Charlie, an Unassuming Butcher, Defines Buffalo Roast Beef

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Charlie The Butcher
1065 Wehrle Dr, Williamsville, NY 14221
Web: Charlie The Butcher
Phone: 716.633.8330
Rating:    [learn more]
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"Charlie's superb Beef on Weck isn't even its best sandwich. A slightly more expensive version, the $7.50 herb roasted prime rib, is even better - thicker, juicier, and encrusted."

Having endlessly debated which of a handful of well-known restaurants makes the best Beef on Weck sandwich, we've tried many of Buffalo's famous Wecks, ultimately concluding that they're done well by many but superbly by few. Our favorite, like the area's best chicken wing restaurant, is not glamorous, expensive, or trying to offer a massive menu of options. Instead, Wehrle Drive's Charlie the Butcher would be easy to confuse from the outside with an ice cream parlor, and its nine satellite locations inside of Wegmans Supermarkets, Noco Gas Stations, and the Ellicott Square Building are hardly advertised. But once you discover a location that's near your home, you'll go back again and again - especially once you try Charlie's amazing herb roasted prime rib sandwich, or if you're a fan of hot dogs and sausages.

The Story: Once you're at the counter of a Charlie the Butcher's Kitchen or Express, the secrets to serving great roast beef sandwiches are, apparently, right before your eyes. The process starts with a large roast, sitting on a wooden cutting board under a mild heat lamp, alongside at least two other types of meat. Seemingly dry on the outside, they'll glisten slightly with fat, then drip lightly as they're cut. A fresh bun, pulled from one of several piles, will be cut before your eyes, dipped in a small bowl of natural juice, and laid out for meat to be stacked.

Once assembled, the standard roast beef sandwich ($5.50, half size $4.50) is augmented by a side pickle and sealed container of fresh horseradish. The process isn't magic, but the medium rare, moist beef is, especially if the bun you've picked is the famously salted kummelweck. Charlie's bun has just the right amount and chunk thickness of salt on top - there's no need to sweep any off - and it brings out the natural flavor of the beef inside. For that reason, we always pass on the optional small cup of white horseradish, but readily chase the Beef on Weck with Charlie's included sour dill pickle.

Highs: Amazingly, Charlie's superb Beef on Weck isn't even its best sandwich. A slightly more expensive version, the $7.50 herb roasted prime rib, is even better - the beef is thicker, like a steak sandwich, juicier, and benefits from external encrusting that includes visible pieces of rosemary and spices. On a kummelweck bun, it tastes like the premium upgrade that the area's other Weck merchants forgot to offer. The Corned Beef Sandwich, served on a white roll as an alternative to rye if you wish, is also quite good if you're into that sort of flavor.

One last major note: the main Charlie's location on Wehrle may not be its most convenient, but it offers a considerably expanded menu - complete with char-grilled Sahlen and Wardynski hot dogs, plus Italian, Polish, and Chorizo sausages. You'll be hard-pressed to find another place with all of these options on the menu; along with the Loganberry, they all make Charlie the Butcher's Kitchen an especially great place to stop to sample a variety of authentic Buffalo favorites.

Lows: Try, as we have, to explain to your in-laws that you're getting your favorite sandwich from a gas station. While Charlie's Noco locations are winners on convenience thanks to their varied geography, and augmented by clean, modern dining rooms, we can't help but prefer its Wegmans and standalone locales. And we wish that the Herb-Encrusted Prime Rib, only available one day per week at certain stores, was sold at all times; some of Charlie's locations apparently don't even sell it. Finally, your server may forget to offer to trim the fat from an otherwise great cut of meat. Do yourself a favor and remind him or her; otherwise, you'll be distracted from enjoying your sandwich.

The Verdict: As another of Buffalo Chow's all-time favorite restaurants, any location of Charlie the Butcher's is a worthwhile visit for roast beef and prime rib, but the extra drive to the original location guarantees you the option to experience of two or even three local favorites at once. No matter which one you visit, you'll find Charlie the Butcher's to be worthy of our high recommendation.

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Comments (2)

Shannon Lantz :

I respectfully disagree - I had a beef on weck from Charlie's and I thought it was not very good. I liked the ones from Anderson's better.

Todd Griffith :

Nobody, and I mean nobody makes a beef on weck like Charlie! There are no comparisons!

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