I don't know what it is, but it's difficult to find a decent 24-hour diner in this town. They're out there, for sure, but they're few and far between and only occasionally serve our late night or midmorning hunger needs the way they ought to. A $5 grilled cheese? Please. It's bread and Velveeta.
Enter the Olympic Family Restaurant.
We frequent the one on Military Road and Sheridan Drive. We like the waitresses, and the pseudo-tropical motif is also warm, I guess.
The Genesee Street location near the airport is smaller and more neon-laden, the waitresses are just as attentive (if just a bit friendlier), and the food is of equal quality. It's not open 24 hours like the Military Road location is, but we can deal.
The menu at the Olympic is alarming and intimidating. How can you choose a hearty Greek or Italian or American or chocolate cake dinner when your choices are limited to everything ever made?
The trick is to pick an arsenal of favorites and rotate among visits. For breakfast fare, I prefer Breakfast Special No. 6 ($5.95 to $6.95), which comes with two eggs, home fries, toast and either one or two sticks of beef or chicken Souvlaki. So good. The broccoli and cheese omelette, a three-egg concoction that comes with home fries and toast for $5.35, is wonderful. Any egg dish is going to make you happy, in all honesty.
On to the lunch/dinner/dunch/linner portion of the menu, you can't go wrong with Greek fare such as the Chicken Souvlaki dinner platter ($8.95), which is also available with beef or as a combination. It comes with a Greek salad, choice of potato or rice pilaf and grilled pita bread. Meat is always tender and wonderfully seasoned. The salad is a bit light on the feta, if you ask me. But don't fret about the feta; it's salty enough to last you the whole week.
The fish fry I would advise against. No surprise here, it's not fresh. Fish sticks and tater tots from your neighborhood grocer are more economical.
A couple of notes for the potential Olympian, and a few complaints: When the waitress asks if you want dessert, say yes and point to the Kentucky Pie on the menu. Don't argue with me, just do it.
To the staff: The chocolate cake pictured on the front of your dessert menu looks like it's been iced with American cheese. Don't get me wrong, I want to order it every time, but others may not. Why is a pitcher of pop the same price as a pitcher of Labatt? And why am I complaining?
Everything else about the Olympic is worthy of a gold medal.
-- Benjamin Siegel, Special to The News
The Tonawanda location is open 24 hours; the Cheektowaga location is open from 7 a.m. to midnight. Both locations are wheelchair-accessible.
Olympic Family Restaurant
1601 Military Road, Tonawanda
4611 Genesee St., Cheektowaga
3.5 pennies (out of 4)
"Worthy of a gold medal."