"Dear Janice: Our book club is made up of members who live in the Southtowns, Lancaster, Williamsville and Tonawanda (though several of us go to book club directly from work). We have been meeting at Brennan's at Main and Transit on the last Tuesday of the month. Lately we have been wanting to branch out and try a new restaurant. We would like something fairly central, where we wouldn't be rushed out, but there are complications. Some of our members don't want the hassle of driving on Main Street in Williamsville at that 5 to 6 p.m. hour, even though Thruway access is easy for that strip. We would prefer locally owned as opposed to a chain restaurant, if possible. Thank you!"
-- Mary R.
A. Why don't you move up a little farther on Main Street, Mary, and try Le Metro, 5110 Main St., Williamsville, in the Walker Center. OK, I'll admit that Exit 50 is not anyone's favorite place to be between 5 and 6 p.m. during the week, but then no place really is. Unless you choose to meet at a little cabin in the woods somewhere, and those cabins are hard to find.
At least you can park easily at the Walker Center and the restaurant is large enough so you can sit in a room away from the bar. Serious discussions can then ensue.
Also, Le Metro's menu offers good choices in the pizza, pasta and salad departments. Or even Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup that's filling and low-calorie, too.
Speaking of soup, you can't beat Brodo, 4548 Main St. in Snyder. (Park in rear.)
Linguini's, 5380 Genesee St., at Harris Hill Road, Bowmansville, is in a quieter location -- well, it happens to be behind a gas station. Fun Italian food.
But I have another suggestion for you. Why not try coming into the city? Get off at a downtown exit for Betty's, 370 Virginia St. You might even ask to be seated in the new room where it's a little quieter.
Then there's Cole's, 1104 Elmwood Ave., owned by the same people who own Brennan's. Shango's, 3260 Main St., between Hertel and Niagara Falls Boulevard, offers really good Cajun food. I especially like the gumbo made with a true, dark roux.
Yes, parking in the city can be more challenging than the burbs, but it's far from impossible -- especially if you show up early. And you're a bunch of strong, smart women, I can tell.
Beef on weck notes: Can it be that reports of this iconic sandwich's death are greatly exaggerated? I made that suggestion in last week's column and was promptly deluged with email full of dining suggestions. Thank you all for writing, and would that it were so.
I'm still not convinced, though, so here is what I am going to do. One of my New Year's resolutions is to visit some of the more tempting-sounding ideas that were sent in and report on them -- very soon, I promise. Stay tuned!
Send your dining questions and comments to longtime News restaurant critic Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org.