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CHEAP EATS

The Village Kitchen Cafe

40 Riley St., East Aurora

3 1/2 pennies (out of four)

"Completely worth it"

"Do you want that club sandwich on homemade or storebought bread?"

My companion, who was eschewing carbs herself, still had to ask: "Does anybody ever ask for storebought bread?"

The waitress at the Village Kitchen Cafe in East Aurora lowered her voice. "Sometimes; usually older people."

We nodded in understanding. Sure, an old person might find homemade bread . . . what? Too crusty? Too chewy?

The arrival of the Big Club Sandwich (ham, for $5.50) simultaneously brought our conversation to a standstill and answered the question. Its multiple layers of ham, tomato, lettuce and perfectly browned bacon stacked upon and between three thick slices of homemade wheat bread, it stood a full 4 inches high on the plate, taller even than its accompanying prodigious pile of French fries.

"I wish I could unhinge my jaw like a snake to eat this," I muttered, assessing the situation. "Don't worry, I won't watch," my friend replied as she daintily speared a bite of the low-carb specialty omelet, which she ordered with mushrooms and cheese. For $5.75, it was served with two large sausage patties and several slices of tomato.

The Village Kitchen Cafe had four soups on the Wednesday we ate there: Chicken Noodle, Split Pea with Ham, Homemade Chili and French Onion. I had the Split Pea, which was steaming and delicious. A cup was $1.50; a bowl $1.95.

Besides three egg dishes, the low-carb menu also includes a half-pound hamburger or cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, cottage cheese and vegetable for $5.95.

Breakfast, which is served all day, ranges from eggs done every way (including Benedict and its cousin, Robin Hood, which includes a layer of spinach) and hot cakes, French toast and waffles. Sandwiches, all served with chips, include beef on weck for $4.95, a hot dog for $1.55, grilled cheese for $2.50, corned beef for $3.95 and chicken breast for $4.25. The burgers range on price from $2.25 to $5.25, come with or without cheese and in Greek, German and Cajun varieties.

The priciest item on the menu is the Garden Souvlaki Salad with Chicken and the New York Strip Steak salad, both $6.95.

The Village Kitchen is tucked away next to a convenience store, one parking lot behind East Aurora's Main Street shops and eateries. It has a short counter with stools and some small tables in the front, but a large, airy back room has long tables that can be set for groups.

And the Big Club Sandwich on the homemade wheat bread? Messy, very messy. But completely worth it.

Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Handicapped-accessible.

The arrival of the Big Club Sandwich (ham, for $5.50) simultaneously brought our conversation to a standstill.