I couldn’t find a menu online for the Nickel Creek Cafe in West Seneca, so I called the place during a non-busy time and told the friendly woman who answered the phone that we were thinking of stopping by for dinner.
“The food here is really good,” she said.
I deducted 10 percent from her enthusiasm on the grounds that she works there. But she might have been right after all. The food was extremely good, the prices reasonable, the selection interesting and the atmosphere comfortable.
The cafe is in a big, old house with an awning-shaded front porch. The doors from the porch open directly into the bar, which was busy even on the glorious late summer Saturday when John, Pat, John and I visited. Past the bar is a dining room, called “the middle room,” containing a half-dozen or so tables. Behind that is a back dining room, and up the stairs is a smaller loft area.
The menu offers appetizers, soups and salads, half-pound burgers ($7.50 to $8.50), sandwiches (from $6 for fried bologna and onions to $9 for panko-breaded chicken breast deluxe), wraps ($8), pizza ($6 for personal, $10 for a half-sheet cheese and pepperoni) and dinner entrees, served after 4 p.m. A few of these break the $10 cheap eats barrier, but many do not, from the Polish platter ($7) to the oven-roasted half chicken dinner ($9) and the hot turkey or roast beef with gravy dinners ($9.50). A selection of seafood dishes is added to the menu on Fridays, with the haddock available beer-battered, crispy or broiled ($9.99), served with homemade macaroni salad, potato salad, coleslaw and fries.
We started with a stuffed bread from the specials board. Several were listed, but we picked bruschetta bread ($5), made of a split sub roll topped with chopped fresh tomato, onion and green pepper, which was then sprinkled with a mild cheese and Italian spices and heated under the broiler. It was nicely done, although I would have doubled the cheese to ensure a secure hold on the chopped bits.
The salad that came with our meatloaf dinner arrived next. Large, cold and crisp, it was made with iceberg topped with onion, tomato, cucumber and large toasted croutons.
The Bleu Devil Burger ($8) was a half-pound patty that appeared to be hand-formed, served on a fresh Costanzo’s roll and topped with blue cheese crumble and grilled onions. What a delicious combination! Although it was ordered almost well-done, which sometimes results in a dry burger, this was cooked through and still juicy.
The Rachel ($8), a variation on the Reuben made with turkey, ham, provolone, Thousand Island dressing and coleslaw, was a formidable sandwich, with fillings more than an inch thick. The warm meats flanked the central coleslaw layer, which remained crunchy and cool. The sturdy bread was nicely grilled, and the whole thing was delicious.
The meatloaf dinner made quite an impression, from its foil-wrapped baked potato and dish of bright yellow corn to the slabs of meatloaf covered with light brown gravy. Except for the potato, which was normal, every part of this exceeded expectations. The corn was still slightly crisp, not soggy. The meatloaf seemed to have been made with a commercial meatloaf mixture, because we detected other flavors besides beef. It wasn’t overly spiced, but had a nice taste.
A beer-battered chicken breast sandwich ($8), topped with provolone and served on a hard roll was a winner, from the thick, juicy but cooked-through breast fillet to the slightly crunchy, not greasy batter.
French fries (a huge pile added to one sandwich for just $1 extra), served not just hot but molten, were crisp and utterly delicious.
Nickel Creek Cafe
Where: 4717 Clinton St., West Seneca (656-1112)
Hours: The kitchen opens at 11 a.m. and serves until 11 p.m. weekdays, until midnight or later on weekends. Wheelchair-accessible: There is a ramp leading inside from the handicapped parking spots in the lot, indicated by a sign.