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Cheap Eats

A strip of buildings, including Joyce's crafts shop, grocery and pub, makes up the commercial center of Recess, Co. Galway, in the west of Ireland. On the wall is a sign that embodies the sly Irish enjoyment of words: "For those of you who like this sort of place, this is the sort of place you like."

I thought of that sign when Ruth, Dan, John and I stopped at Bia (the Irish word for "food") Irish Deli on Main Street in Williamsville for a light dinner recently. The dinners are limited to sandwiches, but if that's the sort of thing you like, you'll like the way Bia does it.

In the months since it opened in the old Montana Mills Baking Co., Bia has expanded from lunch to breakfast to dinner. The place inside is charming, with stone floors, a stone hearth and gas fireplace, and wooden tables, including one long enough to hold eight. The decor is charming.

Some beverages have disappointed. A cup of tea was an embarrassment in a place with Irish roots -- warm water in a cup with a bag perched on top. And the Guinness ($4.25) is bottled.

The food was good, though. The "Irish rye" on the menu turned out to be very nice brown-bread sub-type rolls. Each of the six sandwiches on the menu board came with a lightly dressed romaine salad and a handful of chips (or, as the Irish say, "crisps").

All were tasty, of good quality, and filling, while not take-the-leftovers-home size.

Dan enjoyed the Blue Tenderloin ($8.65), two slices of steak with blue cheese dressing. "There's a good portion of meat on here," he said. "It wasn't the Lenten special, anyway!"

Ruth liked her Pulled Pork Barbecue ($7.65), which layered the sauced, shredded moist pork with coleslaw and tomato. John's Cork Chicken ($7.25) was chunks of white meat in a mild tomato sauce, of which he said, "there isn't much of it, or there isn't much to it." But he liked the sandwich anyway.

My Ramblin' Reuben ($7.45) featured coleslaw rather than sauerkraut, which was fine with me. The meat was moist and tender.

The gentle strains of Irish music, both traditional and modern, filled the room while we ate. With a pot of tea, we'd have lingered.

-- Anne Neville

***

Bia Irish Deli

5601 Main St., Williamsville

655-0930

Review: 3 pennies (Out of 4)

"Great sandwiches."

Bia Irish Deli is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It is handicapped-accessible.

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