McPartlan's Corner is one of those comfortable neighborhood institutions that people have loved for years. McPartlan's has its history written on its menu, which says that the family opened a restaurant in South Buffalo in 1955, and in 1971 moved to the corner of Wehrle and South Forest, where it has served innumerable steaks, corned beef sandwiches, chicken wings and glasses of cold beer since then.
I have a more personal story: Before we moved to Buffalo, we'd usually stop at McPartlan's for wings and weck when we were visiting family in town. Then, the night we moved into our home in 1985, our next-door neighbor rang the bell to tell us, with effusive and hilarious profanity, that if we were looking for a place to eat, McPartlan's had the "best @#%$^&*! food" in the area. We thanked him and then dissolved into gales of laughter upon closing the door.
Over the years, we've stood in line for a Friday night fish fry, helped pack the place before St. Patrick's Day and brought out-of-town friends and relatives there for meals. It's a comfortable place where the food is generally reliably good, and that's probably why the clientele is so faithful.
On the Friday afternoon when we met John and Pat there for lunch, we cleared all that from our mind, although we did tell a couple of amusing stories about taking some visitors from rural Ireland there; they loved the steaks but said of the potato skins, "At home, we feed those to the pigs!"
The menu is extensive without being overwhelming, with soups, salads, several kinds of appetizers, wings, sandwiches and entrees, the vast majority of which are under the Cheap Eats barrier of $10.
We love the classic touches on the McPartlan's menu, which offers both cheese and crackers and two longtime favorites, artichoke hearts au gratin and spinach bread. There are some innovations, too, including a selection of panini – chicken, turkey or vegetable (tomato basil pesto, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and provolone).
There weren't too many people eating lunch when we arrived on the early side of noon, but the place filled up as time passed, with families, couples and what looked like a group of five co-workers. In our experience, the early dinner hour draws a lot of seniors. There is a long wooden bench in the foyer area, and on Friday nights we have seen it filled.
Unlike a lot of places, McPartlan's serves its fresh haddock fish fry (shipped from Boston, according to the menu) daily, and offers both a regular and miniature size.
We tried the mini-fish ($8.99), which came with a generous scoop of chopped cole slaw, a side dish of potatoes (we chose the German potato salad from a list that included mashed, french fried, American potato salad and pasta salad) and a slender fish filet. The fish arrived steaming hot and was fresh and delicious under the classic breading. The German potato salad drew particular praise with its melded flavors of vinegar and rich bacon.
The turkey club ($8.99) was a high-quality, platter-filling creation. The thick layers of fresh-sliced turkey were cold and fresh, the bacon was crisp, the bread toasted and crunchy. The sandwich included a handful of chips. Fries could have been added for $1.25, but they would have been far too much food. As it was, a quarter of the sandwich went home.
The beef on weck ($7.29) was made on a stellar weck roll, with a slight crispiness to its crust and a soft interior. The amount of salt and caraway was perfect, neither too sparse nor overwhelming.
Alas, the beef inside, although tender and flavorful, was a bit on the dry side. This was ordered with a side of fries ($1.25) and they were extremely good, hot, crispy and right out of the fryer.
The Reuben sandwich ($7.99) could be ordered with turkey or corned beef, and served open-faced or closed, with two slices of bread.
Being traditionalists, we went with the corned beef and the extra slice of bread, and we were glad we did. The corned beef was tender and delicious, not overly spiced or too salty. In fact, bits of this generous sandwich were passed around and even one diner who is not a big fan of the cured meat agreed that it was extremely good. The thin layer of sauerkraut and slather of Thousand Island dressing, along with the melted cheese, was a perfect blend. And the slightly crispy grilled rye was so good that we were glad we didn't choose the open-face version.
3 pennies (out of 4)
Where: 669 Wehrle Drive, Amherst (632-9896)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.Handicapped-accessible: Yes