Local Diner Finds Flavor with Locally Grown Food

Over the past year, Tucker Curtin, owner of Lake Effect Diner (and Dug’s Dive & The Steer), has been working hard with local farmers and members of his staff to bring fresh, locally grown food to the table.  

“About a year ago, we closed for 6 weeks to do some re-vamping of our recipes and our staff.  I was just not happy with the flavors.  I wanted our food to bring people back to their childhood–like when your grandmother used to make you pancakes.”  Curtin decided that the best way to do this is by having more control over the raw products that make the food.  

“We did research on ways to process everything in-house.  We asked the local farmers for their input, and we made commitments to each other.”  It’s all about supply and demand. “Smaller farms don’t want to produce more than they know that they can sell, so not a lot of things are readily available. Restaurants don’t want to order things that they can’t get consistently.”  Sounds like a vicious cycle.  

“We went to the farms and saw where everything happened.  The farm where our cows come from is great. They have the happiest cows, and a very happy bull named Bucky–he keeps the other cows motivated.”

So far, Lake Effect Diner has committed to processing their own meat and making all sauces from scratch.  This involves grinding their own Italian, pork, and turkey sausages, making their own dry mix for pancakes, along with making hummus, blueberry and strawberry toppings from scratch, and soon they will be making their own mayonnaise.

Curtin only uses eggs provided by Clarence’s Kerher Farms. The egg yolks are more dense, and the whites are so much more flavorful than what you’d get elsewhere. Lake Effect also cures their own bacon from unprocessed pork belly from local farms, resulting in thick, crispy pieces of yummy bacon.  

The pancake batter is the result of trial and error. “We really played with the pancakes a lot.  Now we have all different kinds.”  Curtin made a stack of fresh blueberry pancakes topped with homemade blueberry sauce and real whip cream.  “You can’t have good pancakes without real maple syrup.”  N.Y. Wendel of East Concord provides real maple syrup and sugar, along with their gluten free, hormone free chicken.  Curtin is also expecting whole, local, hormone free, USDA-inspected beef and pork in early August.  “Buying local food sometimes means waiting around for it, but I hope that more local restaurants will join this trend and start building better partnerships with our local farms.”  

Biting into that blueberry pancake was heaven. Every bite had a burst of fresh blueberry.  The salty-sweet bacon held its own–it’s so refreshing when a bite of bacon does not get mixed in with everything else. It’s a real country breakfast in a 50′s style diner.  Lake Effect also serves over 25 flavors of milk shakes and fresh squeezed orange juice from a machine on the diner counter.  The fresh orange juice is a must! It’s like putting a whole orange in your mouth! 

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Lake Effect Diner is located at 3165 Main Street, next door to The Steer.  Their hours are from 7AM to 10PM Sunday through Thursdays, and 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.  

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12 comments
PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

Christa, nice website. Your group can do so much for the food scene in western New York. Congratulations on your efforts.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

It wasn't a negative comment about BRO or the writer. Buffalo has a long way to go to become a foodie destination and it's good that this restaurant is taking the city in a better direction.

Scott Norwood
Scott Norwood

Brilliant insight into the restaurant and/or the food. I love the comments that say absolutely NOTHING about the actual story, but merely put in their 2 cents about BRO or the writer.

On another note, Lake Effect is a great little diner and I desperately wish there were a few more non-chain diners closer to downtown.

ChristaSeychew
ChristaSeychew

Field & Fork Network is proud to have assisted Tucker Curtin in sourcing locally. We connected him with pork and beef farmers, helped him understand how to get better eggs from his local vendor, and informed him of the Clinton-Bailey Market's wholesale hours/opportunities. Tucker took it all very seriously by visiting some of the farms himself and really taking the whole process to heart. In my experience, Tucker is a man willing to think outside of the box in order to provide his customers with great service and a good, quality product. Great job, Tucker!

Field and Fork Network is a non-profit organization that works to connect local chefs, industrial purchasers and consumers to WNY farmers and artisan producers. Our second annual Farmer-Chef Conference will happen in late January. We're thrilled to have helped local restaurants like SAMPLE, the Aroma Group, Lake Effect Diner, Verbena, and Torches (to name a few) also make the local connection. Check us out at FieldandForkNetwork.com.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

kudos. haven't eaten here in years, but definitely will. Exciting.

DMZ
DMZ

Never had a bad meal at Lake Effect, one of the best Burgers ever. Everything was very fresh and homemade.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

It's about time that BRO featured a restaurant that doesn't rely on a Sysco truck. There aren't too many of them. Maybe one day Buffalo will be a foodie destination.

oldwaiter
oldwaiter

This is a fantastic idea---with so many local farms and products, why should we have to eat blueberries from Guatemala or garlic from China? The other day, I looked at some tomatoes that were listed as "Product of Mexico!" Great job Tucker!

star
star

Will be in soon to sample some of the new items.

Keep up the good work.

Molly
Molly

This is great to hear. I have been to Lake Effect before a few years ago. I was not that into it, except for the milkshakes! Now that they have "revamped" things I will have to check it out again.

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