Short Orders: Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo
17727 Addison Rd.

Don't order the tuna.

Most people know better than to stretch the limits of certain kitchens, anyway. And it's natural to make a few assumptions about this place.

The name and facade scream "sports bar," so you expect a mundane burger-and-fries menu and a lot of beer. Signs welcoming bikers to the place suggest a laid back atmosphere and waitresses in skimpy black outfits.

Of course, you'd be right...and wrong.


Cape Buffalo is a sports bar. But they discourage team wear on Friday and Saturday evenings. Management devotes half the space to pool tables, the other to tables and live music. Female wait staff wear the OSHA equivalent of the little black dress, revealing little cleavage, at least on recent visits. Yes, they have a game-friendly beer selection. They also stock Scotch and other high end spirits. It sits literally around the corner--bounded by more visible establishments. And the biker thing? Well, another sign inside says something about no do-rags or torn jeans after 8 p.m., again on weekends.

It's a schizophrenic place. Yet somehow Cape Buffalo negotiates the illness quite well. The kitchen may be their weakest department.

Their burgers are decent, according to sports bar standards, and accompanied not by fries alone, but potatoes four ways: chips (warm, crispy and very nice), frites (not as nice, but not below the norm), curly fries (also OK) and a few of those 80s throwback lattice fries. Yeah, it all tastes like spuds, salt and oil, but c'mon--the assorment is cool. Considering how well the kitchen handles fried potatoes, it's odd they falter when it comes to skins. The spinach and artichoke dip smacks of canned greens.

But food service is not the main focus here and the flavors are right for the price point. And the service can be much better than that.

Our waitress deducted the nasty tuna steak from the bill without fuss. She was also rather frank about the kitchen's expediting problems, stopping by as we worked through a table of appetizers to check on progress because "if I put in the entree order too soon it will come out before you're finished."

Very thoughtful. 'Course we wore the good jeans, so that may have accounted for some of the accorded respect.

Anyway, avoid the tuna. Dig into the chips.