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Cheap eats

The Country Cottage Restaurant is attached to a large house near the corner of Beach Ridge Road and Townline Road in Pendleton, which isn't as far away as it sounds. Mindful that many Niagara County hamlets have names, we asked if the Country Cottage was located at a named spot.

No? Then call it Piggyville.

The dining room, with five booths and 12 tables is chock-a-block with pigs -- ceramic, plastic, paper and wood. Pigs grin, frolic and pose on the walls, shelves and counters. First we thought it was simply cute. After the excellent food arrived, we realized it was a warning: It's easy to make a pig of yourself here.

The menu offered several fish fry choices, including a Fresh North Atlantic Haddock fry for $10.69, but John won't go over 10 bucks for a fish fry, so he selected the traditional one for $7.95. Dan, Ruth and I ordered off the specials menu and started our dinners with the included soup or salad. Both Ruth's Italian beans and greens and Dan's New England Clam Chowder (ecumenically, they also offer Manhattan) were delicious and full of veggies. The beans and greens broth was sturdy but not gummy or floury. My salad, of crisp iceberg, onions and tomato wedges, was perfectly adequate.

Ruth had selected the sausage parm ($8.95), which turned out to be three thick, short sausage links on a bed of perfectly cooked thick pasta in tasty sauce. The sausage came in for particular praise, with its tender texture and subtle spiced taste. A slice of herbed garlic bread cut on an angle completed the plate.

Dan's oven-baked ham dinner ($8.15) was classic comfort food -- two slices of old-fashioned ham, sliced off the bone, and two large fluffy potato pancakes. "The ham is very good, and the potato pancakes are very, very good," Dan said.

But all conversation stopped when John's fish fry landed on the table. It touched both ends of the large platter on which it was served, the biggest piece of fried fish we've seen . . . well, maybe ever. The batter doesn't contain beer, but who cares, when the firm white haddock is this good and this cheap? The french fries and coleslaw were fine, but all side dishes paled in comparison to this big, delicious fish.

My stuffed pepper was a softball-sized mound of baked green pepper filled with a mixture of ground beef and rice and topped with tomato sauce. It was exactly like the ones my grandmother used to make, and to my adult palate, it seemed a bit bland. I ordered mashed potatoes and gravy, and while the sauces didn't go together, I didn't care. Like everybody else in the Country Cottage, I was in hog heaven.

-- Anne Neville


The Country Cottage Restaurant

4072 Beach Ridge Road, Pendleton


Review: 3 1/2 stars (Out of 4)

"Home cooking."

The Country Cottage Restaurant opens daily at 8 a.m. It closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday, at 9 p.m. on Friday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. It is handicapped-accessible.

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