While passing through the Lumber City one day, we spotted Granny’s Family Restaurant and just had to drop in and sit a spell.
Why, the name alone was enough for me, conjuring images of feisty little Irene Ryan stompin’ around the Clampett kitchen and whompin’ up a batch of vittles the likes of which city folk ain’t never seen: grits and jowls, hogback, some pickled crawdad, and maybe a slice of possum pie or two to wash it all down. Ya cain’t get that just anywhere.
Turns out that Granny’s in North Tonawanda doesn’t have the same Ozark “flavor” of the “Beverly Hillbillies’ ” granny, but it did offer enough interesting-sounding dishes to pique our interest: kibbe and eggs, for instance, or kafta dinner. Mediterranean neophytes that we were, we had to stick around and see what they were all about.
Of course, some folks are more adventurous than others when it comes to eating, so we augmented our breakfast with more “traditional” dishes such as steak and eggs ($8.99), corned beef hash and eggs ($5.99) and one of the day’s breakfast specials, crabcakes and eggs ($8.99). Also on our menu: the kibbe and eggs ($8.99) and the biscuits and gravy ($5.99).
Granny’s is nothing much to look at, really, a diner-type counter and a handful of tables and otherwise sparse décor. The steady crowd on this weekend day was testament to something, however, and I doubt it was just the really good coffee they were serving.
The meals were homemade and generously portioned, which made it easier to overlook things like the need for some fresh silverware. For the price, Granny’s served the largest steak I’ve ever seen paired with eggs. It was grilled to taste, and that taste was awesome. Well done!
Hash and eggs is really hard to get too wrong, but it also can be hard to get just right. When it’s right, the hash has that little crispy edge to it, which balances the dish. Granny’s was nicely crisped on the edges, without being overcooked or burned. That’s attention to detail, in my mind. It’s very easy to just heat it up and slap it on a plate, and that would be perfectly acceptable (if you’re not too picky, or a hash purist). That little crunch sets it apart from the rest, however. Again, nice job.
Daughter Steffany was served two big crabcakes with her special, which also came with some of the best home fries she’s ever had. Home fries kind of fall into the same category as hash – you can do them up lazily, or you can go that little extra and give them a little crunch. These were well-seasoned, too.
The crab cakes? Crisp on the outside, tender and flaky inside and with a nice flavor that was not overpowering.
The highlight of the morning, however, was the kibbe. Now, we had no idea coming in just what kibbe was … so we asked, and it sounded interesting. Gene was the one to take the chance, as is usually the case. He also ordered the biscuits and gravy because, well, because he’s Gene, and he likes a big breakfast.
The biscuits were obviously homemade, he said; tender and tasty, with lots of white gravy with which to enjoy them. He had so much he took some home.
The kibbe – a Lebanese specialty consisting of ground meat mixed with burgal and spices – reminded us of the traditional “scrapple” dish with which Granny Clampett might be more familiar. Kibbe can have beef, lamb, goat or even camel meat in it, according to sources, and it can boast almost as wide a variety of spices. This one was tasty, served in slices and browned in a pan. We never asked which meat was used in it.
Granny’s offers a nice variety of American, Greek and Mediterranean dishes and even does broiled and char-broiled fish, a nice deviation from the typical seafood offerings. It’s well worth a stop.
Granny’s Family Restaurant
Where: 276 Oliver St., North Tonawanda (692-0165)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes