The Brocton, NY Edition: As the Sun Sets Over Lake Erie

IMG_0058 copyOn certain hill rises in this area, you can look toward the West and catch a glimpse of blue. Just for a second, it looks like the ocean. … but it’s Lake Erie.

There’s a reason why Lake Erie is perpetually underutilized: It’s freezing cold, used to be polluted (still is?), and is dangerous. Storms move in faster than you can get out, even on a boat. And they’re wicked. There are a number of known shipwrecks in the deep freshwater lake, and those are only the ones that were noticed.

Lake Erie does have great sunsets. I’ve enjoyed them, but for all my years visiting this area, I’ve never seen a restaurant attempt to capitalize on Erie’s sunset’s like ZeBro’s: Here, weather permitting, you can sit outside; there’s live music weekend evenings in the summer, possibly even a raw bar. I’ve never seen it, but who am I to judge? It sounds great.

IMG_0055 copyIMG_0043 copyOn the other hand: Who really needs “outside” when you’ve got these giant plate-glass windows — there are plenty of restaurants in San Francisco and north whose charms don’t rely on beach access. And what about an over-the-top, wood-paneled, nautical theme inside? And the good company?

IMG_0048 copyZeBro’s has plenty of charms. Like a lot of spots that can rest their laurels on the setting, their food is a mixed bag. I’ve had good food here: I love their warm cornbread muffins that come with optional honey butter or cinnamon honey butter. I think their French onion soup, in its individual crock, is both classy and satisfying. The fish fry is good.

What I ordered on this occasion, the Barcelona top sirloin ($15.95) — an 8 oz. sirloin served over a grilled Portabella mushroom and topped with wild mushroom pesto — was just okay. … I think (I know) part of my problem was indecision; when I don’t know what to order, one strategy is to look for house specialties, which usually mean something, whether tried-and-true or unique, and to just pick one.

IMG_0052 copyIn this case, the steak (bottom right corner) ended up just being greyish and messy  — although I should have seen it coming. As soon as our waiter couldn’t answer the question: “What’s mushroom pesto like; pesto is normally made with fresh herbs, etc…” I should have abandoned ship. Yet somehow he talked his way out of answering.

I’m pretty sure I was staring out the window.

Ze’Bros, Harbor House, Westfield, NY, 716.326.2017

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