To paraphrase the famous motto about the postman's steadfast dedication to his rounds: "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor a possible lawsuit could keep star local chef Paul Willis and his business partners from their appointed launching of another successful restaurant."
Willis, the culinary brawn behind Fuzzy's Taco Shop, Yucatan Taco Stand, Cabo Grande and Buffalo Cantina, wanted to expand his restaurant empire with Buffalo Gap Legendary Texas Cuisine.
However, that name provoked a legal injunction citing trademark infringement, brought by the owners of Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap. With the case settled, Willis, along with the restaurant's owners, PM McKinney Investments, opened their latest venture five weeks ago -- using the altered moniker Buffalo West.
The "West" part begins with its Camp Bowie West location. And it continues once inside as the slats of brown wood, cutting across thickly applied plaster-stucco walls, endow it with a farmhouse, or hunting lodge, look. And as country-and-Western tunes twang on a continuous background loop, nothing screams the Wild West more than a saddle in the entryway, swinging saloon doors and a trophy room where stuffed bucks, elk and longhorns cling to the walls.
But Buffalo West is equal parts Texas roadhouse and Austin inventive. Its diverse menu features everything from chicken-fried calf fries and a Texas rib-eye, to more adventuresome offerings such as chicken-fried frog legs.
As far as I'm concerned, Buffalo West had me at "fresh-cut potato chips with truffle oil" ($5). A hand-made hillock of chips arrives at the table dusted with herbs and Romano cheese and is just waiting to be dipped into an unusually zingy, complex blue cheese sauce.
The crab cake sliders ($8) showed all the hallmarks of their "handmade" billing, as the breading-to-crab ratio was favorably tilted toward the crab, but the entire affair suffered from scant Hollandaise sauce.
The chicken-fried frog legs ($18) arrived plump, juicy and perfectly fried, and, yes, they did taste pleasantly "like chicken." Despite their wonderful pairing with a lemon-garlic and fresh herb sauce, be advised: Frogs legs have an inconvenient number of bones.
No such problem with the sublime pan-fried quail with fettuccine ($16). Once you clear away the haystack of al-dente, julienned vegetables -- zucchini squash, carrots, celery and onions -- you will uncover a bird sporting a crackling skin that gives way to a lip-smacking succulent interior with a complex game-bird taste.
It shouldn't surprise that Buffalo West is extremely comfortable with two Western kitchen staples. Its pan-fried pork chop, ($14), butterflied and with hints of a cordon Texas interior of ham and Swiss cheese, carried a nicely burnished crust while also being moist from a white wine-lemon-Dijon sauce.
Meanwhile, the 8-ounce prime Texas strip ($15) also bore the same expert char as the pork chop, with the bonus of a deep smokiness thanks to a house roasted garlic and olive oil marinade, plus a brush of chimichurri.
It's hard to imagine a more enjoyable demise than Buffalo West's "death by chocolate cake" ($6). It stands 5 inches tall on the plate, in all its dark chocolate, gooey, multilayered majesty. The red velvet cake ($6) can hold its own with the chocolate cake's girth, though its cream cheese icing adds some desired tartness to the sweet proceedings.
Dining at Buffalo West delivers definitive proof that the culinary and business minds behind the restaurant have, thankfully, left the courtroom wrangling behind and are back in the kitchen -- where they belong.