Lots of office buildings have cafeterias, often operated by national companies and serving good enough food. But one in which the local owner is presenting all kinds of healthy choices is worth notice.
And so it happened that John, Pat and I wound up at Apples Deli inside what is now the Appletree Business Park in Cheektowaga. The business park’s roots as a shopping mall are obvious, with many exterior doors, a huge parking lot and wide interior corridors that now open into offices rather than shops.
Apples Deli is just inside the main entrance, before you reach the pretty and refreshing fountain in the center of the corridors. On the way in, we noticed people enjoying their lunches at several small cafe tables along the exterior wall of the deli, under unnecessary but adorable umbrellas.
Inside the deli, there are many choices, including a large menu on the wall, so if you haven’t been here before, you might want to grab a sheet of the daily specials. Make that two sheets – one lists the regular featured lunches and the other lists the week’s “healthy meal choices,” created by a registered dietitian in partnership with Pulse Heath and Fitness, a business in another part of the building.
A whiteboard near the start of the line lists the soups of the day ($2.29 for 10 ounces, $3.39 for 16 ounces), and we noted five when we visited – chicken noodle, garden vegetable, tomato, corn chowder with chicken and chili, which is slightly more at $2.79 and $3.79. A variety of sandwiches include turkey, ham, grilled chicken, veggie, tuna or chicken salad wraps ($5.99); hot sandwiches that start at $3.99 for grilled cheese up to $5.99 for a tuna melt or grilled chicken breast; and daily carved sandwiches (each $5.49) that are, Mondays to Fridays, beef on weck, smokehouse ham, turkey breast, corned beef and baked pork roast. Cold sandwiches ($3.99 to 5.99) include egg and tuna salad, ham and cheese, chicken salad, turkey club, BLT and roasted turkey breast. You can also get half of a cold sandwich for $3.59, with chips and a pickle. A self-serve fresh green salad bar is $4.99 a pound.
Burgers ($4.29, 30 cents more for cheese), a grilled hot dog ($2.99) and daily lighter choices, from a turkey burger (4.99) to a tuna plate ($4.99) round out the menu, but there’s also pizza – just $10.99 for a large cheese and pepperoni, $12.99 for a veggie or white pizza, $2 per slice. French fries (99 cents to $2.59), onion rings ($2.69 for large), chicken wings ($6.29, with fries) and fingers ($7.99, with fries) are also sold.
For people who want to splurge, Apples also sells pie ($2.29 a slice, $8.99 to $10.99 for a whole fruit pie), brownies ($1.49), cookies ($1.39) and ice cream ($1.19 a scoop).
Breakfast is also served, starting with a muffin, hard roll and butter, English muffin or toast ($1.09), egg on a roll ($1.59) and other combinations of eggs, ham, sausage or bacon, and a breakfast pizza ($2.79 a slice, $17.99 for a whole breakfast pizza).
The prices at Apples are a few bucks less than you would pay in most restaurants, even for lunch. The portion sizes are good for the prices and certainly filling, if not enormous. The food quality was very good indeed.
We each had a cup of soup, and two of us combined that with a half-sandwich ($5.59). All three of the soups we had were very good. The chicken noodle was made with a rich broth and sturdy kluski noodles and vegetables. Oddly, there was no actual chicken located in the bowl, although it seemed like just the luck of the ladle.
The garden vegetable soup was packed with all kinds of vegetables, including green beans, kidney beans, bits of cauliflower and broccoli, celery, corn kernels and chopped zucchini, in a tomato-flavored base.
The corn chowder with chicken ($2.29), which did have sizable chunks of chicken in it, was delicious. The chowder was rich, and it was full of corn, soft chopped potatoes and carrots.
One half-sandwich was ham, and our first indication that this was quality ham was the small telltale ring of creamy fat along the side of the slice. This wasn’t trimmed and pressed deli ham, but the real thing. Our second indication was the taste, full of flavor and not too salty. It was made on wheat bread with lettuce and tomato. The other half-sandwich was sliced turkey with lettuce and tomato on toasted wheat bread, and was also very fresh and tasty.
A Monte Cristo sandwich on egg-dredged and fried bread was a daily special ($5.99), served with potato salad and a 12-ounce beverage. The sandwich was flavorful, although we found the dollop of bright orange cheddar cheese sauce on the bread unnecessary and messy. But once that was scraped off, it was great – melty Swiss cheese and fresh sliced ham and turkey. The scoop of potato salad on the side was a hint of excellence unexplored – it was obviously homemade, with real mayo, and seasoned with fresh dill. Yum.
Next time, we might skip the soup and try the pie!
Apples Deli and Catering
Where: Appletree Business Park 2875 Union Road, Cheektowaga (applesdeli.com, 681-6747)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Wheelchair Access: Yes.