In 1986 I worked as a busboy at the Spartan Restaurant, a Greek diner in Dover, N.H. There was a certain feel about the place — from the baklava and spanakopita to the abundance of feta cheese in everything from the omelets to the soups. It didn’t try to be anything other than a great Greek diner.
The Odyssey Restaurant in Blasdell has a very similar feel, and that’s before you even gaze at the menu.
Like any good throwback diner, the Odyssey begins with a row of swivel stools at the counter. On this day, six men are gathered, some reading the newspaper while others debate the latest presidential debate. It offers a warm vibe — strangers coming together and eating as one. The rest of the restaurant is filled with comfy booths where you can choose your favorite, seat yourself and settle in for a delicious meal.
[See Sharon Cantillon's gallery from Odyssey Family Restaurant]
I knew we were in for a good experience when the waitress bounced over to the booth next to ours and welcomed the guests by name. They were regulars and she knew exactly what the orders were. Though we were not, she was equally friendly and offered helpful suggestions and explanations of menu items.
The Odyssey offers a full menu, but at its core, this is all about the breakfast. And for Cheap Eats enthusiasts, this place is a bargain. Omelet lovers can enjoy a fluffy Western omelet served with home fries and toast ($7.39). I opted for the country fried steak and eggs ($7.79).
My plate arrived quickly and had more food than I could finish. The breaded steak was tasty, albeit a bit salty, and was covered in a rich, white country gravy. Surrounded by home fries, toast and a pair of eggs, it was a big breakfast at a small price. The scrambled eggs were a bit dry, but nothing a touch of the gravy couldn’t fix.
Across the table sat a plate of delicious French toast and crispy bacon. There are a lot of nuances that can subtly change the flavor of French toast. It’s more than just bread dipped in eggs. From cream, cinnamon, nutmeg or even a touch of sugar in the mix, there are plenty of variations and though they don’t share what’s in theirs, The Odyssey hit a home run. At $6.59 with the bacon ($4.99 without) it was money well spent.
The waffles with fruit topping also were a hit ($6.59) and I like that they are available in a half portion for those with a smaller appetite. If you’re looking to grab breakfast on the run, you can’t go wrong with a breakfast sandwich on a flaky, buttery, croissant with your choice of meat ($4.79).
There is plenty more to explore on the lunch and dinner menu, but my advice: come by for breakfast and you’ll be hooked. With a friendly staff that will keep your coffee cup full and a menu that won’t strain your wallet, The Odyssey is a Southtowns eatery worth a visit.
Odyssey Family Restaurant
Where: 3933 South Park Ave., Blasdell (825-9712)
Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Plenty of parking in lot.