; we sat with our menus for about 10-15 minutes before having our orders taken.  Normally, average to below average service doesn’t bother me that much, but the restaurant wasn’t busy and we had a table that our server walked by over and over…it was very frustrating.  On top of that our waitress was, to put it mildly, unfriendly.

But on to the food:

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The carving station, and lots of Santas…

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lobster bisque

The one menu item that stuck out was their lobster bisque (which was a highlight of the past review I had read), and it lived up to the hype; it was fantastic.  The bisque was creamy (never grainy like other chowders/bisques I have tried in the past) and it was actually loaded with pieces of lobster (no skimping here).  Well worth ordering as an appetizer, I ordered myself a bowl and finished the whole thing.

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roast beef dinner

Alli and my Dad ordered Eckl’s more famous item on their menu (minus the weck roll), their hot roast beef sandwich; basically sliced roast beef (cooked to order) between slices of white or rye bread and then covered with gravy.  The beef was wonderful and tender, cooked to perfection and literally could have nothing bad said about it (which leads me to believe an actual beef on weck sandwhich would have also been fantastic).  The gravy, however, was lackluster, basically it tasted like something that was made in a can or from a powder.  I am sure some people love canned gravy, however, I’ve been raised on homemade gravy and theirs was extremely salty and extremely fake.  In addition, the mashed potatoes were terrible.  They were clearly not homemade and extremely watered down.  Maybe the chef was having a bad day or we just got a bad serving, but I have never had mashed potatoes that were that bad.

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sub-par fish fry

For myself, I had planned on eating some of their notorious Beef on Weck, but I was starving for a Fish Fry.  I will give Eckl’s the benefit of the doubt, when I ordered the Fish Fry I just assumed it was going to be beer battered, it wasn’t.  And it was extremely bland and dry.  There was no crunch, no crispyness, and above all just no flavor.  When it comes to Fish Fry’s in Buffalo, basically every restaurant is using the same fish, and the differences comes down to the preperation and frying techniques.  With Eckl’s I was just disappointed and completely didn’t enjoy my meal (I will say, however, that the sweet potato side was really good).

I had lived in Orchard Park for 25 years and driven by this restaurant maybe thousands of times and thought “that looks like a restaurant for an older crowd”.  You know what, I was right.  Our table (my father included) had the youngest combined age by maybe 50 years.  I don’t necessarily need a great or young crowd/atmosphere to have a good meal, but I almost felt out of place.  Almost like going into a bar and as soon as you walk in you realize that everyone inside is a regular.

The food wasn’t the absolute worst I’ve ever had (like I said, the lobster bisque was amazing), but overall it wasn’t very good, and (at least based on our experience) it definitely is not worth being claimed as one of the 100 best in Buffalo.  A combination of poor service, expensive prices, low food quality, and not the most appealing crowd all combined for a bad dining experience.  I know some people who love Eckl’s and that will drive out of there way up to enjoy a dinner here, but on my birthday it was disappointment and (unfortunately) probably my last visit to this restaurant.

(Alli edit: As I edited this post I felt bad…I know many people swear by the food here and would be offended to know we wrote a bad review.  I am hoping we just had a one-time uncharacteristically bad experience.  I think the history and reputation of this place deserves a second visit and maybe a new waitress and choosing a few different menu options will change our minds.)

Eckl's Beef & Weck on Urbanspoon

7 thoughts on “Food Porn: Eckl’s Beef and Weck

  1. i thought you went somewhere else for your 25th birthday? except charlie o’brien’s… wasn’t there another place?

    this is probably the most negative review you’ve written. pretty much 95% of your posts are generally positive though…

  2. Alli Suriani

    He went to three bday dinners technically; I took him to Mothers, his Dad took him to Eckls with me and his brother, and his whole family met us at Charlies.

  3. Tyler

    I have to say I am a little suprised. Eckls was literally at the end of my street for 18 years. Needless to say, I ate there frequently. I wouldn’t return if the quality wasn’t there. However there are some things you need to know. Eckls is from a by gone era. Im not suprised you had what seemed like excessive time before being served. (Although that doesn’t cancel out being unfriendly.) Eckls isn’t trying to turn tables at the same rate as say, Black and Blue. As for your food reviews, I would say they are spot on. Overall all items are not created equal on their menu. Some may even be very below average. However there are also some real all stars that will stand out against almost any other establishment. The actual Beef on Weck, and the Fish fry. The beef is hand carved, on many nights by the son of the original Mr Eckl, and is always cooked exactly the way you want. The fish fry is not overly battered and always good flavor. I guess the real point is, with the proper upfront knowledge the Eckls experience can really be supreme.

    • Alli Suriani

      I think we just had a uniquely bad experience. The combination of our very rude server (maybe she was having a bad day?) and some uncharacteristic subpar food (maybe the chef was having a bad day too?) made our experience very disappointing. The beef was perfect tho, and I am sure a Beef on Weck sandwich would have been fantastic. As i edited this post I felt bad; knowing so many people swear by this place I think it deserves a second chance….a different server and choosing some different menu items might change our bad first opinion.

  4. mom

    well maybe it means you have to go back there again – get a roast beef on weck and try the things that they are known for specifically…and I would like to add not only were you raised on homemade gravy – homemade everything is more like it….its no wonder they can’t compare…nothing is as good as mom’s…and dont you forget it

  5. MOTHER’S!!!!! that was it! thanks alli

  6. dino

    santas!! ha! you are not the only ones. I finally made the venture a couple years ago after hearing so many great things. I walked in and the life was sucked out of me, this place is where the fun goes to die. then i thought, well we are not here to rip it up, we are here to eat. bad service, and food was sub par. very disappointed.

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