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A HIDDEN PENDLETON TREASURE, COUNTRY COTTAGE RESTAURANT IS A DELIGHT

Now that spring has triumphantly revealed its face, weekenders will instinctively head for their cars so they can comfortably watch the county's beautiful landscape unfold into a new season.

Located on a simple two-lane road amid single-family homes, the Country Cottage Restaurant makes a great destination for a drive to the county's southern border in Pendleton.

A few miles off Niagara Falls Boulevard, at the bottom of Townline Road, it's the type of place you'd never know was there. But once we found it, we were glad of the discovery.

The restaurant's cozy decor featured hundreds of pig knickknacks, wooden booths and a revolving glass display of homemade pies.

Getting down to work, our party of three quickly took three separate culinary paths.

It was about 7 p.m. on a Saturday, and since the restaurant closes at 8 p.m., it had run out of a few specials and the homemade meatloaf, but we all had second choices picked out.

My friend, a veterinarian assistant, was quite pleased to learn they serve breakfast all day. He ordered the crazy eggs with toast ($6.25), which consisted of a massive plate of eggs, hash browns, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in an assortment resembling an exploded omelet.

He wasn't able to polish off the substantial meal so he had it boxed up, but on the way out he dropped it on the floor. Judging by the look on his face, it was obvious he had been looking forward to the leftovers.

He said it looked a little strange but tasted oh-so-good.

My other friend, a speech pathologist, decided to order one of the pasta specials.

Her chicken stir fry ($7.95) was a deep plate of vegetables and meat, sauteed and served over fettuccine instead of rice.

She said she was surprised by the noodles but thought they went well with the fresh broccoli, mushrooms, carrots and onions, all tossed together with a light garlic teriyaki sauce. A side of garlic bread was tasty too, she said.

I noticed several seafood dishes on the menu, and felt I should try at least one.

My companions informed me they'd gladly help me if I couldn't finish. How generous of them.

I ordered the seafood combination special ($12.95), featuring a broccoli-and-cheese-stuffed whitefish, which the menu said would be served with a side of a few breaded shrimp and calamari.

The stuffing was flavorful, broccoli is one of my favorites, and I was pleased it wasn't overly salty, which can happen often with stuffed seafood dishes.

The side of a "few" breaded pieces of seafood was an entire dish of them perfectly browned and ready for dipping in cocktail sauce -- and plentiful enough to share.

Both dinner meals came with either a salad or soup. We opted for salad and were literally served half a head of lettuce each, chopped up and served with onions and tomatoes.

We've heard the hamburgers served here, as well as sweet potato fries, are great as well.

We knew we wouldn't have enough room for appetizers but were pleased to see they offer deep fried vegetable baskets and fried zucchini. Yum.

Although our food was not served very promptly, the conversation was easy in the comfortable atmosphere. When the dishes did arrive, they were hot and fresh.

When we got up to leave, our waitress rattled off a list of tempting pies, and we took two pieces home to share.

The Oreo creme pie ($3.95) was made with a generous amount of vanilla filling mixed with crushed cookies. We thought we even detected a hint of coffee flavor.

The cranberry apple pie ($3.25) had a brown sugar topping and the tart berries balanced quite well with sweet granny apples.

No complaints with the crust, either.

The one thing that's important for visitors to the Country Cottage to remember is to wear pants with elastic waistbands -- and hold on tight to those leftovers while you're walking out the door.

The Country Cottage Restaurant
4072 Beach Ridge Road, Pendleton (693-4911)
Review: 3 stars (Out of four)

Favorite dish: Crazy eggs and sweet potato fries, not necessarily ordered together

Needs work: Not many vegetarian options; most salads are topped with meat.

Healthy choice: Salad and pasta selections

Price range: Sandwiches and burgers from $4; dinners from $7. All come with plenty of food and side dishes

Service: Good

Noise level: Radio is usually playing, and conversation is low

Wheelchair access: Yes

Parking: On-site parking

Kid appeal: Great kids menu, breakfast served all day

Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com