Even if Gordie Harper’s Bazaar in Newfane is outside your normal travel orbit, you should set aside the time to visit this old-fashioned spot at least once.
Here’s what you’ll find:
A very good restaurant, which manages to be cozy despite being very large, with delicious home-style food at reasonable prices.
An old-fashioned candy store stocking every kind of sweet you remember from your childhood, including bins of penny candy, as well as shelves of Amish canned vegetables and condiments, spices and teas.
And some 10,000 square feet of individually owned rooms filled with every conceivable kind of new, vintage, antique and just plain old stuff of every price, kind and description.
It would be easy to wander through the flea market/antiques shop portion of the Bazaar for hours. But on a recent Sunday around noon, John, Pat, John and I made it only as far as the candy shop before the hostess called our name and seated us in a comfortable booth in one of the cavernous rooms.
The menu, which is extensive, offers a 12-ounce strip steak dinner for $17.05 and a seafood platter for $19.50, but don’t let those prices scare you off. The vast majority of dishes are well below $10, including ham steak, liver and pork chop dinners. The sandwiches, made on home-baked bread or rolls, are between $6 and $8, with only the house specialty tenderloin steak sandwich hitting the heights of $8.75.
Along with the usual white, wheat, Italian and rye breads, Gordie Harper’s makes cheese, raisin, pumpernickel, cinnamon and sourdough, and they are sold by the loaf.
The fresh haddock sandwich on a kaiser roll ($6.35) was offered beer-battered, breaded or broiled. We selected breaded, and it was served hot and crispy. The roll was so thick that it was almost a challenge to bite into. The fish was fresh and sweet, with a flaky, yielding texture. The sandwich came with chips and a bowl of crisp, homemade cole slaw dressed with mayo.
The chicken Florentine sandwich ($7.55) was made on a fresh roll with an almost biscuitlike consistency. The large, grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breast was juicy, and the generous layer of baby spinach added flavor. A layer of slightly melted provolone was the finishing touch.
The grilled chicken bowl ($8.05), one of three meal-sized salads, was built on a bed of greens that contained both bite-sized chunks of cold iceberg and field greens. The second layer was a large quartered hard-cooked egg, ripe tomato, shredded cheese and bits of onion, with a thick grilled chicken breast sliced into strips and set on top. The house dressing, sweet and sour, was oily and added little flavor, but people must like it, or it wouldn’t be the house dressing.
The No. 8 breakfast – two eggs, two pancakes, two sausage links and two bacon strips ($6.85) – presented an opportunity. The eggs, sausage and thick-cut bacon were hot and perfectly cooked, but the plate-sized pancakes were close to room temperature and stiff, having spent some time waiting to be served. Our server swung by, and when told of the issue, whisked the plate of cakes away and returned with a replacement so quickly that she could have been on a restaurant Olympics track team. The new cakes were hot, dense rather than fluffy, and delicious, and all were happy.
We had no reason to add the hand-cut sweet potato fries ($3.25) to our order except for research purposes. And this preparation, cut thick and with ridges that added crispiness to each bite, is our new favorite. The dish contained the equivalent of one large sweet potato, served with a small cup of honey. They were exceptional and left us feeling happy.