That’s it – I’m moving to Elma.

More than five years ago, Ruth and Dan went with us to the Elma Towne Grille and we had some good food, 3½-pennies good food.

Some things remain the same: The long, white building on Clinton Street with two peaks joined by a porch; the cozy wooden booths; the all-you-can-eat salad and soup bar; the efficient and friendly servers.

There were a few quibbles last time, but on this visit with Paula and Tom, who have eaten there before, we found our meals nearly flawless, and far beyond what we would have expected.

Granted, prices have gone up a buck or two. But there are still plenty of great-sounding options well under $10.

Sandwich platters range from $7.99 for an Elma triple-decker or fried bologna to a raft of picks under $9, including turkey or regular Reuben, pulled pork, Towne burger, hot roast beef or hot turkey sandwich, Buffalo chicken finger wrap, Philly cheese steak or Cuban. All are served with fresh-cut fries.

Quesadillas range from $7.99 for a veggie to $9.99 for a crab cake or Greek chicken selection, with a portabella mushroom and roasted red pepper quesadilla looking especially delicious and reasonable at $7.99. Wings ($9.50 single), fingers ($9.99 for five, with fries) and a variety of salads ($8.99 or $9.99) are augmented by appetizers and sides of many kinds.

Besides French onion soup (crock for $3.99), there is also the “famous Buffalo chicken wing soup” (cup $2.50, crock $3.99, quart $7.99). We started with a cup of the famous concoction, and found it intriguingly delicious. Plenty of places do a chicken wing soup with chicken and hot sauce, but few are able to achieve this height. The complexly flavored broth was delicious, the heat a subtle but decisive end note. Julienned raw carrot and celery sticks were decoration as well as cool crunch; cooked carrots and celery filled the bowl, along with a single rather large chunk of chicken, the luck of the ladle.

The Pittsburgh roast beef sandwich ($9.50), modeled after those made famous by such sandwich shop kings as the Primanti Brothers, was created with crisp coleslaw, tomato, American cheese, french fries and Thousand Island dressing on a hoagie roll. This sandwich was a structural and taste delight, with flavors accenting each other and textures complementing. The beef, in particular, was flavorful and tender. Our sole quibble with this and some of the other dishes was that the beautifully browned fries were a bit limp.

The hot meatloaf dinner ($9.99) had two sizable chunks of meatloaf, served with a choice of potatoes and vegetable. The loaf was a nice, slightly yielding texture, obviously made with mostly beef and not too much filler. The vegetables were a thing of beauty – a fresh medley of broccoli, green beans and carrots, steamed to just tenderness.

The fish fry ($10.99) was a masterpiece that met our high expectations. An 8-inch slab of fresh, flaky haddock, covered in a shiny but nongreasy beer batter was flanked by fresh pasta salad, coleslaw and a choice of potato. The fish can also be prepared breaded, with lemon pepper, Cajun seasoned, Italian or just broiled.

Finally, the homemade goulash ($9.99) could have gotten away with being a simple meal of pasta, tomatoes and ground meat. But this was grandma’s goulash on steroids — plenty of juicy ground meat, perfectly cooked pasta shells, tasty tomato sauce, mixed with slices of soft and flavorful onion and green peppers. It was covered with a lid of mozzarella and run under the broiler, then sprinkled with bits of parsley. It was delicious.

Now that we have experienced this high level of quality, I can’t limit myself to the Elma Towne Grille twice a decade. Does anybody know of any houses for sale in Elma?


Elma Towne Grille

Where: 6650 Clinton St., Elma (651-4619,

4 pennies

Hours: Kitchen opens at 11 a.m. daily. Closes at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Wheelchair-accessible: Yes.