Lewiston has many things going for it: tons of history, a waterside location and a reputation as a Western New York summertime destination. If you want to experience a microcosm of all those pluses, head on up to the Silo.
Located on the banks of the Niagara River, the Silo sits in a small, cylindrical building with a wraparound porch that was used as a coal silo in a former life. My boyfriend, David, and I visited for dinner on a recent muggy Sunday, taking advantage of the cool breeze drifting off the river and the unbeatable view of the sun setting over the water. The rest of Lewiston must have had the same idea, since the picnic tables on the porch and the ones in front of the building were bustling with a mix of teenagers, retirees and families.
The Silo's menu boasts standard burger-and-fries fare, as well as a variety of chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, salads and favorites such as beef on weck and barbecue pork. For beverages, customers can pick from milkshakes, fountain pop and even a few wine and canned beer selections.
The building's interior consists of just one hallway -- register, condiments and silverware on one side, kitchen and pop dispensers on the other. We sidled up to the register, and David went for a classic bacon cheeseburger ($6.99) with fries and a medium loganberry ($3.89). I helped myself to a loganberry as well and then decided to tackle a legend: the Silo Haystack ($6.99), featured on the Travel Channel's "Man V. Food" in 2010.
We found a table outside and waited about 10 minutes for our orders; we got the tray from a new pick-up window, installed this winter, that opened out to the porch. Moving the window from the hallway freed up a lot of room inside and kept traffic moving.
We shared David's generous portion of fries and agreed they tasted fine, though they could have been more crisp. His burger was cooked medium and included lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and mayo. He declared it better than the average burger, noting the generous size (a third of a pound) and the thick slices of bacon.
On signs and menus, the Silo proudly declares that the beef used for its burgers is humanely raised and certified steroid- and hormone-free.
And now, to my Haystack. It arrived piping hot, a cholesterol-laden vision of chopped rib-eye beef and melted mozzarella cheese, piled -- and I mean piled -- with golden hash browns. One bite was all it took for me to understand why this sandwich of sandwiches snagged a spot on a national television show.
Adam Richman of "Man V. Food" called the Haystack "the holy trinity of dude foods," but I'm here to tell you, any taste buds can appreciate this meal. The crispy hash browns added crunch to the perfectly cooked meat and cheese, and the combination of the three main components with the mayo and toasted roll was an oh-so-guilty pleasure, rich and satisfying to the last bite.
We somehow still had room for dessert, so we headed over to the Silo's ice cream counter, located in a refurbished caboose steps away from the main restaurant. Faced with dozens of Perry's Ice Cream flavors as well as smoothies, iced coffee drinks and more, I got a small watermelon sherbet ($3.19), and David chose a root beer float ($3.99). Both chilly concoctions were perfect ways to cool off after a long, hot day.
Whether you're looking for simple, delicious food, a beautiful view or a casual, outdoors setting, just set your sights on Lewiston. You really get it all at The Silo.
4 pennies (out of four)
"Perfect summertime destination."
WHERE: 115 N. Water St., Lewiston (744-9680)
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, May through September.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: cf,gari,9.5,10.5 Yes