In all our years of cheap eating in this area, we’d never been to Crittenden (a hamlet in Alden), and as it turns out, we had missed out. Gregario’s Pizzeria and The Gator Pub are in a big, old, dark-green building at the corner of Genesee Street and Crittenden Road. Not only is it just 11 miles east of the corner of Transit and Genesee, but the road takes you through some scenic farm country, with several interesting roadside stands along the way.
When John, Pat and I visited on a weekend morning for “Gator’s breakfast,” we entered the first door off the parking lot (the second door opens into the barroom, comfortably atmospheric right up to its tin ceiling) and chose the table right inside the door, which also happened to be right next to an upright piano. Our friendly server told us, “It was just tuned, so you can play it if you want to.”
Between the ready-to-play piano and the signs announcing karaoke, darts, horseshoes and pool leagues and a birthday club, we agreed that it seemed like the kind of neighborhood gathering place where people have a lot of fun.
The menu was written with a smile, too. A scrambler platter called Eddie the Greek contains your choice of steak or chicken, two eggs, home fries, onions, spinach and feta, served with a side of Greek dressing ($7.99). Mark’s Heart Attack Sandwich, made on a grilled hard roll, is piled with bacon, sausage, ham and cheese ($4.99). “Men at Work” is built on a layer of hash browns topped with sausage patties, then sausage gravy and two poached eggs ($7.99). Finally, Vicci’s Two-Eyed Growler, which frankly we were afraid to order, contains two scrambled eggs cooked with corned beef hash and covered with hollandaise, served with hash browns and toast ($7.99).
The most inexpensive item on the menu is an egg and toast for $1.09; the most expensive item, the Hungry Family Omelette, is designed to feed a family, with a five-egg cheese omelette made with four extra ingredients, served with five pancakes and home fries or hash browns ($10.99).
We weren’t anywhere near that hungry, so we ordered dishes designed for just one person.
The short stack of French toast (two slices for $3.49, $4.49 for a full order of three slices) was made with thick Texas toast, nicely browned and crisp on the outside and still tender inside. The egg mixture had soaked in, leaving no dry spots. A side of bacon ($2.29) had a good flavor and was nicely cooked, although it was sliced a bit thin.
We were pleasantly surprised when the server asked whether we wanted American cheese, pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar jack or mozzarella on our three-egg cheese and mushroom omelette ($5.25, $1.50 for extra meat or cheese, 50 cents for extra veggies). Such choice! When it arrived, it was not only stuffed full of Swiss cheese and mushrooms, it was flanked by a nice crusty order of home fries and toast, for which we could have substituted two pancakes.
Finally, we tried Kathy’s Polish Platter, a substantial breakfast of two eggs, a smoked Polish sausage, sauerkraut and four potato and cheese pierogi ($7.99). The pierogi, although clearly straight out of the freezer, were slightly browned and topped with slender rings of soft fried onions. They lay on a bed of sauerkraut that seemed a bit dry, although I admit that I am picky about sauerkraut and others may find it perfect. The eggs were done over medium, just as ordered. But the smoked Polish sausage, a single segment rather than a portion of a larger link, was fabulous. It was a good size, and although salty, was bursting with flavor.
As we left, we were a bit sorry that no spontaneous piano-playing or karaoke had broken out. Maybe next time we’ll be lucky enough to join in the fun at the Gator Pub.
The Gator Pub
13493 Genesee St., Alden (937-9455, www.gatorpub.com)
Hours: Gator’s breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair-accessible: There are two steps up to the porch.