When it comes to Hamburg, NY, Kate has pretty much one thing to say about it: “Hamburg is mysterious.” So, when Siri decided that we must take the Buffalo Skyway to get there, mysterious was the least of Kate’s worries. You see, the Skyway is one of the most treacherous stretches of pavement in existence. It’s also elusive. I think I had to circle the on-ramp twice before trying my approach from an alternate angle. We finally made it on the Skyway, and after passing 9 million acres of industrial wasteland, we reached our destination.
Hoak’s Restaurant is a fairly unassuming little place on the shore of Lake Erie, and after cruising through the stench of factories, it’s quite welcoming to be greeted with the delightful aroma of deep fryers full of fish. This place was recommended to me by my good friend, Chimo, who called it “the Paula’s Donuts of fish fries.” Those are some big shoes to fill.
Although there was a parking lot full of cars, we only had to wait a few moments for a table for two—that includes waiting for the hostess to finish her conversation with some mommy who must have been one of her students who is sad to hear she’s retiring from her day job as a teacher. (I’m making some assumptions and filling in some gaps here, but I think that’s what was going down.)
We were shown to our table in what must be the back sun-room of some sort, which had a fantastic view of the icy waters of Lake Erie. Shortly after being seated, a 7-year-old boy dropped off some bread. I’m only half joking. He was 14, but it was still a bit surprising.
We ordered our fish fries, which our waitress explained were not beer-battered. Hoak’s fish fry is battered and breaded. Say what? Yes, you read that right: battered and breaded. That leaves a lot to the imagination, so we didn’t know what to expect.
Our dinners arrived very quickly, and looked much more “fancy” than I had in mind. The fish was encased in a thin, crispy coating of a slightly salty batter and covered in a cornmeal breading. Very unique, and quite tasty. The fish itself was more “fishy” than other fish fries we’ve had, but not in a bad way—it seemed fresh. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, albeit more tangy than others. Perhaps made with the tangy zip of Miracle Whip. I had a baked potato, which was average, and Kate had French fries, which were crispy.
Overall, a truly unique experience.