Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where in the heck is a good beef on weck?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 7:30 AM

The beef on weck sandwich at Remedy Food + Drink is a little bit of Buffalo -- in Waldo.
  • The beef on weck sandwich at Remedy Food + Drink is a little bit of Buffalo — in Waldo.

My father grew up in the hamlet of Lockport, New York: 18 miles from Niagara Falls and famous for the original canal locks created for the Erie Canal, 1980s supermodel Kim Alexis, and a great cheeseburger joint called Reid's. Because Lockport was just outside Buffalo, that town's signature sandwich, roast beef on weck, was extremely popular in the smaller canal town, too.

Beef on weck isn't much more than a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, but it's the weck that makes it great: a kummelweck — sometimes spelled kimmelweck — bun. On the East Coast, bakers actually produce the unique hard roll, a kaiser bun that's sprinkled with pretzel salt and caraway seeds before baking. The chewy, crusty roll effectively soaks up the beef jus served with the sandwich — it's essentially a French dip sandwich with a Teutonic attitude.

Kansas City hasn't taken to the sandwich with the fervor of upstate New York. Cafe Europa used to serve an outrageously good version with a kummelweck bun baked by the venue once known as City Tavern. Cafe Europa dropped it from its lunch menu two years ago.

But three other local saloons are serving excellent variations on the sandwich: the Beer Kitchen, Swagger and the new Remedy Food + Drink in Waldo.

Any local bakery would have to produce a true kummelweck bun in limited batches for this market, so a couple of restaurants have resorted to ingenious ways to turn ordinary kaiser rolls into a pretty reasonable facsimile of the real thing. (Perhaps inspired by this do-it-yourself recipe in The Awl). Remedy Food + Drink chef Max Watson brushes the tops of egg buns — from Farm to Market Bakery — with clarified butter and sprinkles sea salt and caraway seeds on this for an improvised version. The result is a little softer than the real thing, but it’s very good. The Remedy sandwich, including fries, is $9.50.

Michael Peterson, the executive chef at the Beer Kitchen, also uses a Farm to Market Bakery product for his $11 sandwich, which isn't piled with roast beef but with roasted prime rib. He also tarts up the kaiser rolls with caraway seeds and pretzel salt so that it's a darn good imitation of an East Coast kummelweck.

Swagger uses a Roma Bread roll — topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt — for its tasty $11 beef sandwich. No one working there would tell me if the seeds and salt were added in-house, but who cares? It makes a satisfying lunch.

So, Fat City readers, who else in the metro sells a good beef on weck sandwich?

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