I felt a little anxious when I noticed that the parking lot next to Family Tree restaurant was close to being full on a recent Saturday morning. My John had a midmorning tee time and we were hoping to fit in breakfast with John and Pat.
Once inside we realized that there were plenty of open tables, in rooms so large that you almost lose track of them, along with a couple of side rooms and alcoves. We noticed that several large family groups – the kind that overwhelm a smaller place – were being cared for efficiently. We were shown to a table immediately, our service was quick and attentive and our food came out immediately.
The Family Tree menu is Greek-accented, with souvlaki, feta and tzatziki available in breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes, and seven Greek dinner selections, including mousaka (layers of eggplant, ground beef and potatoes), pastitsio (baked macaroni, ground beef and grated cheese) and gemista (stuffed peppers), each for $10.99. For dessert, in addition to rice pudding or baklava, Family Tree offers a galaktoboureko, a Greek custard pie. Each is $3.89.
Because it was early, we were able to choose from the breakfast specials (7 to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday) and the regular breakfast menu.
Our first breakfast special was two eggs any style, served with home fries, toast and an order of sausage, ham or bacon for $4.59. This was a substantial plate of food for a seldom-seen price. The eggs were ordered scrambled and everything was served hot. We prefer our home fries slightly crispier, but they were still good.
The second breakfast was a special, too – French toast or pancakes, $3.59 alone, $4.99 with sausage, ham or bacon. The French toast was made with three slices of extra-thick bread that had been soaked just long enough in the egg before being fried. Extra egg can create a slick coating on the French toast that then doesn't absorb syrup. This was done just right.
The feta and spinach omelette ($5.99), made with three eggs and served with home fries, toast or pita, was excellent. The plump omelette was flecked with deep green shredded spinach and stuffed with bold, salty, slightly melted feta.
The souvlaki breakfast was $8.99, a few bucks more than the others, but the helping size was much larger, too. It was available with souvlaki-prepared chicken, beef or thin-sliced gyro meat. We chose the chicken and received a pile of eight chicken breast tenders. Each was marinated in lemon and oil, dusted with spices, then grilled to perfection. The souvlaki breakfast came with a generous portion of home fries and toast.
It's easy to see why this spot is so popular. The food and service are of high quality and the prices are reasonable. Nothing on the menu is unusual or groundbreaking, but the clientele is obviously happy with the offerings, and so were we.
> RESTAURANT REVIEW
FAMILY TREE ?RESTAURANT
Review: 3 pennies (Out of 4)
Where: 4346 N. Bailey Ave., Amherst?(838-2233)Hours: Opens daily at 7 a.m., and closes at 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.