Western New Yorkers are lucky to have a bevy of Greek-American restaurants that serve everything from pancakes to lamb “lollychops” – even together if your mood strikes.
Recently, the Sig Other’s parents clued us into a new place, the Olive Branch Family Restaurant.
Once a defunct Denny’s, the owners renovated it into a lovely dining space with earthy colors, comfortable booths and tables, and a counter with seats. A mural of Santorini with its trademark blue and white buildings graces the ceiling.
On both visits, service was exceptional and the place is spic and span.
The menu is a good size, but not overwhelming like some tomes we’ve seen, with Greek specialties and regular diner items.
One could cobble a meal together of Greek appetizers. From the “Mezedes,” there are items like the spinach/cheese/phyllo Spanakopita ($4.99), the feta and ricotta phyllo Tiropita ($5.99), Tzatziki dip ($4.99; cucumber, garlic, dill, yogurt) and Kafteri dip ($5.99; spicy feta/roasted red pepper) all served with grilled pita. Greek Fries ($3.99) are topped with feta and Greek dressing. A Greek Meze Combo is $9.99.
I could survive on dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and Olive Branch’s ($4.99) are good. Stuffed with rice, the plate of the cigar-shaped dolmades were very lemony (which I love) and came with olives and peperoncini.
A Soup/Salad Combo with grilled pita is $5.49. The soup of the day – avgolemono ($2.29 cup), a lemony, chicken-eggy soup with rice – surprised me with its silky smooth consistency. And did I mention I like lemon?
Our sandwiches arrived with a pile of hot, crisp fries and a pickle. Sig O went for the Gyro Melt ($7.79), delicious layers of gyro meat melted with the ingredients of a gyro – cheese, tomato, onion – on lovely thick sourdough bread.
My Olive Branch Panini ($7.99) was a challenge to eat but nonetheless delicious. A combo of chicken souvlaki with tomatoes, onions, spinach and feta was grilled between two pitas. The feta needed to melt a little more to hold it together, but other than that, the generous amount of chicken was moist and flavorful. I managed.
Visit No. 2 was just as pleasing, but why hadn’t we noticed the huge portion sizes before?
Sig O went old school with a Hot Turkey Sandwich ($7.39). The giant platter arrived laden with thick slices of white country bread (not the Wonder variety), served open-faced, topped with slices of turkey and gravy. Some gravy-ish combos can be salty, but Sig O noted that this was not the case. The mashed potatoes were real, too.
The special of the night, Stuffed Peppers ($8.99), was spectacular and came with a lovely small salad of romaine, grape tomatoes, onions and peppers. My favorite part was the Greek dressing, which was emulsified. I could see bits of garlic and herbs suspended in this dressing preventing a shake-to-broken-arm-only-to-get-all-oil-anyway episode.
When my dinner arrived, I knew I’d have next day’s lunch (as did others we noted leaving with white boxes).
The two big green peppers were perfectly cooked. Someone took the time to include the cute tops, too. They were firm enough to keep their shape but easy to cut. The rice/ground meat filling was flavorful and tender. A delicious tomato sauce completed the dish. (Swap the peppers for cabbage and I’d swear I was eating a golabki.)
The scrumptious Greek potato side satisfied my lemon fix. The veggies were OK, but they were competing against peppers and potatoes.
For dessert we split a delightfully light homemade Greek pudding ($3.99). More like a custard brick with phyllo on top and bottom, it came dusted with cinnamon and topped with a drizzle of honey.
And to my delight, I detected a hint of lemon in the filling.
Olive Branch Family Restaurant
Where: 2343 Union Road, West Seneca (656-0013)
Hours: Open 24 hours