When talking about food, the word “Buffalo” has come to mean a type of seasoning or sauce thanks to the popularity of the chicken wing, which was invented in our fair city by Teressa Bellissimo back in 1964. Traditionally anything truly Buffalo-style is tossed in a sauce made from melted butter and Frank’s Original Hot Sauce and served hot, medium, or mild. It’s tangy, spicy, and zesty flavor is so popular it has graced many a table and has been served with much more than just wings. I can’t even begin to describe what makes it so delicious, but it is the type of sauce that once I even smell it, I start to salivate and immediately crave it. You don’t even have to be a fan of chicken wings to want it. I mean let’s face it, the chicken wing itself isn’t the draw here- it’s just a vessel to deliver that awesome sauce.
Being true Buffalo food joints, chicken wings are on the menu of The Steer, The Lake Effect, and Dug’s Dive, but we also have used this wonder sauce at on a variety of other menu items, from the more common chicken fingers to burger toppings, flatbread pizzas, and even a more recent special: a Buffalo-style Guacamole at The Steer. For the most part, we stick to the simplicity of the classic recipe when delivering this flavor profile. Hey, if it ain’t broke….
But what about our vegan friends and family members? Don’t they deserve some Buffalove too? That was the question that plagued our own plant based cook and restaurant co-owner Erin Curtin. Sure vegan alternatives for Buffalo sauce flavor have been done before. Cauliflower “wings” for example, are pretty popular right now; But what about a healthy choice for those looking for a taste of Buffalo as well as the satisfying experience of biting into a creamy and spicy sandwich? Erin observed, “Even those who enjoy a plant based diet crave that comfort food feeling you get when you bite into something hearty, spicy, and juicy- I know I do.” So Curtin came up with a Buffalo Toasted Tofu Sandwich Special for the menu at The Steer. Of course, to meet vegan requirements, the butter in the sauce had to go. Instead some olive oil, lime juice, and a touch of cider vinegar are combined with the Frank’s sauce and the tofu is marinated in this Buffalo sauce version for at least 2 hours. The marinated tofu is then toasted on a flat top and served on a multi-grain house-made roll with romaine lettuce, tomato, avocado, our own tempeh bacon, hemp ranch dressing, and heaped with fresh micro-greens. It is served with either Sweet Potato Fries or a Balsamic Side Salad. If gluten is not your friend, try it Topless, meaning without the bun and on top of a salad, (keep your clothes on please) or ask for it on our house-made gluten free flatbread- just ask your server.
Currently this sandwich can be found only on The Steer’s Weekly Specials Menu- but fear not, due to overwhelming popularity it just may be around to stay!