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If you’re looking to stretch your lunch dollar, and have a modicum of foresight, you might do well to consider the lunch buffets offered by the culinary student battalions of Erie Community College.

A midday meal is offered Tuesday through Thursday at the college’s North Campus in Amherst. At ECC’s downtown city campus, it’s offered Tuesday through Friday. Here’s the catch: you really need reservations.

When you learn what they’re offering, and the price, you’ll understand why.

“We usually have a carved item, whether that’s a prime rib, turkey breast, rack of pork, something like that,” said ECC culinary instructor Mark Wright. “There’s a poultry dish, like chicken saltimbocca or chicken a la king, classic things. There’s potatoes, and a fresh vegetable, of course. There might be a pasta station. There’s always a seafood item, which might be seared salmon, filet of sole, stuffed shrimp or crabcakes. There’s an assortment of salads, and always a soup, like shrimp bisque or a chowder.”

Students make the food and staff the dining rooms, under instructor supervision. “The kids are learning to serve, but it’s a little bit upscale,” Wright said. Beverages include iced tea brewed daily and freshly squeezed lemonade.

After all that, you might not be thinking dessert. But if you see the display, you might not be able to resist.

“Our bake shops are running, so we have the breads, pastries and cakes coming,” Wright said. “That includes desserts like petits fours, eclairs, opera cake.”

The cost for lunch: $12.50. The buffets at both campuses run though May 14.

For lunch in the Statler Room, City Campus (121 Ellicott St.), call 851-1092 for reservations.

For lunch in the Erie Room, in the Spring Student Center at North Campus (Youngs Road and Main Street, Amherst), call 851-1381 for reservations. There also is a dinner buffet at North Campus on Wednesday evenings, with a fancier menu complete with amuse bouche, for $16.95.

People who learn the secret of the ECC culinary buffet lunch tend to return, Wright said. “What we do for $12.50 would cost you $30 some places.”

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Foodie find:

Earth Day Sustainable Wine Tasting.

6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Merge (439 Delaware Ave., 842-0600). Find out what organic, biodynamic and sustainable mean in the context of five wines offered for tasting, with appetizers. Tickets are $21.39 through earthdaywinetasting.brownpapertickets.com.

Send dish nominations to agalarneau@buffnews.com.