"Hi Janice, I work with a group of professionals (all women) in the downtown area, and we plan to schedule a Christmas lunch out of the office. Our team leader prefers an establishment that is "nicely decorated" for the holidays, and we are willing to travel outside the downtown area for our holiday lunch. Please advise if you have any suggestions. Thanks."

-- Cindy

Dear Cindy: "Nicely decorated" means different things to different people.

The decor is certainly stunning at Della Terra in the Avant Building, 200 Delaware Ave., in the Embassy Suites hotel. The room is high-ceilinged and huge windows overlook downtown and trees adorned with white lights.

If you are lucky, there might even be a flake or two, conveniently melting, needless to say, when it is time to pile into the cars and go back to the office. (Of course, I know that you will all be going back to work!)

Anyway, if any restaurant shouts "Christmas in the City," this may well be it. The menu? It is pretty standard -- lots of salads and sandwiches and pastas, rather than a breakthrough in creativity, but it is all good. In this case, the room is king.

The holiday season is a fine time of year to eat at Lombardo's, 1198 Hertel Ave. Ordinarily, the restaurant serves lunch only on Fridays, but starting Dec. 5, lunch will be served Monday through Friday. Lombardo's is adorned in sophisticated fashion, with a forest of white lighted trees out front, lots of red, green and gold inside. And wonderful flowers, too.

Choose from the Italian-themed menu of salads, pastas and sandwiches, or try the two-course lunch menu specials. They change daily, with at least one meat or fish course to choose from. And for dessert, homemade biscotti -- would you expect anything else?

Here's a suburban suggestion. I like Black and Blue Crab and Steakhouse, 5493 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, best at lunchtime. This is another beautiful room -- big, with a high ceiling and a friendly buzz. Add to that a good lunch menu. I am nuts for the Asian Shrimp Salad over fresh spinach with toasted cashews -- but then, anything with cashews is going to be great.

A note about seating there: When you reserve, specify that you want to be in the main room, which looks over the bar and the glass enclosed wine "cellar." That's where the fun is. The side room, used for overflows, is fine, but the excitement is not there.

If you weren't talking only about a luncheon, I would have sent you to Salvatore's, which is, sadly, open only for dinner. It is easy to get to, off Route 33 (Genesee Street) on Transit Road. The restaurant is an all-out Christmas production, complete with, at least in the past, holiday figures and falling snow; carols are a given. Some may consider it overdone, but it is a lot of fun and people come from miles around to enjoy.

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