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Roaming Buffalo adds attitude to comfort classics

When customers stroll up to the Roaming Buffalo Food Truck and scan the menu, a common response is: “Ew! Peanut butter on a burger?”

Owners Christopher and Valerie Taylor understand the initial hesitance, so they’ve been willing to give customers their money back if they’re not satisfied by the What? Burger (bacon, peanut butter – crunchy or creamy, plus bacon jam, $7).

One bite introduces a smoky-spicy 80/20 beef patty from Hanover Farms, Applewood-smoked bacon, a touch of peanut butter – not enough where it dominates the flavor or clings to the roof of your mouth – and the subtle sweetness of bacon jam, a sweet-and-salty bacon-flavored condiment that has been enlivened by Christopher Taylor’s addition of Frank’s RedHot sauce.

Only one customer has asked for money back since the truck launched in July 2011, and that customer admitted peanut butter was far from a favorite before ordering – but she “just had to try it.”

You won’t have to peruse social media to track down the location of the What? Burger, as the Taylors are in the process of opening their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Roaming Dee’s Pub & Grill (6831 Seneca St., Elma), a collaboration with Michael DiJoseph and his catering company, Mikey Dee’s, in the former Cobber’s by the Creek. The Roaming Buffalo Food Truck will remain in operation, but it will scale back weekday lunches in favor of summer festivals like the Food Truck Rodeo, Tunes in the Tent and Jam in the Valley.

While the What? Burger symbolizes the Taylors’ bold, unfiltered mentality and helps Roaming Buffalo stick out from the legions of burger-and-fries joints in Western New York, it’s the Dizzle – a three-time winner at Hamburg’s Burgerfest – that’s the most decorated.

Named after Christopher Taylor’s friend Mike “Dizzle” Overdorf, the quarter–pound burger with cheese (including provolone and pepper jack), portobello mushrooms, drunken onions (sautéed in Flying Bison beer) and garlic aioli ($7) may not measure up to the What? Burger, but it won’s Best Food Truck Burger through a public vote.

The B-Lo Classic burger (choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, choice of condiments, $6) is an option for those who want to appreciate Roaming Buffalo’s meat mixture without the frills. The BBQ Bacon Burger (bacon, sharp cheddar, drunken onions and Flying Bison Aviator Red barbecue sauce, $7) satisfies bacon lovers and also demands a generous pile of napkins.

Responding to customer feedback, the Taylors have removed the breadcrumbs from their ground-beef blend to appease gluten-free eaters, and now the burgers are cooked to order – crucial if you’re of the proud rare to medium-rare contingent. Previously, they were cooked medium or medium-well.

If you’re on the hunt for burger alternatives, the Buster Burger (100 percent bison with lettuce, tomato, red onion, dill pickles, ketchup and Weber’s mustard, $8) is an ode to the Bisons’ mascot. Bison meat is leaner and arguably more flavorful than ground beef.

Other sandwiches include two poultry options: a grilled chicken sandwich ($7), and the “Derty Bird” (grilled chicken breast, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, drunken onions and homemade Flying Bison Aviator Red barbecue sauce on a wheat roll, $7), plus unheralded fried bologna (drunken onions, Weber’s mustard, $5) and a Veggie Bliss (sautéed portabello mushroom, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato, red onion with provolone cheese and basil aioli on a wheat roll, $6).

The onion rings ($4), which capture “the magic of puppy dogs and unicorns,” according to a Twitter user, compete with fresh hand-cut french fries ($3) as Roaming Buffalo’s go-to side, although a local take on French-Canadian poutine weaves together fries, crumbly blue cheese and Frank’s RedHot sauce ($5). Other varieties of fries – like barbecue, garlic Parmesan and “[butt]-kickin’ fries” are available for $4.

As their footprint grows, expect the Taylors to stick to their mission: proudly vending classic Buffalo fare with a distinctively brazen approach.

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