A fan favorite for standard Buffalo fare
The classic beef on ’weck with fries is a winner.
photos by eric frick
2526 Delaware Avenue
North of Buffalo, just south of Kenmore, Kelly’s Korner sits at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Hartwell Road. As denizens of Ken-Ton, we’d pass this establishment, recognizeable from the Fighting Irishman á là Notre Dame painted on the building’s exterior, as we passed by on our way into the city most Saturdays. I recognized the mascot before I could read the name of the restaurant.
Inside, a digital jukebox and an ATM may be the only things that have changed since Van Halen (David Lee Roth era) was at the top of the charts. It’s like a time capsule of my cool neighbor’s finished basement combined with the bowling alley bars that I was always curious about when I wandered off from our family’s Saturday afternoon ritual. Now that I’m old enough to drink at Kelly’s Corner and not just play arcade tabletop bowling until adults run out of quarters, my friend and I head in and grab a table. The bar was full with an assorted cast of characters, including a young couple on a date (the man was wearing a suit!), a road crew, a couple of old friends from the neighborhood, a young man on his phone, and some pensioners who usually pack it up when the post-work crowd arrives.
Food items are listed on the wall beneath the kelly green tin ceiling and Coors Light NASCAR banners, augmented with numerous backlit beer signs that spread messages such as “Chili” and “Hamburger Soup with Vegetables and Noodles.” Who needs a menu at Kelly’s Korner?
Our server swung out from behind the bar, and we ordered away: kielbasa, beef on ’weck (yes, we would like French fries), ten wings medium, ten hot, a Molson Canadian, and a Guinness for my refined friend. The server was kind enough to double-check that we were sharing everything.
First out of the kitchen were the medium wings and kielbasa. The wings are a traditional medium that tick every box: crispy without being dry, a great balance of Frank’s and butter, and served with a Solo cup of blue cheese and celery. (While I have your attention, I’d like to recommend a new ordering system for Buffalo sauce wings. A percentage-based system. Some places pride themselves on their “medium” actually being hot, to the point that words and meanings part ways—isn’t there enough division in the world already? I long for the day when I can say, “Ten wings, 80/20 Frank’s.”)
The kielbasa tastes like it was made in a hot water preparation, sliced lengthwise and arranged to cover a delightfully crusty Kaiser roll. Kelly’s Korner makes no decisions for you. Like the beef on ’weck: you are brought meat and bread. Don’t fret; there is Weber’s mustard for your sausage. The sausage has good snap and is seasoned well.
A few minutes later, our server returned with the beef on ’weck and the hot wings; we ordered two more beers and shifted our attention to the new arrivals.
When I was younger, when I recognized logos before I could read, I remember laughing the first time I encountered a Double Stuf Oreo. The filling seemed so comically out of proporotion to the cookies. This beef on ’weck elicited the same reaction. Doubling down on the eighties references, if one were wondering, “Where’s the Beef?” I can confidently say that it is at Kelly’s Korner, on a Kimmelweck roll. Horseradish and ketchup already on the table, the tender and thin roast beef was dressed and attacked by both of us.
The hot wings broke with traditional Buffalo sauce. While we agreed that there’s a really lovely warming spice to these wings, we were unable to agree on how it got there. Candidates included Cajun, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and/or adobo. Once over the initial shock of a non-Frank’s preparation, I can say that they are good. (I should state that I am neutral on non-Buffalo sauce wings, but I like knowing that they won’t be Buffalo-based when I order.)
I am not sure if you would want to eat here on the hottest day of the year; it’s just not that kind of menu, and vegetarians probably have French fries as their only option. But if you’re in the mood for We’re Talking Proud-era Buffalo with zero irony, I’ll meet you at Kelly’s Korner and we can tabletop bowl to see who picks up the next round.